In May, retail sales fell (-0.3 percent) compared to expectations for a 0.1% increase, as customers cut back on spending amid growing price inflation, according to the Commerce Department last June. This year, retail sales have been one of the bright spots in the economy, but that may change.
The Great Recession brought about the change, which forced shoppers to change their spending habits. Retailers, in turn, had to find ways to cut costs and operate more efficiently to survive. Here are five challenges retailers face today and solutions to help them overcome these obstacles:
Maintaining your customer base
Customers now have many alternatives; therefore, brand loyalty has become far more common. It is a typical error to sell something without attempting to win back the client’s repeat business. Three strategies can be used to improve customer loyalty:
The first step is to focus on the customer experience you provide. Customers who have a great experience are more likely to come back. Next, you need to make it easy for customers to do business with you. This means providing a user-friendly website, easy checkout, and excellent customer service. Finally, you need to keep your customers informed about what’s going on with your company. This includes letting them know about new products, sales, and promotions.
Modern marketing in reaching out to customers
Reaching out to potential customers has always been a challenge for retailers, and it’s getting more difficult as the number of channels and devices grows. It’s not enough to advertise in newspapers or on TV anymore. Retailers need to be where their customers are, which means engaging them to a level of one-on-one engagement that develops a more personal relationship to build trust.
A telesales or telemarketing outsourcing service can provide your retail business with the ability to reach a large number of potential customers through mass calling. Retailers often use this type of solution to promote sales, coupons, or new product offerings. Outsourcing to a telemarketing agency allows you to scale up or down your outreach efforts without hiring additional staff. They can also help you collect customer feedback, which is essential for any business but especially important for retailers who constantly adapt to changing customer needs and preferences.
Effective internal communication is essential for any business, but it’s crucial for retailers. Retail businesses are often complex organizations with different departments, locations, and employees. If communication breaks down, it can have a ripple effect that affects the whole organization.
Many possibilities exist for streamlining internal communication processes in retail. The worst blunder is to attempt to use out-of-date techniques like Yahoo Mail or Outlook. Some communication solutions for retail businesses include:
- Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to enhance and integrate business processes
- Point-of-sale (POS) systems to track inventory and sales
- Customer relationship management (CRM) software to manage customer data
As the world becomes more digital, so does marketing. Retailers need to find ways to reach their customers where they are spending most of their time: online. But digital marketing can be complex and expensive, so many retailers don’t know where to start.
An excellent place to start is with a website. Every retailer should have a website optimized for search engines and mobile devices. Retailers also need to ensure their website is secure and that their checkout process is easy to use.
In addition to a website, retailers need to be active on social media. Social media is a great way to connect with customers and create a connection with the brand. Retailers should post content that is interesting and relevant to their customers, and they should respond quickly to any questions or concerns.
Seamless customer experience
A seamless customer experience is essential for any business, but it’s significant for retailers. That’s because the customer’s journey doesn’t end when they leave the store. Customers expect a seamless experience that includes everything from purchase to delivery to customer service. To create a seamless customer experience, retailers need to focus on these three things:
- Omnichannel commerce is the ability to sell products and services through multiple channels, such as brick-and-mortar stores, online stores, mobile apps, and social media.
- Personalization is the ability to tailor the customer experience to the individual customer. Retailers need to collect data about their customers and use that data to personalize the shopping experience.
- Convenience makes it easy for customers to shop when, where, and how. Retailers must offer convenient payment options, such as buying online, picking up in-store (BOPIS), and shipping to store (S2S). They also must provide convenient delivery options, such as same-day delivery, in-store pickup, and ship-to-home (S2H).
All in all
The retail industry is facing various challenges, from the growth of e-commerce to changing consumer behavior. However, many solutions can help retailers thrive in this new retail landscape. By adopting these and other strategies, retailers can stay ahead of the curve and remain successful in the years to come.