Five Ways To Be A Good Consumer When Shopping Small Business

Ever since the internet came out, I’ve been shopping online and dealing with small business. My mailman most likely thinks I have an issue because I get packages several times a week, and I prefer to shop online for most things. But if you aren’t familiar with shopping online and just started engaging with the wonderful practice, you may find some things confusing and frustrating. I get it, but I think it’s important that we take into account not dealing with huge corporate entities. Here are some tips to help you navigate the waters:

  1. Check the brand’s processing and shipping times – they are often longer. I have read some that indicate that most orders are processed within ten business days. Do you know how long ten business days feels when you have Amazon Prime?! SO long, but I mean hey, it is on their website clearly stated!
  2. Contact the brand before posting about them on social media. Make sure it’s their preferred method as well – for instance, don’t send them a DM on Instagram when they clearly state to use their customer service email. Over the years, many women have contacted me on my page to complain about brands, usually due to shipping times or product quality. However, they do this before even reaching out to customer service! I always tell them to contact the brand directly and their situation is almost always resolved in a timely manner.
  3. Read the fine print – make sure you can return the product if you think it’s a possibility that it won’t work for you. A lot of small brands do not offer returns unless the product is damaged. It’s not bad customer service, they simply don’t have the revenue to eat the cost of returns for every little thing. Once I returned a lipstick to Ulta because when I got home and swatched it, I realized that I already owned it. This was totally my fault, and yet, Ulta let me return it. I would never ask a small brand to do the same thing.
  4. Don’t make crazy requests just because you know the products aren’t mass produced. Like, don’t ask for a custom scent if that option isn’t offered or ask them to omit an ingredient that you’re allergic to. I know that it stinks when you think it’s a small tweak, but they need to create a consistent product that they can tie to their brand – it’s not about your individual needs.
  5. Get over yourself. Yea, I said it. A lot of people look for small brands and act as if they are the *only* customer that matters. They want this shade, this formula, this branding, this sale, etc. And while I’m not advocating a brand brushing off ANY customers or ignoring you, there are so many things that go on behind the scenes with brands regarding their analytics and processes that we will never be privy to. When some people think of small business, they almost consider the brand to be their peer, especially when the owner is accessible. At the end of the day, they are still a brand and a business, not your personal supplier. Be reasonable in all aspects.

Dealing with small businesses can be a great experience when you set your expectations. There are only a handful of brands that I have had issues with since the early 2000s, and I hope that continues.

What tips do you have for dealing with small businesses?