By Rick and Jim Penn

Last holiday season, e-commerce sales increased by double digits. The online retailer most known in this space of course is Amazon. But their success is not only attributed to their 2-day shipping or price points, but rather the other added values that they offer. They built a brand around ease and convenience that resulted in customers turning to them during the holiday season.

As a small business, looking to Amazon for inspiration this holiday season may feel like comparing David and Goliath, but in fact there is a lot we can learn. Their example shows their success is not because they live online, but because their brand stands in line with what customers want. As stated by Witcher in Internet Retailer, “If customers are buying from an online retailer instead of you, you have brand problems, not store problems.”

Effectively communicating your brand is the best way for your added values to resonate with your customers.

Be an expert

So when shopping in your store, what added value does your brand deliver? An instore experience is filled with opportunities for added value. Start with associate expertise. The ability to communicate in person with a knowledgeable associate boosts customer confidence, and is an experience that cannot truly be replicated digitally. When customers come into the store, they already know a little about what they’re shopping for. They’ve done some research beforehand. So when they visit your store, exceed their expectations! Give them the experience and knowledge they couldn’t get anywhere else.

Delight their senses

Your store is the physical framework of your brand. Showcase it with pride. You have the opportunity to offer the sights and sounds of the holidays. Festive decorations and music delight customers’ senses. Merchandise that’s well displayed gives customers a better sense of the product and they instantly feel inspired. The ability to touch and feel their gifts beautifully presented gives them confidence in their purchase. And even after the sale, you can continue to add value with additional services such as free gift wrapping, and easy returns and exchanges.

Give back

As a small business, we know that community involvement can be an important added value to customers. People like to do business with stores that are good role models in the community. For example, offering events that include charitable donations means that for the customer, doing business locally also goes back to help their community. The holidays are the season of giving. Companies that give back are especially important to customers, and it’s a great way to stay true to your brands values. This is your opportunity to support your community, and in turn your customers will support you.

Remember, the holidays aren’t just about shopping for things. It’s about embracing the holiday spirit and enjoying time together with family and friends. Successful stores will break through the clutter and create a meaningful experience for their customers.

Rick and Jim Penn are the owners of Puritan Cape Cod, with retail locations in Hyannis, Falmouth, Mashpee and Chatham. They can be reached at (800) 924-0606 or puritancapecod.com.