Despite the immediate convenience of online shopping, the bricks and mortar retail industry is standing strong against the competition. By understanding where they stand in the market, retailers can create effective and informed strategies to keep footfall as high as possible. As the industry is ever changing, this is what they can expect over the coming year.
Use the experience
While physical retailers may not be able to compete with the immediacy of ‘buy now’ buttons from e-commerce, they can win over their customer base with a top-quality shopping experience. To take advantage of this, start off by exploring the brand’s strength. Do you have a strong brand identity or an approach and ethic that resonate well with your customers? Identify what this is and try to centre the in-store experiences around it.
It is important to create a community around your products and business so that you can make meaningful connections with your shoppers.
Customers’ shopping habits are constantly influenced by external factors such as the political climate and general industry trends like seasonal needs.
In recent years, ethics has played a large part in how customers’ shop. Many people are now rejecting the idea of ‘fast fashion’ and are looking for more sustainable ways of shopping. High street retailers can take advantage of this movement by making sustainability part of their efforts through the in-store experience and campaigns. Retailers should be thinking about offering paper bags or long-lasting totes and asking customers if they would prefer their receipt sent to them via email.
It is important to make the most of opportunities, but you’ll need to be strategic and ensure the ones you choose fit in with your consumer’s shopping habits.
To start, retailers should look into industry insights to gain an understanding of their audience and what they react well to. Opportunities can include national events such as the Eurovision or festivals season as well as daily changes like the weather. Rainy bank holidays may work wonders for retailers as customer seek refuge inside shopping malls, while a sunny Easter break can do the opposite as we have seen earlier this year.
It is important for retailers to identify the opportunities that work well with their short, medium and long-term objectives while making the most of assets such as Salesforce. Some retailers are also experimenting with AI to enhance their in-store experiences to create a more personalised approach for each shopper. One example is interactive mirrors in clothes stores that show customers what a product looks like on them without having to try it on.
The future of retail
Last year may have seen the struggles of many large retailers, but it also saw the rise of others as they turned their focus on the customer’s needs. This year, that looks to continue, as retailers invest in personalised experiences, combined with AI and a sense of community. Customers want to feel like they are being listened to and spoken to personally by the brand, and the retailers that manage this will be the ones who flourish.
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