Retail at the best of times is a stressful environment, always having to be one step ahead of the competition. But to survive under the added pressures of a low growth economy, negative consumer credit growth, on-line sales and consumers with less money in their pockets is a challenge and needs out-of-the-box thinking.
With on-line purchasing growing by the day, a recent JDA Consumer survey in the USA revealed that 46% of respondents prefer to skip shopping in stores in favour of digital channels whilst around 54% prefer to shop in-store to other channels such as online, mobile and social media. What is of interest though is that, year on year data since has shown a steady 44% increase in convenient buying online BUT picking up in store (referred to as BOPIS). In addition, of the respondents that use buy-online, pick-up in store services, 40% sometimes made additional purchases in store. This points to the fact that bricks and mortar stores are still relevant and given the almost 50-50 split, retailers should look at offering incentives to shoppers to use their on-line facilities but also offer further discounts to boost in-store sales once they arrive.
The trick is to be that retailer that gets what’s out there by being innovative and working extra hard to attract and keep customers. Adding value through superior service and finding a niche in the market that sets you apart are areas that can be addressed. Find ways to use on-line marketing to reach new customers and once you have them do everything you can to make their shopping experience memorable so that you retain them at all costs. In your quest to find new customers, don’t neglect your existing ones who are even more important. Give them incentives to choose your outlet to shop at and keep the lines of communication – whether it’s a thank you for shopping or a discount via email, SMS or online.