big box

Another Box Store Down… Hello Small Startup

With the announcement of yet another big box store – Sports Authority – closing all its stores, one might wonder what the future of the big box stores will look like going forward. In the last decade, we’ve grown quite used to this: Circuit City, Borders, Linens and Things, just to name a few. But why is this? And what does this mean for the little guys?

“If your startup doesn’t have a social media presence, it’s time to get on it quickly – it can be almost as bad as bad reviews.”

Never has there been a better time to own a small business, as long as you’re good at what you do. With the advent of social media, a small business can become an overnight sensation, drawing in hundreds or thousands of new customers while paying virtually nothing in advertising. With the rise of eCommerce, online retail channels, and crowdfunding sites, there are significant resources available to help quickly get small businesses off the ground. What’s important to note is that if you’re not good at what you do, these resources can easily work against you.

Let’s have a look at the local Sports Authority here in Reno.

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The Google reviews clearly aren’t helping this store out any. The Yelp reviews aren’t much better either.

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Regardless of how big a “big box” store is, the way their customers perceive them will inevitably catch up to them. In a social world, the customer has the power in that they can easily share their experience with the world. A consistently bad customer experience can end a business rather quickly, as was clearly the case with Sports Authority. This can be great news for the little guy, even if you’re not starting a sporting goods store.

Not only does the fall of a big box store open up market share for others, it validates the power of social proof. A small business creating an extraordinary customer experience will undoubtedly find the social proof to back it, because it’s now part of the world we live in.

How do you know if social proof is working for your small startup? Get on Google and find out. Many business being started today are beginning on social media, often times before they even have their website up. If your startup doesn’t have a social media presence, it’s time to get on it quickly – it can be almost as bad as bad reviews. If your reviews aren’t quite as appealing as you might have hoped, take ownership and acknowledge them. Lay out a plan for how your going to address them, and try to specifically address those who wrote them. While it may not seem as readily apparent, this applies even in the B2B world. Good customer service spreads quickly, and can be a key differentiator even when a business can’t compete on cost.

Small business owners rejoice! This is your time! Work hard on creating an unforgettable customer experience, and you’re almost guaranteed to have success. Oh yeah, and make sure you use that Sports Authority coupon soon if you’ve got one.

Is the fall of big box stores ushering in a new era of small businesses? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.