Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today. – Ernest Hemingway
In today’s economic climate, where retailers must embrace instant change to keep making sales, you can’t afford to make mistakes. It’s crucial to prepare your shop for the future of retail, so we have created a few key steps to get you on your way to future success.
Get a website and an online presence …
But don’t close your shop! Already today, 67% of customers interact with a company’s online presence pre- and post-sale*. This statistic is only going to rise. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to increase order values using the myriad of online tools available. Some benefits of having an ecommerce website along with your bricks-and-mortar store are:
- Customers can see your whole range in a neat and organised presentation
- Your store and your range is discoverable at any time, day or night.
- They can order when it suits them, not just within standard opening hours.
- Your address and contact details are available and shareable.
There are many social media tools used by retailers to connect with customers, but it is important to have your own website. You have no control over the future of any of these other tools, and you don’t want your whole online presence to disappear overnight!
As ‘smart’ things continue shrinking, ensure that your website is responsive to whatever device it is being viewed on.
Have deep knowledge about the lifestyle you are selling
In the past, and even today, the retailer bought wholesale goods and sold them individually to end-users. That’s all changing. Anyone can buy anything they like on the internet. They can often source things direct from the manufacturer and almost always at a cheaper price than a retailer on the street will sell it. What you, the retailer, will still have to your advantage is knowledge. Sure, product information is available on the internet too, but that’s only half the story. You will become the connection between the product and consumer, and people will trust you to figure out if that product fits their lifestyle.
This means consumers will start to look for intelligent, articulate retailers who ‘get’ their lifestyle. And where are they going to look? That’s right, the internet! You need to put what you know about your products out there, so you are known as an expert. Tell the product’s back-story, their design, their manufacture and who already uses it. Sell the lifestyle, rather than individual products.
Your operating methods need to be more efficient and effective
The keyword for the future of business management is Automation. It is already possible to automate payrolls, invoicing, payments and data entry, but the future possibilities are limitless. Implement as much as you can now, to prepare. By putting repetitive activities on autopilot, you reduce the time and expense in running your business.
Go through all the tasks that you and your employees complete day-to-day, and see if you can automate them. Take note of repetitive time-sapping activities, and then look for solutions that can do it for you.
You will free up time for you and your staff to devote energy to implementing new ideas and helping customers. You may even be able to reduce staff without compromising the customer experience.
Automate your marketing and sales processes as well. Something as simple as a customer counter to see when your peak days are will pay off remarkably well. You can then schedule staffing accordingly, improving customer relations at the same time.
To get the most out of all the technology available to you now and in the future, measure the profitability of your operations. Find out where the ‘leaks’ are now, because you can’t afford to continue losing money on them in the future.
Interactivity will become normal instore
One-size-fits-all offers will not be enough to engage customers in the future. To get their attention—and their business—you will need to give them personalized shopping experiences.
Do this by gathering data and managing customer relationships. Collect information on customer behaviour; take note of what and how much they bought. Use the information to tailor offers, recommendations, and interactions.
This doesn’t mean that you need the most sci-fi technology in town. Simply use the information you have collected to get a deep understanding of your customers. They will appreciate your care and ability to personalise your offerings to them.
Hold events. This will become a very common strategy of retailers in the future. If you fail to hold events in the future customers will overlook you. They are valuable, not only for getting customers in your doors, but also as a perfect opportunity to listen and gather data about customers.
One of the greatest differences between the retail store of the future and the past is that you will be curator, rather than just vendor. Your customer base has the potential to be almost infinitely intelligent, due to all the information available to them. Yet they will still prefer that you sort through this information and communicate what is relevant to them. This opportunity means that the products you sell and your knowledge is essential for success. As a curator, it is your job to choose a product range that can be tied to a certain lifestyle that is attractive to your customer base. A new way of retailing, for sure, but your store has a bright and exciting future!