We all know how Amazon revolutionized retail business and actually decimated thousands of small mom and pop
retail businesses. But even those retailers that have survived have needed to revamp their business models. You can no longer compete based upon volume and price, but have to identify what differentiates your business and focus on your sweet spot. Two examples of that at CI Works include In Home Design – that offers an experiential version where you can actually experience what a room in your home could look like and then pick the specific furniture and lighting that appeals to an individual’s tastes. They also offer various customizations to both design inputs to your room and physical changes to individual pieces to fit the room size and appearance as well as very unique pieces and customizations. A second is BareWolf Brewing – where they do not compete on volume or price, but offer the best tasting beer you can imagine and a revolving beer list that is always changing and almost never repeats – which does not attempt to compete with Bud, Coors, or even Heineken. BareWolf has developed their own niche and attracted a customer base that is taste and quality focused and have removed price competition from their arsenal.
We also have a bank as a tenant in a small office space – US Bank – Residential Mortgages. They have added an office in a hot residential market – eastern New England. They can then leverage the strengths of the bank – access to extensive capital base and a robust regulatory infrastructure – that exists based in Minnesota. They do not have the expensive branch office infrastructure nor the high costs of a large employee base. They use technology to offer a product that a market needs and can still compete on the base of access as well as price. This is an advantage that small local banks will find it a challenge to compete with and money transfer is now a very automated access from anywhere commodity.
We also have tenants that can provide differentiating marketing services and customer reach. A large percentage of shopping is now done via the internet and companies need to be able to get noticed in this broad frontier. Video – is one key element that aggressively attracts attention. Anchor Hitch Media is a tenant here at CI Works that produces cost effective videos that highlights product differentiation in a very understandable way. A dozen small businesses at CI Works is leveraging Anchor Hitch expertise and is using video in their marketing efforts – something that small businesses do not see as available. Social media is another valuable tool that any business can use to enhance their reach via the internet – the individual business just needs to know how. We utilize Lightning Launch at CI Works for development of our web site and also our social media strategy. They have been a huge asset in developing tools that we were neither aware of nor technologically capable of deploying that have received tremendous positive feedback for CI Works………www.ciworks.us.
Finally, small businesses must learn to compete and communicate their unique strengths and differentiation from the big guys – like Amazon and even the remaining big box stores. They must learn to compete in a manner that can work for them and identify the customers that are searching for differentiation and service they offer that large volume and price based competition that will not be able to compete with them.