The pandemic presented an opportunity for local businesses to flourish. Despite the global economic recession that permanently closed countless establishments, the crisis led to changes that have been beneficial for specific sectors. Technology companies, for example, have been reaping profits from the pandemic.
However, Amazon is not the only one that has seen growth in the past year. As lockdowns happened and movement was restricted, people had no choice but to rely on local retailers to procure their needs.
The Rise of Hyperlocal Shopping
The public had an increased interest in buying from businesses within their neighborhoods rather than big-box retail establishments. The local butchers, farmers, bakeries, coffee shops, greengrocers, and restaurants have been boosted by lockdowns and the shift to working or studying from home.
In a recent report, 23 percent of consumers globally said they ate takeout and had meals delivered to their homes from locally owned food and beverage establishments more often during the pandemic. Consumers from India, Peru, and Colombia were among those who were more likely to increase their spending on locally sourced and manufactured goods.
In the United States, 56 percent of American consumers patronized neighborhood stores and prioritized buying locally sourced products. Aside from accessibility due to proximity, the pandemic encouraged a sense of community within people. Consumers had a newfound appreciation not just for healthcare workers, but all the people in retail who continued to go to work and risk their safety to serve the public.
In the United Kingdom, the same is happening. The past year has seen an increase in spending on stores that were closer to home as an effort to support one another and the businesses that served their communities throughout the turbulent past year.
The trend is likely to continue for the years to come. A study found that 75 percent of American consumers want to shop local throughout next year, too, even if vaccinations have brought a little normalcy back to everyday life.
Taking Advantage of the Hyperlocal Shopping Trend
The trend leaning toward hyperlocal shopping is beneficial to small- and medium-sized enterprises that have, for years, struggled to keep up with big-box retailers and Amazon. These businesses can offer accessibility and convenience as well as personalized and more satisfactory transactions.
A closet design and storage franchise, for example, can deliver customization, something that bigger competitors like IKEA or West Elm cannot offer consumers. On the other hand, a local grocer or a local farmer sells fruits and vegetables that are fresher than what is offered by nationwide supermarket chains.
The challenge, however, is marketing. Although it is easier to market to a customer eager to buy, there is still a need to reach out to consumers and promote the business.
Smartphones have been a valuable tool to attract foot traffic to businesses. Through the device’s GPS, the customer can locate nearby establishments.
Google says that, in the past years, one of the most popular features on search became “near me” and “where to buy.” Hyperlocal searches increased by over 200 percent as people used their smartphones to look for restaurants, mechanics, or post offices.
It is necessary that local businesses update their Google My Business Listing. It is a way for consumers to find the business through online search engines. About one-third of all mobile searches on Google include a location. SMEs that cannot be found online are fighting a tough battle for visibility.
Businesses should also create hyperlocal content online. Publishing blog posts that center around the community will give the business an edge over bigger competitors because it builds trust. Moreover, producing content online is suitable for search engine optimization (SEO) ranking. When a customer searches for a specific product or service online, the business information and link will be the first to appear on the results page.
In addition, businesses can use their own customer data to craft and run a marketing campaign locally. Data can help inform where the bulk of the customers are located and where the business should boost advertising to attract more potential clients.
Moreover, the business should also be present in community events. If there are marathons, conferences, and other events, the business should take it as an opportunity to reach more people.
The Bottom Line
The pandemic has been a death knell to many businesses, big and small. However, there have been a few silver linings. As COVID-19 ravaged the nation, the public gained a sense of community, and there was a bigger effort to help one another. It led to consumers supporting local businesses.