Market Disruption Goes Digital
The digital age has brought endless information to the tips of our fingers. The average person walks around with a tiny, but powerful computer in their pocket and globalization is running full speed ahead. We are being throttled into a future with a more educated and connected populace.
While this overall change can be debated as good or bad, it has undoubtedly forced retailers to rethink their strategy for how they sell their products to their customers.
No More Retail and eCommerce, Just Integrated Retail
The internet has created a new class of retailers that are able to bypass the difficulties of opening brick and mortar stores and sell their products via digital shelves of their own creation, or through third-party retailers. That means customers now have more options than ever for where they get their products, and a new premium has been put on the customer experience.
Even if you have an expertly merchandised brick and mortar store, 87% of customers research a product online before entering a physical store, and 82% of customers research a product online while shopping in-store. The experts are calling this integrated retail. There is no longer a line between shopping online and shopping in brick and mortar. The customer experience must be personalized and optimized, online and offline, to retain a loyal customer base and create net new brand-loyal customers.
So, how can traditional retailers, big box or not, compete in this new era of integrated commerce?
What’s a Retailer to Do?
Retailers today have several large mountains to climb. Steeper competition with more retailers present in the marketplace, the marketplace is transitioning to leaning heavily on digital merchandising, and customers are more empowered and knowledgeable than ever.
To stay competitive, retailers only need one big gun in their arsenal: an amazing customer experience, in-store and online. Their mobile experience needs to be seamless, their customer support must be timely and attentive, and most importantly, their product content must be complete and accurate. This means taking advantage of not only responsive digital merchandising, but also leveraging mobile messaging, push notifications, SMS, and apps.
In the State of Retailing 2017 Study by Forrester and the National Retail Federation, retailers reported the top three new things they will invest in for 2017 were customer service, marketing, and omnichannel efforts.
They also listed their top four initiatives and priorities for online (digital) business in 2017 as mobile (54%), marketing (46%), site merchandising (42%), and omnichannel efforts (22%).
With accurate, complete product content, products will grab the attention of customers no matter if they shop out of a browser or a brick and mortar store. The products they receive when buying online or in-store will meet their expectations, with fewer returns. This, in turn, builds trust and loyalty with your customers, because they know they can count on you to provide the right product they need, every time.
Retail Isn’t Dying
While retailers are certainly feeling the pressure of a burgeoning digitally-based, convenience-driven economy, the retail business itself isn’t going anywhere. People will always need things, and there will always be retailers to buy from. The only thing separating the eventual winners and losers is a strong mobile strategy, tailored to please customers in-store and online.