Guest Post by Aaron Blackman

Many appliance retailers feel they’re on their own when they either begin in the industry or are growing or franchising their existing business. They often work hard at creating a well functioning and aesthetically pleasing store, increasing traffic through costly advertising and promotions and maintaining long term relationships with their customers, or at least they try to.

Many retailers, however, rarely stop to think that there are many more retailers similar to them in the exact-same-boat – striving to build and grow their businesses, on their own, against masses of competition.

As retailers, we are so busy working in the business, we rarely stop to consider all the potential mutually beneficial partnerships that can be created which can not only bring in more customers but also create lasting positive relationships in the appliance industry?

Creating multiple strategic partnerships is an important element of long term success in any business. It is especially important as online sales begin to grow even more with cheaper appliances available through various online stores. As mentioned at Australia’s Retail Leaders Forum last week in Sydney, the next five years will see the most amount of change in retail compared to the last fifty years. This is being driven by both consumer behaviour and technology changes.

As we embrace this change across all retail industries in Australia, those who actively seek and form strategic partnerships will be best placed in growing with Australia’s economic growth over the next few years. Whether this growth comes from foot traffic or referred sales, no one really minds, as long as they make a purchase and begin or continue the relationship with your business.

The most important keys to creating strategic partnerships that can help your appliance retail business (and theirs) to thrive, come down to these three essential steps

1. Identify complementary businesses

Determine who shares the same target market as yours and whose products and services complement yours rather than compete with yours.

So, if you’re a retailer selling consumer electronics for various brands targeting the male consumer (say, The Shaver Shop), you could partner with neighbouring retailers including cafes, food outlets, men’s fashion retailers, local business magazines, local publications, et cetera.

2. Develop a compelling reason

Once you have a large list of businesses with a similar audience and a complementary product or service, think of why they would get into business with you?

So, lead with what you can give the other business. How can you benefit their business? How can you help them? What are all the great reasons why working together with you will benefit their business?

You can send clients to their business, you can share your list with them, you can help promote their brand. Ensure it is a win-win scenario. I’ll share mine, if you share yours.

3. Develop a compelling offer

What are all the physical products and services you can give in exchange for access to their list. By list, we mean access to their list of customers — getting in front of their customers — whether that be via email, phone, print or in-store.

You could pay a revenue share in exchange for their promotion (affiliate), you could give free trials to your product or service, you could do a giveaway, something for free, the options are endless.

So, in the case of the consumer electronics for males, two example offers could include 10 per cent off for the local cafe patrons or free accessories when they purchase a main electronic product for the men’s fashion retailer. Or if they have an online list or newsletter, you could get in front of those potential customers by offering a giveaway or promotion or something small and free.

Relationships Count!

Start a relationship with your prospects and plan for long term. One positive relationship can exponentially affect your business in a positive way.

Partner with as many local retailers as possible. As you begin to grow, you can begin to partner with online retailers, businesses and promoters to expand your reach even further. Remember to think of yourself as part of a team of service providers rather than you against the world.

Aaron Blackman is the CEO and founder of Retail Express, a cloud-based retail management system.