• Shannon J. Schmidt

Part 1: It's Time for Small Business Retail to Rise

“If there is any period one would desire to be born in, is it not the age of revolution; when the old and the new stand side by side, and admit of being compared; when the energies of all men are searched by fear and hope; when the historic glories of the old can be compensated by the rich possibilities of the new era? This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Small business has been our historic driver of prosperity in America and 2019 is no exception. Small business accounts for roughly 40% of the Gross Domestic Product and small business accounts for 66% of all jobs created in the past 25 years, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. New York Times recently reported the dramatic growth of entrepreneurship programs in public and private Universities and Colleges from 16 such programs in 1970 to over 1,500 today.

Small business is imperative for the American economy, yet now more than ever small business is threatened in growth and sustainability. This threat by and large is due to the proliferation of the digital and e-commerce economy. Most hard hit, is the small business independent retailer.

New innovative business strategies and tactics are necessary for the livelihood of small independent retailers. However, innovation isn’t new for the small independent retailers. In fact, it is small business where much of the innovation occurs and first iterations are incubated. Small business is where America’s pioneering spirit lives and is exemplified every day and retail is certainly no exception.

Are you Ready? We will explore the first part of our blog series to highlight trends and drivers in retail change.


Advancements in communications technology have created a more personal experience. The customization and specialization of products have created a more personal experience. Experience is the hallmark of the new paradigm. New media and communication give consumers new choices that match their interests has created a more personal experience. Access to information has created more personal experience. Alan Toffler has called it "demassification". The term refers to the deconstruction of homogenous, one-size fits all opportunities and focuses on the rise of personalized, experiential experiences.

This desire and demand for personalized experiences is key for independent retailers that can leverage their inherent advantages of flexibility and customer intimacy to create a more personalized experience for their customers. While technology permits sophisticated data-based marketing and promotions, small independents are still the best poised to get to know their customers individually as they are often a personal part of their lives. Knowledge of customers’ birthdays, favorite colors, clothing size, familial details, time of day they like to shop and other information that is not just pleasantry—small independent retailers must seek to leverage this key advantage. It can be and essential driver of sales. While large national brands can employ slogans like "reach out and touch someone," it is more likely the small independent retailer who can actually shake their hand and touch someone.

What is your take-away?

What can you do today to better connect with your customers?