How Can We Save Small Businesses?
Did you know… in 2017, 5,855 High Street shops closed for business? (Source: The Guardian) The internet has changed our lives for good, bringing benefits and drawbacks to us all. One drawback is the loss of livelihood for the business owners and staff of retail outlets that simply couldn’t survive. If we are to save more small businesses from the same fate, something has to change.
Stock Management to Increase Sales
Years ago, I was a Content Writer for a small toy business. In the beginning we were a team of three, my list of responsibilities quickly grew. Ordering, Buying, Stock Control and more all became part of my job, I wrote about it here. Truthfully, I loved being responsible for the transformation in the business’s performance and I rapidly developed a bad case of ‘stock management OCD’, order what sells, stop ordering what doesn’t, experiment with new lines and make sure what people asked for was in stock. It’s that last bit that I want to talk about today.
Discounts for the ‘Big Boys’, Penalties for Small Businesses
I managed to significantly increase the margin, but some lines put a dent in it. Take for example the Rubik’s cube. Rubik’s Cube was available on Amazon for just less than the price the supplier charged us. In fact, walk round the corner to WH Smith and it was on sale for at least £4 less than our price. The suppliers penalise small businesses for buying in small quantities. We would need to make a loss if we were to be anywhere close to ‘competitive’. Our customers had a choice to either:
- Pay more out of loyalty
- Take their custom elsewhere
What would you do?
Predictably, it became a viscious circle, the games we ordered in small quantities were priced too high (even when making little or no margin for the business) so sales were rare, people associate ‘small business’ with ‘expensive’.
Suppliers Could Support Small Businesses
We watched as toy shop after toy shop closed its doors, they simply couldn’t compete. Did suppliers do anything to help? No, they watched too. What could they have done? They could have levelled the playing field and sold to small businesses at an equally favourable rate. I know these businesses were never going to be able to buy in the same quantities as the supermarket giants but is it not a little short-sighted of them to stick rigidly to their policy of charging more for items ordered in low quantities? The result is they are not selling to those businesses in any quantities now, ‘lose-lose’. Come on suppliers, rather than forcing them out of business, do your bit to support small businesses, it’s a more sustainable solution for everyone.