Doing business locally
Posted on 14th December 2022
The study involved more than 3,200 small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) across Europe and Africa, including the UK. A quarter of UK businesses said their challenge was reaching new customers and more than two-thirds said they are in ‘survival mode’. Eight out of 10 said they were feeling unprepared for the future and wanted to optimise customer service and experience to support growth.
Is digitisation the answer?
Recently many businesses have turned to ecommerce as customers buy more and more online. In response, a third of UK businesses see digitisation as an integral part of their growth and most have started using new technology to help them prepare for the future.
Half of UK businesses said they will be investing in marketing and improved customer experiences with technology and innovation playing an important part. Sustainability is also an increased focus for UK businesses including packaging, with the majority of customers wanting more environmentally friendly options.
However, there are also opportunities for businesses to stabilise and grow, right on their doorstep.
Buying local in 2023
‘Farm-to-fork’ food is a good example of how buying locally can support and build a sustainable economy. Innovations in food processing and storage meant we could enjoy food from around the world but by the 1970s people were becoming interested in choosing local, sustainable agriculture. Now, many people are aware of the issues around the miles all products travel and, with the increasing cost of fuel, that has an impact on costs too.
There are plenty of compelling reasons why buying locally is important for small business success.
It’s a trend – according to a 2021 study, four out of 10 customers are keen to buy from local businesses and farms. Knowing where our purchases come from is becoming more important.
Local stories engage customers – customers are genuinely interested in the stories behind the brands they like. It’s the perfect way for businesses to differentiate themselves from competitors. Having local connections helps customers relate to your business and choose to buy from you.
Building the local economy – choosing suppliers already based in your community helps to support the local economy. It reduces the cost of transport, helping to keep prices down in the face of inflation. It will also help to improve local employment rates, strengthen communities, and keep more money local.
Environmental impact – when products don’t have to travel so far, businesses’ carbon footprints can be reduced which will appeal to customers.
Food is fresher – when we’re talking about local food produce it will be fresher and much less likely to spoil when it can be transported for a shorter distance. That can help reduce the need to preservatives and refrigeration.
Seasonal demand – whether you’re talking about Christmas trees or summer houses, buying locally gives customers a stronger seasonal connection with their purchases. You can cost-effectively showcase your products at their best and share unique stories with your customers at local shows and events.
Local connections – building connections within your community provides firm foundations for many small businesses, including mutual benefits such as trusted recommendations and referrals. Customers will often also be willing to pay a premium for locally produced goods.
You can share your local stories in MK Pulse and NN Pulse magazines, Business Times and Business MK. You can also build your local connections and meet potential new suppliers at our Business Expo events.
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