The world of retail is ever-changing, and businesses need to make sure they’re as prepared as possible for the future. Here’s how you can achieve this.
Nothing stays the same forever, and nowhere is that clearer than in the retail industry. Online shopping has already made a significant impact in this area, forcing brick-and-mortar retailers to change tack in an effort to avoid being left behind. However, this is far from the end of the industry’s changing face.
One of the concerns for anyone in the retail sector at the moment should be future-proofing your business. You can’t predict with 100 per cent certainty what will happen in the industry over the next few years, but there are a few possibilities that look more likely than most. Retailers should look to these predictions in order to best prepare for the future of the sector:
sustaınabılıty wıll become more vıtal
While some still debate it, surveys show the overwhelming majority of people believe in human-caused climate change, and pressure is going to be on businesses to change their ways. This can be seen most clearly in the consumer-led push to get rid of single-use plastic straws, which has led to major businesses switching to recyclable paper options.
No matter what your business is, there will be a way you can be more sustainable. For example, luxury fashion company Elvis & Kresse recycle some of the ten million tonnes of fire hoses thrown away each year in London to create leather goods. Founder Kresse Wesling told Wired: “One tonne of leather costs £410 to bury in the ground.“Transform it into our system, and it will be worth a £100,000 product.”
update customers on stock ın real tıme
Integrating your online and digital stores is a must nowadays, as the internet is the place the vast majority of people go for their preliminary knowledge. In the future, when potential customers need an item, they’re likely to use voice search to ask their smartphone or other device where they can find it.
If that sounds far-fetched, people are already doing it with Google Home. As such, you should ensure when they do this, your store comes up. Integrating your inventory system with your online store will let you connect straight to consumers, making yourself a clear option when they ask where they can find the product they’re looking for.
utılıse devıces ın store
As shops become more of an experience and technology becomes more freely available, you should expect to see more digital devices in stores. You can already see this happening with brands like Sephora, which has an app that can provide customers with makeup recommendations by using their device’s camera.
Another example is Rebecca Minkoff, a designer brand that saw clothing sales triple after it installed tablets in the fitting rooms allowing customers to request items of clothing for staff members to bring to them. You might be surprised how much integrating tech into your business can help boost your custom. Customers are craving new experiences and the high street is primed for this, particularly in the UK. One study found that 61% of customers wanted retailers to use technology to make their experience more enjoyable.
fınd your nıche ın the customer journey
The role retailers play is evolving thanks to online shopping. If a customer wants a specific item, chances are they are going to order it from an ecommerce store rather than heading out to a physical location. However, stores still have a role to play in the customer journey, and by carving out a niche for yourself you can future-proof your business.
For example, the Oliver Wyman ‘Retail’s Revolution’ report suggests one of these could be as a “choice intermediary”, which sits at the very beginning of the customer journey. Businesses like this will focus on matching the right product to the right customer, based on their needs and wishes. This could be an excellent niche for your business to fill, and is worth experimenting with.
Other options could be through customisation in store. In 2018 Nike offered customers a chance to get hands on and fully customise their sneakers for less than £10! This unique experience in store really engaged with the niche 'sneakerhead’ community for very little investment from the brand.
Rather than trying to cater for everyone, Nike took the time to understand customers that fitted into that niche and took them on a journey in store through customisation. Nike has found great success by focusing their attention on their high-value customers as niche.