Local businesses just need to make that all-important turnaround and embrace the online sales and promotions strategy as their lead sales generator to go 'global'. It is a weaving of a new story.
Local businesses going global has to be a no-brainer, but let us define globalisation first.
In the old days (not so long ago), the term kirana or petty shop was a much-used term, especially among the burgeoning crop of Indian B-Schools [early 90's]. It was the classic case study of a neighbourhood shop (corner store) versus the big retailer. Nilgiris was a departmental store with a largely localised presence, but with global ambitions. Spencers was already a household name for everything under one roof (until the roof caved in - literally). The European-styled Shoppers' Stop was now becoming a behemoth, out to marginalise the small retailer or so-called family-run outfit. So, having taken the example of the earliest organised retailing entities, let us attempt a definition of globalisation.
Let us look at a local business entity selling garments, for example, one that had been at it for over three-odd decades, perfecting its merchandising, the supply chain and credit lines. It also understood consumer behaviour and seasonal cycles and is able to project, to a fairly large extent, its turnover YOY (year on year) based on some critical data analysis and taking into consideration customer loyalty. Everything went fine, until the great river drowned all plans for a glorious sunset for these long-standing local 'giants' - a river called Amazon. In one fell swoop, customer loyalty gave way to freebies and offers and the-clock-is-ticking discounts that had to be grabbed. These 'online tsunamis' drowned scores of brick-and-mortar retailers, overnight.
Small-town and big city retailers alike had to tighten their belts and live off less - the drastically reduced customer footfalls, lower turnover and marginal profits. This scenario of existentialism carried on and was passed down a generation or two, where the next-gen inherited the family business and ploughed on, with a business management degree to boot, nonetheless, to little or no avail.
Cut to today, the 'virus-age' - the game-changer COVID 19 - when supply chains are disrupted, large corporates are being accused of unfair trade practices and consumer confidence in global products (read 'made in China') is at a low ebb and, suddenly, the importance of the local store and domain specialist is back. Whether a woollen store or a chocolatier or a coffee producer, the standalone manufacturer-retailer is back with a bang! Helping this resurgence of the local business is the all-powerful internet, with its 'global' reach.
So here is where the term 'global' gets defined. Take the example of an organic farmer in Puducherry (a southern Indian pocket), who, for the last twenty years has been producing vermicompost at a mid-sized farm and supplying organic manure to a local audience. Now, with the power of the worldwide web (www), he is able to reach an audience beyond the geographical scope of the region. Take, also, the example of a quality chocolate maker, who earlier depended on tourists and walk-ins for purchases, in the popular hill destination Ooty (Tamilnadu), who now effortlessly markets 'signature' chocolates' online. Their 'reach' is as far as Kolkota and Kanpur! How did they manage to pull this off - transporting fresh chocolates to far-off sub-tropical destinations? With the help of ice packs and some incisive online promotional exercises!
So, getting a local business to go 'global' is not that difficult. What is the challenge, though, is to find the right positioning and promotions strategy to get there! There is no better time than now, when confidence in local enterprise is at its best. Call it a homecoming... .