How Your Brick and Mortar Store Can Survive in an Online World

Amazon is no reason to give up. It’s a reason to dig deeper.
Photo Credit: Archery Connection

Author: Cassie Gasaway

Does the word “Amazon” make you groan in disgust?

You’re not alone. Amazon affects almost every industry in America. In fact, pundits and economists invoke “The Amazon Effect” when discussing how e-commerce affects traditional brick-and-mortar business models. Amazon has forever changed shopping patterns, customer expectations, and the competitive landscape.

But Amazon is a platform, not a person. It has no passion or personality. If you think it’ll run you out of business, you’re granting it too much power. You wouldn’t surrender if another archery retailer opened nearby, so look at Amazon as just another competitor and adapt to this online world. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

To start, don’t focus on the problem, Amazon. Instead, focus on the solution, your business. Your road-side store differs greatly from Amazon. Understanding and embracing those differences helps you succeed. That starts with an unblinking self-evaluation. Why are you losing sales to e-commerce? Define your problems and fix them, but realize that requires change.

Let’s review five retail problems that push people away, and solutions that win them back.

Set up a booth or tent at local events like art fairs and markets and provide the chance to try archery. Photo credit: Lancaster Archery

Problem 1: Archers don’t know you exist.

Solution: Build brand awareness in person and online.

Potential customers discover archery every day, but many of them know nothing about your business. You must make your business known far beyond your building. Show consumers you can help them enjoy a fun, unique and exciting sport.

ATA-member retailers should be active, engaged community members. Volunteer to help clubs, tournaments, festivals, carnivals, concerts, school programs, and parks-and-recreation events. Community events help you meet people and build brand awareness. Click here to learn more.

A strong online presence helps businesses attract and engage customers. How do you represent yourself and your business online? It’s not the same as selling products through e-commerce site. Companies with a good online presence pop up on Yelp, Google, Facebook and YouTube. Top companies also stay active online by regularly posting useful, relevant content while engaging with social followers. Read the ATA article “Generate Profit-Driving Content for Your Website” to learn their secrets.

Customers looking for a new bow start their search online. If they don’t find your business in that search, they’ll likely turn to Amazon. Make sure potential customers know your location, how to reach you, and how you can introduce them to archery. Hand out business cards and post your information so it’s easily found online. Create a marketing plan to ensure you reach your target audience.


Problem 2: People don’t see your value.

Solution: Tell customers about your services, products and offerings. Explain how you can answer questions and solve problems.

People don’t know what they don’t know. You must help customers and potential customers learn everything you offer. Help them see your shop as a place to shoot, get professional service, and buy quality products.

Advertise programs, products and services that e-commerce sites lack, including clubs, leagues, classes, events, repairs, expert tuning, private lessons, indoor or outdoor ranges, and face-to-face interaction. Show and tell them how you can help.

Are you a certified instructor? Instructor certification boosts your business’s credibility and marketing value. It tells customers you’re an expert who can be their instructor. Advertise that you—and your staff—are certified. Show customers that you run a professional store with expert staff.

Make your business the community’s information source for archery and bowhunting. Provide and explain hunting regulations and bag limits, which licenses or permits they need, and where they can go hunting. Post local, regional and state archery events on your website, social media, and in-store calendar. You can also share archery and bowhunting articles to your website using the ATA’s free widgets.


Problem 3: Your store is uninviting.

Solution: Create a friendly atmosphere that attracts and holds customers.

No one shops where they feel unsafe, unwelcome or uncomfortable. If you run your business from your home or an older building, you might think it’s “warm and welcoming.” But it might intimidate newcomers, especially females or youngsters who feel more “warm and welcome” browsing Amazon from their couch.

Your business must appeal to all senses to attract customers. That includes an inviting storefront, sufficient parking, clean counters, spacious aisles, and well-displayed inventory. And your inventory must equip beginners, advanced archers, and those with disabilities. Your business should also recruit and welcome minorities, present a customer-friendly layout, and provide positive shopping experiences. Strive to create a place where people enjoy hanging out. For  specific ideas, read ATA’s article “Make Newcomers Feel Welcome in Your Shop.”

Bond with your customers to make them feel like part of the family. Photo Credit: Lancaster Archery

Problem 4: You lack personal connections.

Solution: Treat customers like family.

Get this: Half the respondents in a Coldwell Banker survey said they’d give up a lower price online in exchange for personalized help or advice from in-store staff.

Most people crave the human interactions Amazon can’t provide. But you can. People are perceptive and quick to judge, so make good first impressions. You and your staff must greet customers with a smile, self-confidence, attentive posture, and positive voice while listening to their needs. You can’t help customers if you don’t understand their goals. Likewise, you must help them defeat fear, conquer participation barriers, and shoot consistent bull’s-eyes.

You must lead by example by teaching your employees to be friendly, courteous and helpful. Communicate with customers to build trust and enduring relationships. Connect with them online, too. Respond to all customer reviews, positive and negative, on Yelp, Google and social media. That shows you’re a pro who listens, and that you care about their experiences with your service, products and business.

Click here to learn more about creating lifelong customers.


Problem 5: Your service is slow.

Solution: Provide quick, efficient and reliable service.

Most customers like to get in and get out. If they wait for service or stand in a long checkout line, they’ll grow impatient and frustrated. They’ll shop elsewhere, whether it’s your competitor down the road or on their computer screen.

People shop online because it’s quick, easy and convenient. Your store must provide the same experience. They must find what they’re seeking, buy it, and be on their way. Some customers, of course, linger for conversation. Read your customers’ body language and facial expressions to ensure you provide the service and shopping experience they seek.

We’re here to help you compete with e-commerce. Questions? Contact Kurt Smith at (717)-478-5919, or

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