My good friend, knowledgeable custom garment expert and experienced business owner Kyle Cross recently sent me some food for thought in an email. What he says makes a lot of sense and I wanted to share it with you:
FROM KYLE CROSS: Most small and medium sized garment decoration shops see the big online shirt companies as the enemy. They are selling directly to their customers without the expense of a brick and mortar storefront. I must admit, the convenience of ordering shirts online is very easy and appealing. Many of the small shops have gone away or at least seen their business decrease as a result of the online shirt sites. The good news is–for those shops who continue to do business–that the online stores have raised the acceptable prices you can charge your customers for garments! The big shirt sites set their prices high in order to accommodate their multi-level sales/productions systems and assure profits. The small shops set their prices slightly lower than the guy down the street with little regard for profitability in order to get sales. As a result, the small guys makes less because prices are not based on real costs + margin, just market knowledge that goes out of date very quickly. Customers primarily buy from online sites for the convience and accept the pricing. That in turn raises what your customers are willing to pay for garments they buy from you. If a customer is shopping your prices, chances are they are getting the comparables from online sites, not the shop across town. That is great news for you! So go ahead, raise your prices to where you can be profitable and compete with those online sites based on your service and accessibility, not price. Don’t forget to thank the big sites for their help, because in small business, help comes from the strangest places.
Thanks for your input Kyle, it makes a lot of sense. The online businesses aren’t going anywhere so local stores need to have a strategy on how to compete. I’ve always encouraged business owners to understand who their competitors are and consistently raise the bar in order to succeed. I’m always open to hear your comments on how you are keeping one step ahead of the competition.