Two Things Your Customers Can't Get Online

Picture of Gina Blitstein Gina Blitstein combines her insight as a fellow small business owner with her strong communication skills, exploring topics that enhance your business efforts. That first-hand knowledge, matched with an insatiable curiosity to know more about just about anything, makes her a well-rounded writer with a sincere desire to engage and inform.

Two Things Your Customers Can't Get Online

If you own an in-person business, as opposed to an online one, you’ve got some stiff competition out there in cyberspace. In so many instances, online businesses offer lower prices, greater selection and unique convenience which are extremely appealing to customers. Are you feeling the crunch as virtual businesses take more and more of your business away? You don’t have to surrender to technology and concede that your customer base is shrinking. The key is to embrace and promote the two things the Internet just can’t provide customers: you and the all-five-senses experience.

1. One thing your business has to offer that those online guys don’t is YOU.

YOUR personality - Although you can create an online “persona” when selling on the Internet, nothing beats in-person for conveying your personality to customers. Little is more important to making a sale as the personality of the salesperson. Customers buy from a salesperson because they like her every bit as much as because they like the product they are buying. When your personality comes across as honest, friendly, good-natured...people will trust your recommendations as they would a friend’s.

YOUR personal relationship - As a flesh-and-blood person, you can do things that build a relationship with customers, like providing information and demonstrating interest in their needs. Because of that relationship, they feel comfortable calling you with a question or concern - probably more so than they would if they had to call a stranger manning a customer service line. When customers feel that you know who they are, there’s an increased likelihood that they will do business with you in preference to an anonymous company.

YOUR experience - Regardless of your field, chances are, you’ve been in it longer than your online counterparts. Dealing with an experienced business makes customers feel they are in good hands. You’ve done or sold this before, to lots of diverse people. You know the product or service backward and forward. These assurances put customers at ease, making buying decisions easier.

YOUR integrity - It’s not that online companies lack integrity. It’s that they lack an individual’s integrity - they lack YOUR integrity. It’s your reputation for honesty and quality that you’ve built and continue to build. You are the face, the driving force, behind the business and you’re not going to risk that with less than stellar products and service. Integrity breeds an accountability that assures customers to trust that doing business with your company is a good decision.

YOUR dedication to personalized service - Online companies try hard to offer outstanding customer care but let’s face it, there’s no substitute for your ability to, in person, express an apology to a dissatisfied customer, go the extra mile to meet a unique need or expedite a delivery when necessary. Customers get to know a real, caring, understanding person is taking their satisfaction to heart.

YOUR knowledge of the location - Local service is something online companies rarely get right. You know the realities and nuances of your area; its neighborhoods, its specific interests, concerns and issues. Your business can directly address and appeal to them.

YOUR community spirit - Among the most impactful influences a local business can have is upon the community in which it operates. A local business feeds the town and its residents by nourishing the economic ecosystem, keeping the community vibrant. Dollars spent at online stores don’t stay local; those spent with and by you, do.

2. All five senses can be involved when selling live and in-person.

You can’t smell the handmade soap, sample the biscotti or feel how soft the alpaca scarf is when you’re only looking at an image on a computer screen. There’s no real way to experience smell, taste or touch through a computer. Even sight, however, is hindered when it’s in only two dimensions. Though there may be numerous images provided, the ability to adequately inspect detail and workmanship could be lacking as well. Likewise, there’s often no better way to judge the weight or sturdiness of an item than by feeling its substance in your own hands. Indeed, when purchasing many items, customers prefer the opportunity to experience them in person.

Even if you are a service company, like an insurance agency, in-person sales has definite benefits over buying policies online. Customers appreciate the opportunity to put a face to the service they are purchasing. To be able to look you in the eye, get a sense of your professionalism, converse face-to-face and shake your hand provides an extra measure of confidence in the transaction.

Even though it seems everything is being sold online, a live experience remains the preferred means to convey relevant details to the customer for many products and services. Remember that a couple aspects, namely, you yourself and a complete sensory experience are only to be found when shopping in person. Embracing and promoting those aspects will ensure that you’ll keep customers coming through your door, despite the rise of online commerce.

How do you embrace and promote the two things your customers can’t get online?

Read other Gina articles