Survival in the retail industry
Retail is, and always has been, a progressive industry driven forward by competition. What works one day may not the next, which is why merchants need to stay abreast of trends and changes and evolve with the times. Merchants must always keep their goals in mind and make the adjustments that will help them more effectively serve their customers and accomplish objectives.
Listed below are just a few trends retailers have faced over the years and have needed to adjust to.
Manufacturers entering the retail space
In years past, the buying cycle involved a few different players: the manufacturer, which produced the good; the retailer, which sold the products and the customer, who purchased the items. In recent years, however, manufacturers have discovered they can improve their margins and customer relationships by simply cutting out the retailer and selling directly to buyers by creating their own online stores.
Retailers have had to make adjustments by not only offering fairer prices to manufacturers, but also giving them more value to encourage existing consumer connections. For instance, it is not unusual to see merchants offer manufacturers more information about customers, which allows product makers to iterate on their goods and plan better marketing campaigns.
The importance of always improving
New technologies and software are always being introduced to the market. So often, and so quickly, it becomes easy to become lost in a sea of solutions. Merchants know that implementing the right technology can greatly improve a myriad of operations, from supply chain efficiency and warehouse practices down to inventory management and customer service.
However, as RIS News reported, the key is understanding retailers’ own needs and implementing the right tools for the job. It is easy to overspend on unnecessary features or under spend to save money but then not have the appropriate technology needed. Technology can drive efficiency and overall operational improvement, but merchants need to know their needs and must be able to identify which technologies can help them achieve their end goals.
A more cohesive experience
Even looking at a single brick-and-mortar store, it can often feel as if merchants are not presenting shoppers with cohesive experiences. How many times have consumers been passed from associate to associate because each employee worked within a specific department and could not answer questions about products and services from other teams?
When multiple channels – online stores, marketplaces, physical stores, etc. – are added to the mix, it is easy for things to only get worse in terms of the customer experience. Convenience is a huge selling point for customers, and a disjointed shopping experience that prevents shoppers from getting the same service across all channels in a timely fashion can be frustrating.
A cohesive experience will only become more important with the introduction of mobile devices into the shopping experience. Many retailers set tablet devices up as kiosks within brick-and-mortar stores, allowing customers to order items and get them delivered to their homes – perfect to prevent a lost sale due to an item being out-of-stock. Of course, shoppers can also use their own devices, and pricing and online coupons can only further complicate the situation in store.
Retail is survival of the fittest, and if merchants want to avoid extinction, they need to do a better job of identifying trends and staying on top of them. This will help them react and respond in the ever-competitive retail industry.