Customer Service Key to Fighting Online Sales

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Mar. 3, 2014 12:00 am  

While some retailers are happy with the growth of online sales, it’s not good news for everyone.

Sylvester Smith, the Arkansas director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said his small retail members can’t compete with the lower prices of larger online retailers like

He said he’s received a number of complaints from some of the 4,000 federation members about “showrooming,” the consumer habit of coming to a store to check out an item — even try on a garment — only to then order it from an online vendor. Even smaller stores that have a retail website generally can’t compete on price.

Smith said one way he is encouraging his members to compete is by wooing customers with better service.

“The ones that are thriving are really thriving due to service,” he said.

The small retailers should be able to anticipate the needs of their customers. And small-business owners should be available to answer questions if a customer has a problem.

“Customers know if there’s a problem with the purchase, they can just drive up the street and get that resolved immediately,” Smith said. “And those are the benefits that local, small firms can provide that the huge Web-based retailers will never be able to touch."



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