By Millie Davies
Small retailers face a multitude of challenges when entering the market and becoming operational quickly. A combination of the increase in overall costs of doing business that comes with a physical location, alongside today’s consumer constantly seeking a better price point, can make it difficult for less-established retailers to compete against big box retailers.
Small business owners traditionally turn to online and offline resources to alleviate these obstacles, with platforms including Mentorworks.ca and the Canadian government’s Small Business Financing Program useful as a starting resource.
Service providers that cater to the small business demographic have also taken notice of the specific needs of their client base, and have been taking action accordingly. An example would be businesses transitioning from online to physical locations; e-commerce businesses often rely on service providers such as Shopify before turning brick and mortar. Now the company has leveraged this position by providing a service called ‘Hardware’, a ‘complete kit’ for setting up a retail store from scratch. This includes card readers, receipt printers, barcode scanners and cash drawers.
Other service providers are also demonstrating their allegiance to small business; banks including BMO have targeted plans for small businesses that fall into different monetary categories, while TD Canada Trust also carries specific small business banking products. Other service providers have taken different routes; Bullfrog Insurance, a commercial general liability company, has invested in its small retail clients by donating its own marketing dollars into promoting its clients business enterprises.
Bullfrog takes the position that in between coordinating business grants, leasing and day-to-day operations, small businesses are left little time to devote to marketing campaigns that will actually drive sales and increase foot traffic. The company has localized its campaign to support its small business clients in Hamilton and London, Ontario, with a view to expand. By highlighting the brands of its entrepreneurial client base through logo design, social media, and donating advertising billboards, the insurance firm boosts its own reputation while those same customers receive the benefits of its marketing channels.
Today’s service providers are realizing that supporting and investing in their small business clients results in a long-term pay-off. Through boosting start-ups and ensuring their businesses operate as smoothly as possible, clients are likely to stay loyal to their providers who go the extra mile.