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Four Critical Challenges Facing Retailers

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Retail has been going through dramatic changes since E-commerce and Amazon have burst onto the scene. Retailers like Toys R Us, Radio Shack, and Payless have filed for bankruptcy this year, and many other chains are shrinking their numbers of stores. Retailers have to face these new changes and adapt to survive or risk being left behind. These critical issues for retailers include attracting and retaining customers, multichannel marketing and shopping, the shifting role of physical storefronts, and utilizing technology in your supply chain.

With the rise of the Internet and Social Media, today’s customer is more informed than ever. Customers carry around access to reviews, product details, and price comparisons with their smartphones, and possess the ability with Social Media to spread negative or positive impressions of your product and brand. Knowing this, retailers have to find out what their customers want and accordingly tailor their stores. These will generally fall into one of three areas for customers: the best value, service, or overall experience. It’s tougher and tougher to beat e-commerce on price alone, so retailers must find some combination of the three areas that inspires customer loyalty and positive word of mouth.

Retailers are getting more and more chances to reach customers and collect data from them. This makes it increasingly important for retailers to use this data to create targeted, relevant advertising campaigns and shopping experiences. Unfortunately, most customers have a low tolerance for mass mailing and unrelated “personalized offers” so retailers have a low margin for error. Technology such as Bluetooth and Beacons can help send personalized offers to shoppers when they enter a store, and even direct them to items in-store. Retails can also focus on making the shopping experience seamless between different channels since many shoppers are using multiple channels to make purchases. Many consumers showroom a product in-person but purchase online, or do the reverse by doing price comparisons online but purchasing in-person at a store. Retailers need to plan their stores around these behaviors as they are becoming more mainstream.

Decreasing sales and traffic means that some storefronts are no longer feasible. Experimentation in stores to find what best meets customer needs is necessary. This could include specialized stores, order-fulfillment options, customized services, and more. Some retailers are even changing their stores’ key performance metrics from sales and revenues to customer emails in an attempt to better measure customer acquisition. Changing the focus of stores from self-service to order-fulfillment also requires changes and improvements in retail supply chains. Online shopping and ordering is dependent on having up-to-date and accurate information about inventory levels. Technology like Near Field Communication (NFC) and Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) is emerging as a possible solution to help retailers obtain reliable inventory information for consumers. NFC and RFID can also add value by acting as theft prevention for retailers, help customers learn more about a product, or even pay without the checkout line.

Retailers have faced challenges and changes in the last few years, and will face even more in the near future with threats like AmazonGo, Amazon’s new cashierless grocery store. In order to keep up with the changes, retailers need to make sure they listen to their core customers as well as experiment, analyze, and optimize stores to best deliver value to the customer. Retailers should become proficient in technology like Customer Experience (CX), Customer Relationship Management software (CRM), RFID, and NFC as well as create an agile supply chain that can respond to shifting demand. Taking these steps and staying up-to-date on industry trends can help retailers not only survive but thrive with change. Reach out to learn more about how TechStak can help you find and hire the right tech pros to evolve your business.

Check out TechStak’s free CX Workbook to analyze and optimize your CX efforts! Also don’t forget to check out the 7 Tragic Fails of the Customer Experience. For more on CRM solutions and Marketing Automation, make sure to read our October interview with Marketing Expert Chad Ghastin.

About the Author, Sean Walsh

Sean is a Digital Marketing and Brand Communication Intern at TechStak. He has over four years of experience running and growing corporate social media platforms. Sean is a lifelong lover of the latest technology and gadgets. He attends the University of Michigan-Dearborn and will soon graduate with a Bachelor of Business Administration focused in Marketing.

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