British supermarkets show small online retailers how to succeed

British supermarkets have said a collective “thank you” to investigators who were looking at suggestions the stores were anti-competitive. The Competition Commissioners found that all was OK with the supermarkets. This is in spite of the fact that many small store owners complained that the large superstore owners were driving them out of business.

Well guess what – no-one drives anyone else out of business. All that happens with competition is that it forces you to respond. If you fail to respond or take action it is your lack of response that drives you out of business.

Here’s what has happened at many corner stores in the UK. They have opened at 9am and closed at 6pm. Many closed for an hour at lunchtime and some even had a half day closing. They could do this, in spite of the fact that their customers wanted different opening hours, because there was no competition.

So, along comes a supermarket that opens 24 hours. What’s the response of the corner shop? Complain. They don’t think of providing an alternative offering, they don’t consider improving service, changing opening hours or any other alteration in their decades of “stuck in the mud” behaviour. No, their route to their dreams is complain. Then they close down because they’ve lost their customers.

It’s the same online, if you fail to respond to competition you will lose online shoppers from your site. Responding to competitive pressure is essential; you cannot stick to your old ways – your customers will leave, sooner than you can say “supermarket”.

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