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Independent Retailer Month: Tips to Prepare for the Campaign

The Independent Retailer Month is a campaign that celebrates and highlights the US indie retail industry throughout July every year. Small and independent retailers play a crucial role in the communities they serve, the local economy they contribute to, and the retail sector as a whole.

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Indeed, small and independent retailers drive the US economy as they account for an estimated 11.5 million jobs, i.e., 40% of the total jobs in the US retail industry. Offering a whopping $1.58 trillion in wages and benefits, the independent retailers are responsible for ⅙ of the US GDP.

With such massive influence on the US economy, it’s only apt to celebrate the independent retail sector for an entire month, with the goal of connecting communities to consumers and supporting the diversity of indie retail businesses together. The indie retail communities host fun activities to spread awareness among consumers about the benefits of shopping local and from independent brands.

History of Independent Retailer Month

Clare Rayner, known as The Retail Champion, first started the Independent Retailer Month campaign in July 2011. The invasion of big retail chains has adversely affected the local retail economy over the past several years. Equipped with massive advertising budgets, big players have posed a threat to the independent retail and local business ecosystem. Since the establishment of the Independent Retailer Month campaign, consumers have become aware of shopping locally to help millions of dollars return to the local business communities.

Why You Should Support Indie Retailers and Small Businesses

Simply by shopping at a small local retailer, you would be contributing to the overall quality of life in your own community.

  • For each dollar spent on a local independent retailer, as much as 60 cents keep circulating within the local community. To put that in perspective, it’s only 20 cents and 6 cents for a chain store and a big box store, respectively.
  • Also, the money consumers spend on a locally-owned business circulate in the local community three times longer, because local businesses buy from local suppliers and engage local service providers.
  • Establishing a local business requires less infrastructure investment from the local government, which essentially means lower initial and ongoing maintenance costs to the taxpayers.  
  • Local businesses are environmentally friendly since they are established in the commercial corridors and buy raw materials from local producers. On the other hand, big box stores and chain stores depend heavily on transportation of goods from long distances, which contributes to local pollution.
  • Apart from creating business ownership, local business economy creates a supportive and sustainable ecosystem that generates employment opportunities in the local communities.

How to Revamp Your Indie Retail for Better Visibility

If you’re an independent retailer or supplier, the National Independent Retailer Month is a great opportunity for you to revamp your promotional strategy and boost your store’s visibility. 

Here are some ideas to make the most of this campaign.

Revisit Your Business Website

If you have a website for your independent retail shop, it’s time to revisit it and, if needed, update business information such as business address and contact information. Moreover, update the product information based on your current stock of product items. Make sure your website is accessible from mobile devices and the contact form is working properly.

Spruce up Local SEO Strategy

Today, most consumers use search engines to find local business information. Therefore, it’s important to optimize your website to help it appear in local search engines such as Google and Bing. You need to build a profile for your shop on Google My Business and Bing Places for Business. More importantly, you need to revisit those profiles and update the business information and product listings. If you are running any special offers for July, add them to your profiles too. These tactics will help Google and Bing find your shop easily when your prospects use search engines to find local business information.

Keep Information Current on Yelp

If you’re a small and independent retailer, chances are you’re already on Yelp. However, simply being there may not be good enough. If your Yelp listing is incomplete or outdated, it may not appear among the top results for local queries. To avoid this, you need to update the business information, add the most recent pics of your products and store locations, and announce any special offers during the National Independent Retailer Month. More importantly, if there are any unresolved complaints from any previous customers, try to contact the buyers and resolve their issues. Negative and unresolved customer reviews may discourage your prospects from visiting your store.

Become a Member at Local Chamber of Commerce

There are many benefits of becoming a member at your local chamber of commerce. To start with, you get membership accreditation that allows you to display the logo of your local chamber of commerce on your website. This logo resonates with your visitors and boosts your credibility, which invariably translates into more people willing to do business with you. Moreover, being accredited will give you access to a large network of people in the local industry.

Sign up with Business District Directories

Many consumers turn to business district directories to look for local information of their interest. When you sign up with your local business directories, your shop becomes easily visible to your prospective customers. Moreover, you get a free quality link to your website which helps boost its SEO value.

Great Resources for Indie Retailers to Stay Ahead of the Curve

As a small, independent entrepreneur and retailer, you tend to spend a large chunk of your time servicing customers and attracting prospects, which leaves you little time to learn new techniques or emerging trends. In today’s competitive business world, not staying current essentially means missed opportunities. Humayun Khan from Shopify has put together a very useful list of retail blogs to help small business owners plan, learn, and improve their stores.

We hand-picked a few hidden gems from the list for you.

Retail Minded: Retail Minded (RM) is one of the most trusted resources for independent retailers, focusing on both the work and life aspects of small business retailers. Funded by Nicole Leinbach Reyhle in 2007, Retail Minded has remained the go-to source of marketing advice for retailers and small business owners.

Duct Tape Marketing: Duct Tape Marketing is a leading marketing blog which provides actionable marketing tactics for small business owners. The popular blog has been founded by John Jantsch — a renowned marketing consultant, speaker, and author of three books — who has been described as the “Peter Drucker of small business marketing tactics” by Seth Godin.

CrossCaps’ Retail Marketing Blog: CrossCaps’ retail marketing blog is a must-read for independent retailers as it is exclusively dedicated to retail marketing technologies. Having worked with several Fortune 1000 retailers with the planning, execution, and analysis of their omni-channel marketing plans, CrossCaps’ blog is the ultimate source for tips, tactics and inspirations. 

Design 4 Retail: If you want to enhance your retail design knowledge and keep up with the latest display strategies of popular brands such as Anthropologie and Fendi, Design 4 Retail is the right place to start. Run by an agency whose clients include Adidas, Hillarys and Diesel, the blog features the best of retail design curated by design specialists who have a wealth of experience working with the hottest retail brands. 

Retail Adventures Blog: The Retail Adventures Blog is run by Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender who share their unique perspectives as speakers, authors, consumer anthropologists and consultants to some of the world’s biggest retailers. With tips on customer service, merchandising, and everything in between, the blog is an absolute must for running a thriving independent retail store.  

Final Thoughts

The National Independent Retailer Month is all about celebrating your identity, freedom and significance in your community. Joining the campaign not only gives you access to your potential customers, but also brings pride and joy to the work you do. It is important to show solidarity with your fellow indie retailers, because you are one of many who benefit from the local business community. Regardless of the size of your business, join the movement this month and showcase the diversity of small, independent retailers.