As a business owner in the retail industry, you worst fears are realized every day. The constant shifts in the trends and business models of the industry have you at the edge of your seat.
If you aren’t on top of things, you may lose out to the hundreds of competitors who are at the ready to nab your customers. Even the mega retail chains aren’t safe from these changing demographics and economics. You hear about more and more stores closing but, all this isn’t doom and gloom.
When you take a closer look and add a little innovation to your business model, the constant evolution of the industry also presents you with an opportunity to invigorate your retail business and bring some much-needed attention towards it.
But how can you do all that?
There isn’t a simple formula for success here. Though, there are some interesting techniques that will help ease some of your fears and create a plan for the future of your business, so read on.
1. Market to Consumer
Until quite recently, marketing to a group of individuals via TV or radio was simple, you created a message that was effective and presented your products to your consumers. But today, due to increased consumer demands, that style of marketing has become obsolete.
Businesses in the retail industry need to engage their customers on a personal level. There are many avenues available to market your products in a personalized manner.
Another aspect of this personal approach of marketing is to persuade your existing customers to recommend your business to their peers.
Various retail industry statistics have proven that people are more likely to trust the advice of their peers than any promotional messages from a business.
First tip experts offer up is simple:
While Instagram is a heavy visual marketing medium, retailers don’t have to spend thousands on photo shoots to create Instagram content because best photos come from fans and the influencers who love your products and brand.
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2. Think Big, Go Small
Many business owners believe that the most important element in their retail business’s success will be the location and the scale of their store.
There are some obvious advantages of a glitzy store at a prime location, but with more consumers diverting their attention toward e-commerce, you would benefit more with opening a small store and creating a prominent web presence.
This approach will give you the flexibility of trying new ideas and techniques with your business without risking a lot.
The tips and insights:
In the Birchbox store, Beauchamp and Barna have sought to dismiss the traditional brick-and-mortar approach to beauty.
Instead of arranging products by brand, they chose to sort them by category, with entire sections of the shop dedicated to “Cheek” or “Lip” or “Brow.”
Beauchamp is blunt about the appeal: “The reality is that 95 percent of all beauty products sold are still purchased offline. That means we send a lot of our customers offline, to shop,” presumably at Birchbox competitors.
3. Offer an Experience
The amount of competition in the retail market demands that you create your own unique identity and separate yourself from the pack; your survival may depend on it.
Offer unique products to your customers, and if you aren’t able to do that, then offer customers regular products in a unique way. Offer them a service or a deal that no other retailer will provide them with.
It can be as simple as offering the customer the convenience of customizing their clothes in the store itself or offer customers a refreshing drink when they walk in.
The possibilities are only limited by your own imagination, basically, anything that can add value to the experience of the customers should be on the table.
You also have to think beyond the initial sale.
Create opportunities for cross-sales and purchases. Put the customers in a situation where they can be influenced to make more purchases from the store. From product placement to offering the right package of products, you have to create a purchasing experience that offers value to your customers and helps you increase your sales numbers.
Integration of both the online and offline platforms for this purpose can be fruitful.
4. Be more Selective
To endure in the retail industry, your business needs to progress with the evolving customer demands, and it isn’t just about the choice of products you offer to them.
Many big stores with a huge variety of products aren’t able to capture the attention of the consumers because that isn’t what they are looking for.
You have to offer them the products that they are looking for. Online search data can help in this regard. Compile this data and present your customers with the products that they are looking for.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to only sell your products online. Use the internet as a platform to market your products and notify the consumers where they can buy the products they are looking for, although, having an online retail store will present a more fluid shopping experience to customers.
The whole trick is to promote the products according to the customer type, give each consumer a personalized promotional message containing a product that s/he will be interested in.
5. Take Lessons
Taking inspirations from other industries can help you learn crucial survival lessons. Take the fashion industry for example; there are new trends and buying patterns in the fashion industry every season.
The businesses in the industry have learned to cope with their dynamic customer base and you can educate yourself by studying these businesses.
Usually, you will see a fashion store changing its layout and merchandise on a regular basis. This is because their customers expect the latest offerings in the store and the business owners oblige by providing exactly that.
In the retail industry, you can adopt a modified version of this technique by delivering products that fulfill the requirements of your customers. You will need some research data and in-depth analysis to discover exactly what those requirements are.
6. Be Hospitable
Shopping can be hectic for most people, so create a stress-free environment in your store. The customers should be able to come into your store and relax while they shop for the items they need. Encourage your sales staff to engage the customers in conversation, and it shouldn’t all be about the products and a sales pitch.
Don’t be just another generic store, break the mold and add something that will help your customers have a memorable shopping experience. Install an espresso machine in the store and offer your customers fresh espressos when they are shopping. The right gimmick can produce positive results for you in the sales department.
7. Build an Offline Community
Building relationships with customers online are more important than ever, but that does not mean that you should neglect the offline opportunities to build a strong customer base.
Organize regular events that attract the attention of your customer base. Have a Star Wars day at the store or hold a cycling rally, anything that your customers will be willing to take part into the fullest.
These kinds of promotional events will give you an opportunity to build a network of customers and the foot traffic will give your business an instant boost.
Referral rewards, discounts, sales events, freebies, etc, what do they all have in common? All these offers give your customers an extra incentive to come into your store and buy your products.
Retailers are coming up with new and inventive ways to provide incentives to their customers, if you haven’t created a plan for this, then you should get on it right now.
A little extra encouragement for customers is all that your business may need to edge out your competition. The extent of the incentive should be kept in check, don’t go overboard and suffer losses just to get people in the door.
9. Package the Prices
Many retail businesses make the mistake of lowering their prices to stay afloat, most of the time this strategy can backfire. When your prices are the lowest in the market, it gives the impression that your products are subpar in some way.
Keep the prices to what they are and offer value to customers in other ways. Reward them for their loyalty, introduce a purchase point system or provide free products with certain purchases.
You can maintain your reputation for providing quality products and still make shopping worth the customers’ while.
10. Use the Modern Tools
No matter how hard you try, you cannot avoid the internet and social media, if you want to succeed in the retail industry that is. You have to take advantage of the promotional and marketing opportunities that are available online.
There are many professional agencies that can help you create an online presence that will be favorable for your retail business. Online searches are the most common way for people to look for the products they want or need and if your business isn’t showing up in the results, then you are automatically losing out on a lot of potential sales.
Social media sites are a coalescence of promotional, marketing and engagement avenues. They are the perfect place to speak to customers directly and get people talking about your business and its products.
You can introduce new products, present special offers and create online activities to build up your brand name.
You get instant feedback from the customer through social media, which can help you fine tune your online promotional strategies and make them more effective.
All of the ‘survival’ techniques mentioned may look daunting when put together, but odds are that you won’t need all of them to gain an edge in the retail industry. Pick and choose the ones that you think are appropriate and formulate a strategy to utilize them and gain sustained success for years to come.