Get in on the Secret
Every day comes with announcements of another retailer in trouble… bankruptcy, store closings, executive changes, and more. It can get depressing for those working in the retail world. But if you look closely, weaved into those cautionary tales there are some successes, believe it or not. Many companies are opening more stores, e-commerce companies are opening brick and mortar locations and stores are celebrating successful holiday sales. So, what gives? What is it that the successful retailers are doing and how can we get in on the secret?
Looking at the list of thriving retailers, there are some glaring commonalities.
Retailers are realizing that eCommerce and Brick and Mortar need to walk hand and hand as opposed to in competition with one another. Both Best Buy and Home Depot have found success by integrating their online and store presence using things like a mobile app and offering more items on their e-commerce sites. Shoppers aren’t only browsing by walking around stores anymore, they are browsing on their phones, computers, tablets, in the store, on blogs, and social platforms. Retailers need to adapt and incorporate each of these methods.
It also means once you have these methods in place, gathering information about what your customers want and need and then tailoring your business around that information. Are your customers purchasing more online or in-store? Do they use the app or the website? While it is important to have multiple ways to buy, knowing what your customers want is the key.
2. Making Customer Experience a Top Priority/ In-Store Experience
If you’re taking the time to go to a physical store these days, you want to have a good experience while you’re there. The days of walking into a store, like a specialty retail store, to just grab an item and leave, are over. Customers want that memorable experience. Remember back in the day when going shopping was an all-day excursion? Now, many stores are channeling those days and using it to create notable in-store experiences.
One extreme example would be the American Girl stores. There aren’t many, but the ones that exist are doing it right. The store doesn’t just sell dolls and clothes; they have a restaurant inside where you can have tea and brunch with your dolls. They have spas for the dolls, a “hospital” where they will repair your doll if needed, and they each have a museum section that displays the original American Girl dolls. You could easily spend hours in there and if you’ve been in one, you know the lines to purchase dolls and accessories are usually wrapped around the store. Even though these dolls first became popular 2 decades ago, the brand is continuously updating their products and store experiences to stay relevant with the latest trends, needs, and wants of their customer base. This may be an extreme example, but it showcases how much they care for the consumer, and how you can up your profit by putting in the effort.
3. Eliminate Hassel
People are busy, right? Isn’t that always what people say when you ask, “How are you?” “I’m good. Busy.” So, by eliminating the hassle of shopping, you’re appealing to a large majority of people. Most people find it easier to browse online during their lunch break for the items they need and then stop on their way home from work to pick it up.
This is why BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In-Store) has become so popular. Most retailers are finding when the customer does come to pick up the purchased item, they end up walking into and around the store which leads to further purchases. It is a win-win all around. It also saves the person time from going into a store looking for a specific item only to find they don’t have the size, color, or another attribute that they need, which will ultimately lead to a disappointed customer.
BOPIS has become a major driver of sales at stores like Best Buy, which led 42% of their online sales.
Technology is everywhere you look. It’s unavoidable. Which is why some retailers are incorporating it into their store, to deliver a more seamless and enjoyable experience. If you look at a brand like Timberland, they’ve been adding more customer-centric technology to their stores since 2016. They allow for shoppers to use a tablet to get more information about products around the store and they use something called a “Tap Wall,” which displays certain highlighted items. By pressing the tablet against signage in the store, customers can get more information about the product and see any current deals or promotions.
Other technologies that are popping up in stores include virtual dressing rooms, size finders, virtual catalogs, automated check-outs, QR codes, and virtual wallets. Technology is something that is always going to be present and changing, and it’s up to business owners to incorporate it wherever they can to stay ahead.
5. Right Combination of Man and Machine for Supply
Even if you’re armed with the right resources, you must know how to use them to be successful. Some companies load up on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning and then sit back, expecting everything to work like a well-oiled machine. That’s not always going to work. Data is your most powerful tool and if you’re gathering it and then letting it sit, it’s not going to change anything. You need to be able to gather, interpret, and implement that data. Finding a provider that can fully explain their services and demonstrate how effective and beneficial they can be is key.