Lately there has been an avalanche of headlines online declaring that the end is nigh for retailers. Some have even dubbed the supposedly inevitable event “The Retailpocalypse”. Why then do physical retailers still account for 85% of all purchases globally?
Physical retail is not going anywhere, but online shopping and purchases are growing very quickly. So what does the future hold? A hybrid experience for consumers, where physical retailers will need to integrate many of the aspects of online shopping into their retail strategy, is about to unfold. Learn how to boost retail sales using these 5 easy methods.
Physical retailers still offer consumers many advantages that are missing from the online purchasing experience. These advantages, such as instant gratification and the ability to experience the product in person, are more than enough to keep brick-and-mortar stores in the game for the time being. However, it will be the decisions retailers make in the near future, will determine which companies evolve and thrive, and which stagnate and disappear.
1. Customer Opt-in and Data Collection
The ability to personalize the shopping experience for each customer, based on information that they have voluntarily given. What was a dream to managers and salespeople only 15 years ago is a fantastic reality today with the widespread adoption of social media and mobile devices. It is second nature for consumers to sign up for an account and give retailers their email address, name, sometimes even phone number and more. Businesses are using cookie tracking software and customer surveys to determine what exactly each customer wants to see in store, and their retail sales have risen as a result.
The important thing to keep in mind when your retail strategy uses data collection is that everything collected should be voluntary. Make it known to consumers that you want to improve their shopping experience and craft an engaging experience which allows them to volunteer preferences.
For example, if a clothing retailer wants to gather customer opinion on a new line of t-shirts or jeans, they may want to offer a virtual showroom of the offering, either on their own site or on a social media site such as Pinterest. This stage of the data collection process should be especially personalized, as customers will be far more likely to offer up their personal information and preferences when they think that their opinion carries weight and is being seriously considered by a company. An additional benefit to this strategy? When that consumer sees a product hanging on the rack, and remembers how they voted for, liked, or shared it online, they will have an emotional connection to it, and be more inclined to purchase.
2. Eliminate OOS Problems
Out of stock issues are like a never-ending plague for retailers big and small. They are a constant drain on sales, can be difficult to quickly detect, and leave a bad taste in loyal customers’ mouths. Consumers looking for a specific product can be quick to switch to a competitor if brand loyalty isn’t high, and after they’ve left a brand, it can be extremely difficult to get consumers back.
What’s the cause of OOS? Often it’s just restocking issues. Store employees who are restocking the shelves may knock over a SKU and then the merchandiser won’t realize that the product is out of stock. Another culprit of OOS is bad field management software for merchandising reps. Representatives restocking multiple products need the capability to see individual client history and review past purchase orders. If there should be a product on the shelf and it’s nowhere to be found, merchandisers can address the problem then and there. Conversely, field reps who are not equipped with the proper field management software may overlook OOS instances for weeks or even months, missing out on a huge amount of sales.
3. In-store Pickup and Delivery
Omnichannel retail is currently a huge talking point for merchandisers, marketers, salespeople, and anyone else involved in the retail industry. Being able to offer customers a shopping experience through whichever channel they choose gives retailers a massive advantage over their competition in an era of retail where convenience is king.
While the goal of an omnichannel retail strategy is to increase sales across the board, in-store pickup and delivery will drive sales for retail locations in particular. For consumers who are looking to take advantage of certain online promotions, avoid shipping costs for larger items, or need the product as soon as possible, in-store pickup and delivery is a welcome addition.
4. Psychological Merchandising
Whether we realize it or not, we are all subject to subtle psychological influencers every day. Retailers and marketers have spent millions of dollars and years of research time discovering exactly how consumers think and act in a given situation, and how they can be influenced to purchase in a certain manner.
Need an example?
Next time you’re in the grocery store pay close attention to where the eggs and milk are located in comparison to the bread. Chances are they’re not very close together. Why? These foods ae all considered staples, and supermarkets strategically place them with the hope of stimulating sales of products in other aisles. This is the reason many supermarkets have dairy and produce located on opposite ends of the store, and is just one example of using psychological marketing to influence the consumer.
5. Increased Employee Mobility
Employees who are stocking shelves, performing market research in the field, or creating purchase orders need a convenient way to clearly communicate with management and share accurate data quickly. Field management software is a fantastic way for managers to monitor employees in the field and for reps to customize their forms for each individual client.
Field reps should be equipped with a mobile device (either a smartphone or tablet) which can replace the clipboard and paperwork that was a staple of mobile employees in the past. Not only do digital forms offer an easily customizable alternative to traditional forms, but they are generally more economically and ecologically friendly.
The word of retail is constantly changing. Understanding what consumers want is the logical first step towards offering them a purchasing experience and product that they want. Adapting your retail strategy to mesh well with the consumer lifestyle is more effective than expecting customer to happily adopt whatever system you design. Keep the customer, recent technological developments, and your employees in mind at all time, and retail success is sure to follow.