From the bustle to the bright open skies: Get the balance right as a regional retailer
When you think of Rural and Regional Australia, what do you see? Booming businesses? Successful Entrepreneurship and an overflow of opportunity? No? Really? I think you could be mistaken…
It is estimated that over 30% of Australians live outside of the major cities, and despite misconceptions the population is actually rising in regional Australia. Yep, it seems that more than 10% of us were craving those green open fields over the last decade; they seemed to prefer clean air and countryside to the noise and chaos of the big city.
I have to say, being from a tiny English town myself (I really do mean tiny, I lived down a dirt track 20 miles from anywhere), I see the beauty in rural Australia. I understand the warmth and safety the countryside gives you and as a full-time explorer, 10-year-old me saw opportunity everywhere. But then time demanded that I grew up, and it was time to explore the kind of opportunities that pay the bills (far less fun), and that’s when I had to leave my chocolate-box childhood and face the hustle and bustle of Australian city life.
Keep it Real
However, I was wrong about the lack of opportunities my tiny town could offer me. One of the most profitable businesses was a local café that only sourced and sold local ingredients and celebrated and supported their community. Not only that, the independent retailers were killing it against the giants that came and went. They held on to what made them unique which was face-to-face retail and exceptional customer service.
One Step Further
But I’m afraid it’s not all sunny skies and singing birds. Retail has changed so much in the last 10 years alone and having an online presence will continue to become an essential part of any booming business. You are now no longer competing with next door, or the next town or even the big cities. You are one tiny player in a global market.
If you are not a ‘digital native’, it is vital to develop the skills to help you and your business thrive in an overcrowded marketplace. Get your brand out there for more to see and use social media platforms like Instagram to make your brand desirable and relatable to your target market. You can use these social media platforms to drive more customers to your website, build your online presence, keep up with trends, source new markets and continue to increase your visibility as a successful regional retailer.
Bring it all together
Yes, having an online presence is essential in a digital world. But it won’t be the only reason you survive and thrive. Going back to what I said about the successful businesses in my hometown and the reasons they were so successful. Yes, it is partly because they were able to grow their online presence, to design beautiful, simple and concise websites that were interactive and engaging to their consumer. But they were also aware that bricks-and-mortar is not dying. They were able to interactive with their customers, still provide exceptional customer service and support their local community.
I think this could really be the vital thing here. Regional is different to the big city. It is calmer and more connected, and businesses need to find the balance between this and the ever-expanding, chaotic, global retail industry.
Hold onto to what makes you special, but be aware that people also want fast, cheap and easy; and that is where your online presence comes in.