By Emily Bamforth
Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Several Cleveland entrepreneurs share how storefronts can compete with — and even take advantage of — online commerce.
Online shopping giants like Amazon can alarm small business owners, making them worried their brick and mortar storefronts can’t compete.
But successful local Cleveland entrepreneurs like Mike Malley of Malley’s Chocolates think that shopping in-person still has an edge.
“We look at chocolate as a fun experience,” he said in a panel at JumpStart’s Startup Scaleup event Tuesday. “We like to enhance that experience.”
Startup Scaleup is a day of more than 35 workshops and panels to provide resources to Cleveland’s business community.
Malley sat beside Christie Murdoch, owner of local boutique Banyan Tree; Tammy Lyons, the owner of Inner Bliss yoga studios; and Waverly Willis, who owns Urban Kutz barbershops.
Amazon makes up 43 percent of all online sales, and one in four adults have Amazon Prime, according to Inc.
The Internet also presents challenges for services. With YouTube making online video easy to post and access, people can go to the site to learn how to do yoga by themselves and even cut their own hair.
“Thankfully, they’re not doing a very good job,” Willis said to laughter.
Here are some lessons the panelists shared on how storefronts can compete with — and even take advantage of — online commerce.
Make your store an experience
It goes all the way down to the smells and lighting in your business, Lyons said. She hopes that when someone enters a Inner Bliss studio, they feel a sense of calm and fellowship; she makes sure each customer is greeted.
Malley’s is considering adding more chocolate dipping stations to their stores and more information about cacao sourcing. Malley said in a Facebook Live interview with cleveland.com that a big plus for the business is their ice cream parlors, where people can go for family outings or first dates.