Retail survival of the fittest

February 25, 2016 | Store Operations

Convenience and customisation with the help of technology. This is the main message in the guide “Retail survival of the fittest,” written by retail expert Francesca Nicasio. In seven chapters, she guides you through the main areas you need to work on in order to survive in the modern world of retail.

1. Recognizing that retail isn’t what it used to be

The most important thing to always be aware of for retailers today is to adapt their offers so that they find a home in all shopping channels. But although the number of channels for consumers have exploded, the physical stores are still important. 90 percent of all retail sales are done in stores and 95 percent of all retail sales are captured by retailers with a brick-and-mortar presence, according to A.T. Kearney’s Omnichannel Shopping Preferences Study.

2. Running an omnichannel store

The modern consumers use a variety of channels to shop. They might do their research on one channel and do the actual purchase in another. Retailers need to be present through the whole journey. Nicasio says: “You should be there for your customers no matter where they are or what device they’re using, and you should provide an excellent experience as your shoppers switch from one channel to the next.”

3. Taking the guesswork out of retail

Tracking customer data has been done from the beginning for e-commerce but it can also be used for brick-and-mortar analytics. Using customer data, you can now get to know customers in a way you were never able to do before. You can predict behaviour and customise offers, making the products more attractive and accessible. The most common solution is to track mobiles connected to Wi-Fi to sensors in the store. The sensors can for example tell what items your customers are looking at, how long they wait at the checkout, and if they are repeat customers. Of course, the technology needs be used carefully, making sure the integrity of individual persons is not compromised.

4. Increasing profits the modern way

Technology has given retailers extremely valuable tools to cut cost and make the business more profitable by streamlining and automate various retail tasks. Data can help you with your strategy and business plans, predicting the numbers on a whole other level than before. “Any business that wants to compete in the modern retail realm must learn to take advantage of these tools and use them to craft better, more profitable strategies”, Nicasio writes.
5. Using mobile to drive in-store traffic
Customers use their smartphones to guide them in their shopping and purchasing – more than ever before. Therefore, retailers who want to be successful need to work on establishing a relationship with their customers on their mobiles. Nicasio’s advice is to get into the world of Search Engine Optimisation. You need to get on the major search engines, optimise your website for mobile use and partner with shopping apps.

6. Boosting customer loyalty

Studies show that repeat customers are the best type of customers. Marketing Metrics found that the probability of converting existing customers is 60 to 70 percent, compared to 5 to 20 percent for new customers. In addition, research has shown that repeat shoppers spend 33 percent more compared to new ones. The way to ensure you have repeat customers is by building loyalty. Nicasio’s advice is to modernise your loyalty programs – customers don’t want to carry around a card anymore. Like everything else in life, they want to be able to use their smartphone in their relationship with their favourite retailers. Get personal and creative with your offers. For example, give a personalised birthday offer or offer perks when they check in to the store.

7. Giving your customers an experience they won’t soon forget

It’s all about experience today. Give your customers something more than products in aisles when they come into your store. Make it worth their effort to physically go to you, instead of ordering online. You can for example hold events and employ people that are truly service-minded. As Nicasio puts it, your staff should be “likeable experts instead of salespeople”. Using technology, you can also personalise a customer’s visit to your store by tailoring your services and recommendations based on their purchase history and shopping behaviour.

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