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Reports of the Demise of the Corner Shop Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

You may have heard over and over that our beloved local retailers were nothing but doomed. Amazon was going to crush them. Then the coronavirus would shy everyone away. Soaring prices were sure to make them lose most customers to big supermarkets.

But the facts appear to have got in the way.

Evidence suggests the demise of the corner shop has been greatly exaggerated, successfully resisting massive retailers, a pandemic and the emergence of e-commerce.  

The corner shop plays a significant role in the fabric of society. It is the eyes and ears of the neighborhood, taking on the unofficial roles of a connector, a supporter, and even a carer; always there when we need and always looking to have essential products. 

The awareness of how important the small retailers are to emerging markets has been further emphasized by global consumer brands taking it upon themselves to make sure their business customer is supported not only through difficult times but also transitional times, especially that of digital transformation. At Yalo, we appreciate the importance of these relationships.

The corner shop in the best of health

Over the last 12 months, in particular, corner stores are demonstrating their unique, societal role as communities adapt to post-pandemic life; as daily life continues to be defined by anxiety and uncertainty, the corner shop represents a genuine zone of comfort for local neighborhoods.

This is why, in spite of the challenges that the pandemic has brought, there continues to be renewed optimism of small shop owners across emerging economies worldwide. The continued support and adoption of digital tools make this increasingly possible, a reality reflected with small and medium-sized businesses in Latin America experiencing a 43% increase in sales performance as a result of digital tools. A change that is believed to now take on a more permanent status.

The incredible resistance of the corner shop brings with it inspiration and desire to seek ways to increase its productivity. This in turn brings with it new opportunities for consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies to build and strengthen their business relationships, and relationships are what makes corner shops unique. 

The business of relationships

Corner shops play a key role in building and maintaining relationships with the communities they serve, which is why, at Yalo, we believe that strengthening relationships with corner shops businesses will be key for CPG brands; a relationship informed from listening and connecting with their customers. 

This is why, whatever technology, systems or protocols are implemented to connect the brand to the store manager, it is important that brands consider the same criteria that the former apply to their customers: do these systems bring me closer to my customer; how can my store (or brand) become a part of my customers’ everyday lives; how can my relationship extend beyond the transactional to something deeper and more lasting?

We believe the best conversational commerce technology enhances these values, rather than detracts from them.

Fishing where the fish are

This underpins our offering around messaging apps as a means to deepen the same with retailers.  Why?  Because messaging is the single most popular and used application on the mobile phone; everyone has it, and everyone uses it – corner shop owners included!

Of the top 5 most used and downloaded apps so far this year (2021), four are social messaging apps (the other is Facebook).  More than one-third of consumers worldwide said they check their phone within five minutes of waking up in the morning, and 20% check their phone more than 50 times a day, while the average Internet user checks their phone 58 times a day.

This is the basis and beauty of social commerce; engaging customers on their own terms, where and how they feel most comfortable – and for corner shop retailers, this means social messaging.

In short – rather than making them come to you, fish where the fish are.

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