What does “local business” mean to you? I think that the defining characteristic of a local business is that they expect to have personal relationships with their customers. It isn’t about the size of the business or even if they operate outside of the area where they are located. I consider our county’s largest private employer, Black Oak Casino, to be a local business, whereas I wouldn’t say the same for UV Skinz, which is a manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer of UV resistant clothing.
Shopper’s expectations are rising for local business websites
A new survey by Yodle of 6,000 US adults shows that most consumers want to support local and small businesses but they also expect those businesses to be digitally sophisticated.
While consumers understand that they may have to pay somewhat more at local businesses, they also believe that the shopping experience will be better overall. A majority of those surveyed believe that local businesses are more trustworthy and deliver better quality than big box stores.
However, consumers also want local business to price their products aggressively, offer special deals and loyalty programs, and improve their websites. When asked which website features would influence their perception of a local business, the following features were rated either “expected” or “sets business apart”:
- Special offers for returning customers – 88%
- Online reviews about the business – 76%
- Ability to book/request an appointment online – 61%
- Ability to pay online – 62%
- Ability to leave a review about the business – 62%
Speaking of reviews, the survey contradicts the popular notion that most people leave a review only when they have a negative experience. In answer to the question, “why did you post a review of a local business?”
- Positive experiences – 80%
- Negative experiences – 49%
- Discovered a new business or hidden gem – 28%
- Habit/routine – 7%
Fully 89% said that they “would leave a review if asked”. This suggests that business owners can gain the benefits of online reviews simply by making the request and directing their customers to the appropriate page on Yelp, Facebook or Google+.
When it comes to communications, consumers prefer email, suggesting that businesses should build their customer email lists and take advantage of email communications. Those surveyed preferred receiving the following forms of communication:
- Email – 69%
- Phone – 14%
- Text – 7%
- Social Media – 7%
- US Mail – 3%
For more statistics, along with colorful charts and graphs, see Survey: Consumers Prefer to Shop Local but Expect Digital Sophistication, on the Screenwerk blog.
The full survey report can be downloaded from Yodle (registration required).
This article originally published in the Webdancers Newsletter. Click here to subscribe.
Illustration courtesy of Main Street Technologies.