How To Shop Local Online

You can support local business and shop online! It just takes a mind set, rather than always going to Amazon or the big guys, fill that online cart at a local retailer on their website.

One of the most effective pieces of subliminal advertising in the business world today can be found within retail colossus Amazon’s logo: the arrow from the first letter to the fourth letter unconsciously creates the “A to Z” idea.  (For another great example of another piece of subliminal advertising, look for the arrow in the FedEx logo). 

Amazon can certainly do everything from A to Z, whether you need milk or truck tires or even fine art.  Yet the cost of doing business with Amazon can outweigh the benefits, even if it’s very easy to see the benefits and very difficult to see the costs.

Sixty million Americans owe their employment to small businesses

Start with the businesses that are losing customers every second to Amazon.  The statistics from 2020 look akin to something you’d read about the Great Depression: over 160,000 U.S. businesses were forced to close their doors during the past calendar year, and estimates suggest that not even half of them will ever re-open. 

Small businesses that were already struggling to compete with the cost-undercutting strategies of Wal-Mart and big box retailers found themselves unable to find supply chains, unable to find loans, and perhaps even unable to allow customers inside their four walls.  No wonder so many collapsed and no wonder so many of them are clinging to whatever lifeline they can find. Small businesses matter more than you think.  Sixty million Americans, double the population of Texas, owe their employment to small businesses. 

Small businesses that were already struggling to compete with the cost-undercutting strategies

Small Businesses Build Trust

Although corporate giants like Coke or Ford or Apple dominate headlines, TV commercials, and stock portfolios, large- and medium-sized businesses account for just .1% of the total number of businesses in the U.S.  Even these Goliaths couldn’t make inroads to local communities, furthermore, if not for the countless small businesses doing the outsourced grunt work of logistics, sales, and so on the economy would crumble. 

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Both Sun Tzu and “The Music Man” remind business leaders today of the importance of knowing your territory.  Some small businesses are so successful at keeping money within the community that they create their own local currency, meaning you don’t have to use bills featuring former presidents to get what you want.  They form the tax basis for many civic services, from roads to water to parks. 

More than that, small businesses build trust: trust in neighbors, trust in leaders, trust in mutual support.  Sometimes that trust can be more valuable than money, and in shorter supply to boot.

Amazon has come riding high out of the pandemic

Where small businesses have been hit with a tidal wave, Amazon has come riding high out of the pandemic and its economic chaos.  Some of its statistics have few equals in the history of American business: Amazon stock doubled in price during 2020 and it hired 175,000 people, meaning it created roughly one job for every two small businesses that had to shutter.  These are not dream jobs, however: stories of warehouse employees denied bathroom breaks remind you of the luxury of a good-paying, dignified position.

There can be no denying that convenience, price, or availability simply mean you have to swallow your morals when you shop at Amazon (or Wal-Mart, or any other big company with a shady reputation).  However, some strategies can help ensure that your money remains in your community instead of ending up in the pockets of a board of directors.

ensure that your money remains in your community

Browse Local, Shop Local

The first step that most people take before purchasing something on Amazon is simply to Google it.  Google and Amazon are thick as thieves: the “Shopping” tab often redirects to Amazon inventory, while both companies purchase user data from the other to get a better idea of how their mutual customers spend money.  The good news is that Google (or other search engines) are also looking for location, and will prioritize local results over results sitting in an Amazon warehouse three states over.  Googling a product and your city name, furthermore, will give more hits to local businesses who keep the product in stock.  Searching locally isn’t a sure bet, since a whopping one in three small businesses have no Internet site whatsoever.  Even so, the easiest way to support local businesses is to narrow down your parameters to where you live and who is nearby.

cash remains king today, tomorrow, and for all the foreseeable future

Carry Cash

While most small businesses will accept credit cards and checks, cash remains king today, tomorrow, and for all the foreseeable future.  Cash payments to a small business mean that they don’t have to pay a transaction fee for processing your card; better still, you don’t have to input card number, expiration date, three-digit code on the back, PIN number, or whatever password is linked to an Apple Pay or Google Wallet account.  Cash has no enemies, even if Americans are using it less; one in three Americans don’t use cash at all.

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Word of Mouth

The Internet has given anyone and everyone a platform to tell the world what they think.  Yet, when it comes to influencing other people, nothing works better than face-to-face contact and word-of-mouth advertising.  We forget how we used to promote our favorite brands and business years ago…by telling everyone we met about them!

Today, we need to go back to our roots and throw our support behind local brands and business we love. At parties, get togethers and any where three or more our found, tell your friends how to shop local and where!

Reviews are the bread and butter of local businesses

Leave A Review

Reviews are the bread and butter of local businesses, especially ones that custom make items (like furniture or jewelry.) These craftsmen make their living fulfilling orders and customers select these artists based on how many stars they have, even a single bad review can drag down their rating. On the flip side, leaving a good review can boost the company’s sales, and personalized reviews with specific examples, or even pictures, will help the company sell more. Think about it like this, when was the last time you bought something without reading a review or watching an unboxing? Customers have the time and ability to know products more intimately than ever before, so make sure the information they are getting is good!

Tag On Social Media

More and more businesses are moving to social media, after all, small businesses are run by people just like you. These businesses are using social media to be seen by their market, and expand to others. Sometimes though, it can be hard for businesses to get their posts where they need to go, and that’s where you come in. As a customer you can tag businesses in product images, reviews, or you using it in action!

This shows the business you care, and by tagging them, you are organically showing all your followers what you are using. This is free advertising for that local business. Try not to make your post look like an ad, people on the internet are well attuned to ads these days, and ignore them immediately.

Gift cards are the ultimate gift!

Give Gift Cards

Gift cards are the ultimate gift! They are more personal than cash but still let the recipient of the card choose what they want. Picking out a gift card from a local business will help the local business. It is no secret that locally crafted items are better quality than anything you find on amazon. This means the gift card buyer is getting high quality merchandise. But, it also helps the local business, Why? The gift card can only be used at their store, and you already paid for the card. You have already supported that business, even if you didn’t want or need anything from that store. Once again, this is a win for all.

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Supporting your local businesses is important to keeping your local economy strong and embracing what makes your region or state unique. Making your home a destination is never a bad thing, just look at Hershey, PA. As more and more things move to Amazon, try to remember your own nearby businesses.

Rory Witkowski
Author: Rory Witkowski

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