Experts' CornerNews and Events

Raise the Bar to Compete in Retail at a Higher Level

Retailing changes at a rapid pace and constantly takes unexpected turns. The transformation is only going to quicken, so be ready for an exciting ride. The next few years will abound with new opportunities related to technology, e-commerce, digital marketing, and product innovations. Ideas that were concepts on the drawing board two years ago are now at the forefront of change. It’s critical to take a deep dive into promoting your business. Analyzing the big picture to figure out what is working or what needs to change can help the company become an even stronger competitor in your market. Before you develop an acquisition strategy for purchasing products or finalize an annual marketing plan, it’s essential to understand what customers want and the trends that are impacting retail.

Automated Inventory Management Ramps Up
Tracking inventory is critical to the success of every business, especially one with a robust e-commerce operation. Smart robotics are tracking and processing inventory in real-time speeds. Currently, many activities performed manually by humans are being impacted. Computerized systems can manage the process from the point when products are inventoried, shipped, or purchased by the consumer. Computer-generated data can be acted upon quickly and makes the overall business operate smoothly and efficiently.

Private Label Brands Grow in Popularity 
Retailers sell and promote private label brands because they are available from wholesalers at a substantially lower cost than brand-name products. They also contribute more to the bottom line due to their higher mark-up. In the past, consumers viewed private label products as being low-end and less desirable than their brand-name counterparts. That attitude has now changed considerably. Today’s shopper is less loyal to brands and places greater importance on high quality and affordable price. Home improvement retailers have a real opportunity to promote the private label brands they currently sell.

Creating Community Builds Relationships
Building Community doesn’t require a lot of money. There are hardware stores around the country that are famous because they understand how to build strong relationships with their customers. In turn, these customers become brand ambassadors who tell people in the community and across the country about the business’s excellent staff and the exceptional service they consistently receive. Giving customers a sense of belonging is of vital importance in a world where people are feeling more and more isolated by technology. When customers feel special, they are more loyal to the business. Ultimately, this translates into sales and more exposure to your brand. 

Getting Personal with E-mail
When it comes to e-mails, highly personalized e-mails generate significantly more revenue. Research indicates that adding some form of personalization is better than none. Typical, personalization can include a first name in the subject line, a standard greeting in the body of the e-mail, and a recent purchase. However, customers expect even more. Campaigns that speak to the customer and address their unique needs will be far more successful than those that take a one message fits all approach.

Digital Advertising Engages Consumers
The increasing use of mobile devices to engage social media and purchase products has made online advertising a priority for businesses and brands who want to target specific customers and customize their messages. When done effectively, customers should perceive digital ads as being a natural part of the user experience without being intrusive. Digital ads offer a wide range of options to brands and businesses. They can be the right solution for small business owners who want a cost-effective means to promote products, services, and events to their customers.

Home improvement retailers can always learn something from the success and failures of big box competitors who dominate the retail industry. Eighteen years ago, Amazon was an online bookseller. Today, the e-commerce giant is the biggest retailer in the U.S. and continues to diversify into sectors that were once beyond its scope. On the other hand, Sears, a once-legendary brand, is now a saga in retail history. How companies manage change determines their prospects for a prosperous future. Accept that it’s a new day in retail and that customers are always evolving. Try new ideas and feel confident that you have the tools to compete and win.

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