Chain stores usually offer better prices than small retailers. This is an advantage they can provide as a result of their size. Customers do not make purchasing decisions based on price alone, however. The entire shopping experience is important for consumers, including the steps leading up to product selection. Small shops fill this niche and retain customers accordingly.
Small retailers usually cater to a niche market and carry a limited range of products. Consequently, they hire employees who know about products, can make recommendations and discuss the relative advantage of one product brand over another. Small shops also know their customers and tend to develop a rapport with them over time. It's not unusual for the boss to be on site and for regular customers to get to know the person in charge. This feeling of a connection to the store leads to repeat business.
A small store requires a smaller amount of square footage. This means a small shop can be located in many more areas than big box stores. A small shop can be close to a residential area, offering customers convenience and accessibility for quick shopping trips. Since an independent retailer makes its own policies, it can adjust its opening hours to benefit its clientele. It can remain open longer during local special events and participate as a sponsor for community activities.
Unlike a large chain, where decisions about what products to stock are made through a lengthy and bureaucratic process, the local shop owner hears directly from customers about what they want and gets it in stock. Fulfilling customers' needs through taking special orders and bringing in unique products is one way to make the small shop a go-to place for customers looking for something specific. The personal service also contributes to customer loyalty and increases word-of-mouth promotion of the business.
Small shops can pursue unique marketing events to enhance personal connections between the store and select customers. A one-time only, private sale for customers on a preferred client list is one possibility, and it can be tailored to fit the local community. Unlike a large retailer, a small store can effectively execute a private sale because of its knowledgeable staff and responsiveness to customer product preferences.