With traditionally successful retailers struggling to keep up with the rapidly developing retail market, it is inevitable that we’ll see more and more high street stores facing problems in the near future. We have seen so many national retailers go to the wall in recent years - Blockbuster, Borders, and Woolworths, to name a few. Most of these retailers failed because they remained stagnant whilst everyone around them rapidly grew their markets.
There are certainly ways retailers can prevent themselves from becoming obsolete and stay relevant in an era where eCommerce and mCommerce are taking the lead. These are five key starting points for struggling retailers to turn their business around:
1. Look to big data marketing technology to help make educated decisions about how to retain customers.
In this day and age, there’s no excuse to ignore the fact that there’s affordable technology available that can help retailers boost revenue and margins. Analytics technology allows retailers to make sense of large volumes of data very quickly so that they can personalise communications to each individual shopper. Retailers can segment customers, in order to send appropriate communications to each individual based on customer preferences.
In addition to this, retailers can also conduct a targeted replenishment campaign. Gathering data from customers will inform retailers as to when customers are making purchases and enabling them to predict when they will need to replenish specific products.
2. Integration of both online and offline customer data.
Regardless of whether a person shops in a retailer’s physical store or online, there should be a single shopper profile available to give retailers a complete 360-degree view of their customer’s buying preferences. For example, a salesperson in-store should be able to access a record of a shopper’s online and offline purchases so they can make adequate product recommendations.
3. New retailers can now start online before plunging into the bricks-and-mortar world.
Retailers like Orlebar, the menswear brand, initially started as an eCommerce store and grew into bricks-and-mortar stores, recently opening three London stores. We have also recently seen eBay offer click and collect services from Argos stores. Internet players are clearly recognising the benefits of the high street, with consumers still enjoying the convenience of being able to visit a local retailer.
4. New retailers should look into virtual store fronts.
Instead of paying big money for large retail spaces, some retailers are examining the potential of virtual storefronts in shopping centres, linking them to a brand’s e-commerce store. This is clearly much more cost-effective, and retailers still have a physical brand presence in the traditional bricks and mortar shopping location, where customers are used to shopping.
Burberry have recently launched a virtual storefront with the help of Alibaba to expand its growth in the Chinese market. This move gives Burberry an opportunity to test the waters in a new market before making further strategic business decisions.
5. Get social with customers.
Social channels can help retailers actually acquire new customers – not to mention that consumers naturally want to engage with their favorite brands. Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences campaigns allow users to acquire new leads that have similar profiles to your existing customers, allowing retailers to create added revenue opportunities.
There’s no question that retail as we know it is changing, but if retailers take the right steps, they can stay in business for a very long time. Looking to new technologies that can enable retailers to gain an edge over the competition is a great way to stay relevant in the age of eCommerce and mCommerce.
Omer Artun is the founder and CEO of predictive analytics company, AgilOne, and a former Best Buy marketing executive. He holds a Ph.D. in computational neuroscience and physics from Brown University.