‘The Value of Collaboration’ looked at collaborating activities such as joint marketing campaigns, loyalty schemes, local events, and joint promotions and found that through them, small merchants can boost their sales by an average of up to £30,000 a year each - a potential £900m sales uplift nationally.
Nearly three quarters (73 per cent) of respondents said they are supporting each other in one way or another - discussing business challenges with peers, comparing performance or discussing the trading environment.
Value of recommendations
For hospitality businesses, collaboration can be as simple as recommending each other or lending some spare change, but it can make a real difference.
Pamela McKellar owner of The Ginger Dog in Brighton, told BigHospitality: “There’s a definite network of support and collaboration between our restaurant The Ginger Dog and other small merchants locally.
“This has built a sense of community between the business owners and helps to attract customers to the local area, with recommendations from other shop owners or merchants driving footfall for our restaurant.
“The local bed and breakfasts regularly suggest our restaurant to their guests. We also help and support local businesses by lending change or letting another bar or restaurant borrow a bottle of alcohol when stock levels run low.”
Saving on services
On a day-to-day basis, lending each other a helping hand can save independent businesses an average of £3,000 a year - or £75m nationally. This can include minding each other’s shops, taking in deliveries, doing a bank run or providing loose change; services that would normally be paid for.
Additionally, the report found that 59 per cent of small business owners know at least half of their fellow local traders and 23 per cent know almost all of them, and recommend each other to their customers.
Mark Roper, head of UK merchant services at American Express, said: “Whether it’s the local deli and off licence putting on a joint cheese and wine night, or an entire high street running a seasonal promotion, small merchants across the UK are clubbing together to improve their collective lot. It makes strong business sense, delivering tangible returns in terms of boosted sales and saved labour costs and it is a trend that is increasing. One in six respondents said they plan to collaborate more in the next year or so.”