Don’t let the little local shops die!

Those of you who follow me on Instagram have seen it: Last Saturday, I got totally lost in San Francisco with my Roomie. We ended up in the rain, somewhere in Pacific Heights. A local gave us a ride to the next coffee shop. But we wanted to have a look at the bookshop next door first. A bookshop is one of this businesses at risk, because of the huge group of online competitors such as Amazon, just to mention the biggest. But this bookshop has a story to tell: They did not have any mainstream books, but lines of shelves full of discoveries. The shop assistant was so nice and they also offer 15% discount for seniors. Little lovely places like this need to use the advantages of digitalization to survive. Otherwise the next generation of booklovers will not know shops like this anymore.




Digital Transformation does not mean, that everything has to be digital. It means, that people have a choice. And it means, that little shops and ecommerce giants can use the same weapons in the war for attention. Platforms like Facebook allow business users more and more to target audiences exactly. So even with a small budget, you can build a reach – if you work on it constantly. And here is the point: A lot of people cannot imagine, that Social Media and the internet would save the future of their local shops.

While hiding from the rain, I had a conversation with the shop assistant. She told me that they already set up a Facebook page (and they have nearly 600 followers!). But looking at the cashier desk, there was no sign saying “Hey! We are on Facebook! Follow us!” That’s the important thing: There has to be a link between the online and the offline world. In the digital age, only a shop window is not enough! Once you linked your online and your offline audience, you can use the full potential of generic reach. You will reach your customers again and again with just some clicks. Isn’t that fantastic?

After having had this interesting conversation and buying Who owns the future from Jaron Lanier (have a look at it on the Amazon page, then buy it at your local bookshop and tell them about this blog post) we left for a cappucino at the coffee shop nearby. While waiting for my cup, I started a conversation with a local about how lovely this bookshop next door is. He told me, that he buys his books there since he was a child and showed my the local weekend newspaper, where the shop was featured on the front page. Imagine! They would have put a link there to the Facebook page of that shop!

Sorry to bother you with my digital point of view at this point. But I made this experience myself: If you want to grow an audience on Social Media, you have to think Social Media. First, you will feel like a very unknown TV channel no one wants to watch. But if you keep producing content, if you are constantly sending your message out, you will see how more and more people get interested in your programme, watch your content, click your links and send you feedback. The first 3 to 6 months will be super hard. Put a lot of chocolate, wine or whatever helps you to survive depressive moments aside and go through it! The earlier, the better! Set yourself targets, ask all your friends, relatives and business partners to follow your business site and be proud of yourself once your site has reached the first magic line of 1000 followers. But: never stop sending/ posting/ telling your stories!

The second challenge will be to link the online with the offline world. As shop owner, you have so much physical space where you can put a link to your online appearance on. Be creative! I always regret not having a physical product (yet). But if I would have one, you would definitely find a link on the packaging. Try to think Social Media. Try to understand it as a new language. Look around, what other people do and be creative. Please! I cannot hide under a website, when I get lost in the rain. And those couples would never have met, when there haven’t been this little bookshop mentioned above. I would be personally sad, if shops like these would all die. Please get digital, now!

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