You’ve undoubtedly heard that it’s a good thing to think outside the box. But what exactly does that mean, and how can it save your business the test of time?
In layman’s terms, thinking outside the box simply means to be innovative. Managing to think differently to your counterparts will ensure that you and your business stay ahead of the curve. As a
retailer, here’s why you need to think outside the box and how it can help you stay ahead of your competition
Technology has already transformed the retail industry beyond recognition – now, almost every customer is an online customer, from your teenage child to your aging parents. The end-to-end customer journey now includes online research and product comparison, and complaining about a product or service is as easy and public as sending a tweet or Facebook comment, prompting immediate action before reputational damage occurs. Where once businesses compete on price and availability, they now compete for search engine rankings and five-star customer reviews.
Increased Customer Expectation
The latest figures from Ovum’s global research into omni-channel customer engagement show businesses appear to be going backward in meeting customer expectations, despite efforts to move forward.
What is required is a massive cultural shift to center the organization on the customer and to deliver relevance throughout every customer journey. That requires more than the 360-degree transactional view of the customer; it demands contextual intelligence to really understand what customers are trying to achieve and the ability to support them every step of the way.
The threat from online competitors is leading more traditional retailers to consider embracing even seemingly outlandish technologies. This has now become a compulsion rather than a decision. If retailers don’t change with the times then they will be left behind and become outdated. Tradition offline retailers like mom and pop stores who haven’t thus far made the transition online must now explore the option. Competition in the enterprise-class retail software field is growing constantly and if you refuse to adapt, you will be left behind.
Lack of Brand Loyalty
In today’s day and age, a customer is only as loyal to a brand as his last experience. Globalization has reduced the barriers of entry to most industries and retailers are now competing on an international stage.
The retail industry looks primed to have a decade full of innovation and creativity while striving to create a seamless shopping experience. Increased footfall and brand recall will remain the goal but the methods used to achieve this are set to change over the next decade. Retail Intelligence, like the Internet of Things, is a technology that will have a huge say in where the retail world is headed with smart shelves, digital signage, video cameras and beacons providing access to huge amounts of new data on customer activity.
Retail Intelligence is the set of tools and applications focused on the creation and management of knowledge through the recollection, processing, interaction, and analysis of information generated in all operations performed by any retailer.
Benefits of retail intelligence
With the help of the latest technologies, we can gain a better understanding of shoppers’ buying habits like where they are going, what they are purchasing, their purchase history etc. Retail Intelligence provides opportunities for sophisticated insights and immersive customer engagement. Using retail intelligence, retailers can be provided with answers for the below questions:
- Is our sales being lost due to poor staff-to-customer ratios?
- What percentage of visitors are leaving stores and shopping centers without purchase?
- How many visitors are first-timers, and how many are repeat/loyal customers?
The two biggest technologies in an era witnessing a transformation in the domain of retail intelligence so that retailers can achieve the desired results and boost their business every year are:
- Artificial Intelligence
- Deep learning
Artificial Intelligence in retail
A powerful new digital technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI learns from data and enables complex processes to be automated independent of human intervention making them faster, more efficient and less prone to errors. With an ability to identify patterns and detect anomalies in digital information studying new insights and possibilities, AI is transforming many industries in the business world by automating manual tasks.
Deep Learning in retail
Retailers are making use of deep learning to analyze data from both, in-store and digital, through sensor and video analysis. In this way, they are now enabled to deliver a more enhanced and customized customer experience as well as integrating brick and mortar activities into the digital world. Consumer expectations are transforming the retail landscape but as your consumer lives more of their lives in the online world, how can you make sure your brand stands out?
Now when consumers are looking for that perfect item you can use technologies like AI and deep learning to speak directly to them pushing personalized offers based on their preferences to get them in the store. Mobile and GPS enabled environments to create an engaging experience that actually helps shoppers find what they’re looking for and gives them a reason to purchase. Today’s consumers expect more from a physical environment and captivating technologies like immersive mirrors can go a long way with such tech-savvy and technologically intelligent consumers.
Pop-up stores have been around for the best part of a decade now. Initially, they were used by restaurants at festivals but the industry has come a long way since then and nowadays all kinds of business merchants use the pop-up store model to gain brand awareness
What is a Pop-Up Store?
A Pop-Up store, also known as flash retailing, is a temporary use of a physical space by a retailer to communicate about their brand promise to potential customers. Usually, this is done by offering customers a taste of the full retail experience that the store normally offers.
How does it Work?
The pop-up store is a flexible model and has scope for experimentation. Merchants can tie-up with large retailers and set up a pop-up store offering a sample of their product at a discounted price or maybe even free. Usually, merchants do this by renting a vacant storefront for just a short period of time.
They may choose to have a booth at a craft fair, farmers market or another event. It is also common to rent a vacant storefront for just a short period of time.
The net spends on brand activation for pop-up stores in the U.S. was worth nearly $600 million in 2016, according to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), topping $740 million by 2020.
What’s more, Pop-up stores offer an opportunity for retailers to connect with an audience that may reside in a different location to the main business. These retailers rely on brand recall and need to make a significant impression on the customers that they interact with.
The two biggest benefits of starting a pop-up store are:
- Helps in spreading Brand Awareness
- Helps in Market Testing
Digitally native brands who don’t otherwise have a brick and mortar store may use flash retailing to drive sales and increase brand awareness. Retailers use social media to create a buzz around a particular pop-up store so that they can maximize traction and visibility. Influencer marketing plays a big part in pulling the right audience. Retailers reach out to social media influencers who in turn do a brand shout out. Followers base their buying decisions on these influencers. Brands are aware that if they can make their customers experience a positive one, they retain the customer through their online presence.
Test the Market
Pop-up shops help retailers to enrich and improve your brand. An example of this would be pricing and merchandising testing. This is integral to the longevity of the business as owners want to know how customers are responding to price points. There is no better way to do this than to hear it directly from your customers.
Pop-up stores have become a lethal weapon in the marketing armory for retailers and merchants alike and if a positive approach is taken to experiment with it retailers can significantly increase their footfall. Space is becoming more and more expensive, pop-up stores provide a healthy alternative to long leases. While the concern remains that having one location as a permanent address for business enables customer loyalty, people have realized that this one location can be an online presence and not necessarily a physical store.
As the festive season slowly draws to a close, we take a look at how retailers can become market leaders this New Year.
Whether you have a brick and mortar store or an online e-commerce platform, the onus of beating competition lies with you as a retailer. Below are a few points to be aware of as we move into 2020.
Customer service standards are rising every day and only those retailers who are willing to get innovative will stand the test of time. The most agile retailers will survive and boom.
The retail market has been fragmented for a long time but it is now heading to a more consolidated model. Large retailers like Amazon and Alibaba will gain a larger share of the market, thus making it very difficult for smaller retailers to compete.
Data exploitation is changing the way we do business and gives retailers an opportunity to reinvent themselves. Using AI, retailers can personalize the retail shopping experience by only showing products relevant to the audience. Deriving insightful information from the data collected from various digital marketing campaigns and platforms and using them for selective remarketing will increase relevant traction while reducing lead generation costs. Exploiting this readily available data in a smart and efficient way can be an important step towards beating the competition
Digitally native brands already have an omni-channel setup ensuring a seamless transition for customers. However, brands that were around from the pre-digital era need to ensure that they’re omni-channel or risk experiencing a drop in footfall. Being an omni-channel brand is now mandatory for most retailers.
Artificial Intelligence can now be used to customize consumer experiences. Subscription-based business models are picking up speed, especially in the Fashion Industry where customers have a monthly shipment of new clothing.
Same Day Delivery
Amazon was the first major player to launch same-day delivery with Amazon Prime. Having said that, not all retailers have the resources that Amazon does. Tying up with a local logistics company can help cut down the delivery time and ensure customer satisfaction.
In this ever-changing retail world, innovation and adaptation to the changing dynamics of the business will be the key aspects in determining who makes the grade in the next decade and who falls into the abyss.
People frequently visit consumer stores, fashion retail outlets, convenience stores, etc. But how often do we end our interaction with a retail associate with a thank you? This is the question that has catalyzed a movement to celebrate Retail Employees’ Day (RED).
It was created to thank and appreciate retail employees for their relentless efforts. It is an initiative directed not only at employers but at customers as well, to encourage them to show gratitude to retail associates across the country. Floor employees are the face of any business and they carry the brand image of the company a long way. As Mr. Sanjay Behl famously said “Over the years, Retail Employees’ Day has become synonymous with celebrating the spirit, passion and commitment of each one of you”. Companies and CEOs have began using RED to create employee-centric stories.
So what can a retailer do to ensure his employees are happy?
Business owners must ensure that their employees have a good work-life balance. The overall happiness of the employees will not only increase their productivity but also ensure that they greet customers with a smile. Reducing the overall stress of the employees is thus integral. Ensuring the POS & CRM Software being used is fast and efficient is the responsibility resting with the retailers. Introducing and implementing solutions like mobile Point-of-Sales (mPOS) will prevent long queues and create a better working environment for the employees and excelling shopping experience for customers.
But why do retail associates deserve their own day?
While the festive season is usually meant to be spent with your loved ones, retail associates have to work beyond the roster hours during the season. The festive season is when retail businesses are buzzing and earning most of their money. Thus, it is important that we take a day out of the calendar to celebrate and show our gratitude towards the backbone of the retail business, its employees and front-end retail associates.
RED in India
A concept ideated by Trust for Retailers & Retail Associates of India (TRRAIN), started with 20,000 people celebrating the day in India, in 2011. Now it is a maneuver that has grown to 800+ brands celebrating this day for a count of 6 million employees, across 72 malls and countries like India, Turkey, Philippines & UAE. In 2013, Retail Employees’ Day inspired Boyner Group in Turkey to celebrate the day with its 12000 employees leading the entire country to take up the celebrations in 2014. About 2 million people from the Turkey retail industry celebrated Retail Employees Day, making this simple idea a truly global phenomenon that year. With over millions of people celebrating it, this initiative by TRRAIN has seen tremendous success.
As that unmistakable divine aroma of rum-soaked dry fruits begins to fill every neighborhood a slow sense of realization dawns upon us that soon it will be Christmas.
The festive period is a great time for families to decorate the house, kids to show off their new toys and of course to spend time with your loved ones. For retailers, however, the busiest shopping season of the year is very much around the corner. Christmas preparation for retailers usually begins by early November. It is integral that retailers are fully aware of the latest trends in the retail industry as well as amongst shoppers to ensure that they don’t miss out during this important time.
So let’s take a look at some of these trends which retailers simply can’t afford to ignore this Christmas
- Influencer Marketing
There has been a trend amongst social media users to base their purchases on the tastes and likes of a certain popular figure that they aspire to be.
The impact of Influencer marketing is only going to grow and retailers who chose to ignore it stand to lose out in the long run.
So if you are new to influencer marketing, Christmas may be the perfect time to try to give it a shot
- Self-checkout Stores
No lines. No checkout,” it says on a wall inside Amazon Go, a convenience store that has no cashiers. Instead, you have to scan your phone to enter, and a web of cameras on the ceiling uses computer vision and sensor technology to detect when you take, or return, items from a shelf and electronically charge them to your account minutes after you leave.
Self-checkout stores not only save time for the customers but also reduce theft.
It thus seems like the next logical step for the retail industry.
- Omni-channel Integration
Retailers must work towards providing their clients with integrated customer experience. Regardless of whether the customer is shopping at a Brick & Mortar Store or Online, the transition should be seamless. Christmas season does not necessarily mean that people will flock to Brick & Mortar stores to make their purchases. A large percentage of purchases will be online and retailers must be able to provide a seamless customer experience.
- Subscription-Based Services
A new type of business model is taking the western retail market by storm. The model is based on people purchasing a subscription for the service of a product rather than making an outright purchase. For example, consumers are purchasing a monthly subscription of formal clothing to wear to work. The customers then get a new set of clothes every month. This could be one of the biggest retail trends going into the new year and retailers must be ready to embrace this change.