Shopping small helps us all
Monday marked the annual online retail celebration that many look forward to in the hopes of finding a sweet deal on electronics, home goods, personal healthcare products and quite literally everything in between. It was Amazon Prime Day – the day (and now an additional half day) where Amazon slashes its prices for its Prime customers with limited supplies and for a limited time only.
It is human nature that people are attracted to the concept of a “sale.” Sales indicate that you are getting a bargain, a deal that would be simply foolish to pass up. When you see a giant flat screen television going for $300 less than its “actual ticketed retail price,” your body may actually have a physical reaction to this information received by your brain.
The concept of getting a great deal on something having a physical effect on your body goes back to when coupons were first introduced in the 1800s, most notably by the Coca Cola Company. A study in 2012 showed that people who received a $10 coupon for a product experienced significant physiological differences than those who did not, including lower stress levels, lowered heart rates and an 11 percent overall increase in happiness.
Although Amazon, a company that experienced a $1.86 billion net profit (that’s profit after taking expenses into consideration) in the fourth quarter of 2017, certainly doesn’t need to be concerned with their bottom line after slashing 30 percent here and 50 percent here on a fraction of the items for sale within its gargantuan selection, they understand the value of creating hype and excitement within their customer base, and they have the resources to provide the instant gratification that is so important when establishing lifelong customers. That is what Prime Day is all about.
This publication only wishes that small businesses had the same ability.
According to the Rhode Island Small Business Administration report from 2018, there are 99,821 small businesses in Rhode Island, which accounts for 98.9 percent of all businesses in Rhode Island. These businesses employ over half the total workforce in Rhode Island, about 224,000 employees.
Small businesses do not have the luxury of being able to slash their prices to bring in more customers. All that they are able to do is try to build loyalty through their hard work and quality of products. If they are lucky and dedicated enough to earn a social media following, this can be a huge boon to business. In many more cases, small business owners don’t have the time or resources to invest the effort needed to make a social media page really bloom. They rely more on word of mouth and online reviews to generate enthusiasm for their products and services.
This also means that small business owners have very little margin for error. If a customer has a negative experience – even if they are way off base in their anger – a pessimistic, one-star review can do serious damage to a small business’s image and cause serious financial harm. Small business owners must treat every customer, even the ones who don’t really deserve it, like gold – because they essentially are.
This is why, as countless among us undoubtedly at least checked Amazon for what the deals of Prime Day had in store, hopefully even more of us made a conscious decision to shop locally and shop small. While certain products are simply no longer available except from a big box store, there is ample opportunity to find local artisans for décor, home goods, fashion and more niche products.
The best thing about small businesses is how you may not even be aware of the types of products sold by people who also happen to be your neighbors until you seek them out. You can also feel good about these purchases, as they contribute to your local economy and can bolster somebody’s dream of owning and operating a business of their own.
While Amazon has done some amazing work raising money through their Amazon Smile project, there are plenty of reasons to still be wary of their corporate practices. These are not necessary concerns when you purchase a candle from someone who made it in their own kitchen, or knitted a blanket with their own fingers.
While Prime Day generates excitement, shopping locally is what generates a healthy economy that benefits us all.