We’ve heard it for years: retail is brutal. Competition with big box stores and online channels make it very hard for a locally-owned retail store to survive. This is certainly true to some extent; the traditional models of retails are quickly failing everywhere, but that’s the ‘glass is half empty” perspective. Some retail shops in Kona not only survive but thrive.
How can a retails store do well in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii?
Here are ten things a retail shop can do:
- Offer products and services. If you’re selling fabric, have classes and offer and an alterations service. If you sell bikes, have accessories, of course, but also offer bike repairs and rentals. Selling art supplies? Add classes and, perhaps, a small gallery where artists can sell their work. If you’re selling tourists goods, partner with a tourist activities business and offer a booking service (for a nice referral fee, of course).
- Create a punch card offering discounts for multiple purchases or, even better, just visits. Come into the store ten times and get $10 off.
- Sponsor or organize local events. Naturally, a paddling supply shop should be organizing and sponsoring regattas or weekend mini races. A pet supply business should be working with the Humane Society to offer onsite adoptions or discounts to new pet owners. Dog training classes should be offered, as well. Become part of the community.
- Focus on products that need to be fitted. Clothes come in basic sizes, but shoes almost always need to be tried on. An outdoor activities shop should have a good selection of shoes and boots. Tennis and golf clubs need to be held, swung.
- Carry products that pack easily. If you’re targeting tourists, have a bunch of products that take up very little suitcase space. You’re not going to sell pogo sticks, no matter how cool, to people who visit the island!
- Another important thing for tourists is small gifts they can bring home to friends or family. Asian tourists, in particular, have a strong gift-giving culture, so having small Hawaii-branded gifts – key chains, 2 oz coffee, snacks, etc — can add up to huge sales over time.
- Focus on convenience and service over price. You’ll be paddling up a creek if you try to always have lower prices than online retailers. Local and online shopping are apples and oranges; compete on having products here now and offering expert advice on fit, use and local use. Free delivery can be a big differentiator.
- Be sure to have a good web presence! Kona, Hawaii has a lot of people coming and going each year, so if you don’t have many ways for people to find you online, you’re missing huge opportunities.
- Have an awesome customer contact system. Do whatever you can to build a great email marketing program for your business. Send a newsletter at least once a month.
- Invest in good signage. Handmade signs might appear to save you some money in the beginning, but you’ll look like a temporary, low-level business. Think about doing your vehicles, shop windows and inside your store with consistent and high-quality signage.
Kona Impact 808-329-6077