July is National Independent Retailer Month. We use this moment to celebrate independent retailers, large and small, who carefully crafted their own brand, brand experience, and deep relationships with their customers.
How can shoppers help? Simple: Make a conscious decision to purchase directly from an independent retailer this month.
At Bolt, this isn’t just a one-month moment for us—it’s our mission to democratize commerce. We envision a world rich with flourishing, independent businesses where merchants of all sizes can sell more, grow faster, and compete with huge retail giants. We cherish independent retailers and want to help them reclaim their direct-to-consumer relationships and succeed in today’s competitive retail environment.
According to Digital Commerce 360’s latest “2021 Top 1000 Report,” the top 1000 retailers’ market share grew to 84.2% in 2020. That growth came at the expense of smaller, independent competitors.
The largest of the large had substantial advantages during the challenging times of the 2020 pandemic: they already have high brand recognition; they have large budgets to spend on ads and the latest bells and whistles for their online stores; and they own and operate mega marketplaces that offer millions of products to shoppers.
Independent retailers are caught between a rock and hard place: Should they focus on maintaining their carefully-crafted brand experience and try to compete for individual shoppers independently against the Goliaths of retail? Or should they sacrifice their brand experience and sell their products on marketplaces that already have the latest bells and whistles and millions of active shoppers?
The dilemma presents two disappointing choices. But does it have to be this way?
Today’s online shoppers are more conscious than ever before, and perhaps surprisingly, they want to support independent retailers. A recent study by SiteCore shows that 40% of U.S. shoppers would like to reduce the amount of shopping they do on Amazon, with one of the top three reasons being the desire to help independent retailers.
But of course, the biggest leverage for Amazon is that many shoppers aren’t ready to give up the convenience, ease and speed of a one-click checkout just to shop independent.
That’s where another option arises. At Bolt, we’ve pioneered the ability for retailers to join a shopper and retailer network.
Each month, hundreds of thousands of shoppers are joining the over-7-million-shopper-strong Bolt network so they can purchase at independent retailers and still check out with just one click. On top of that, they get all the benefits of having store accounts with each retailer, but don’t need to remember usernames and passwords for each.
For independent retailers, that means they can keep their branded experience—from the first store visit all the way through checkout and post-purchase experiences—and maintain their direct-to-consumer relationships through shopper accounts, all while offering the same one-click checkout convenience as marketplaces.
That gives smaller, boutique retailers the opportunity to compete on an even playing field. It means they don’t have to give up their brand or their independence. They can stay, build, and win, and they marry the quality and consumer relationships they are known for with the ease and speed of a modern shopping experience. That is what we mean when we talk about “democratizing commerce.”
We hope you’ll take some time to learn about our retailers, and perhaps most importantly, we hope that you make a conscious choice this month to support an independent retailer.
Happy National Independent Retailer Month!