In the retail industry, online sales are booming. So, what does that mean for your brick-and-mortar business?
While the Internet has changed the way consumers shop, brick-and-mortar stores still dominate the retail market. According to the Harvard Business Review, sales made at brick-and-mortar stores accounted for 92.3% of retail sales in the first quarter of 2016. In addition, only 0.8 percent of retail sales shifted from offline to online between the beginning of 2015 and 2016. While this is good news for retailers with physical locations, these brick-and-mortar stores are finding that they must evolve to successfully meet the new needs of informed consumers armed with smartphones and greater expectations of their shopping experience.
Tips for Successful Brick-and-Mortar Stores in 2017 and Beyond
Turn your store into an experience
When you look at who is leading the pack in terms of sales per square foot, the top five physical retailers, Apple, Warby Parker, Tiffany & Co., Lululemon, and Michael Kors, all give their customers a unique experience within their physical store that cannot be achieved online. A top priority for any brick-and-mortar store is getting customers in the door. Draw them in with an experience.
According to a Walker study, customer experience is expected to be the main brand differentiator by the year 2020, surpassing both price and products. One retailer who seems to know this is Macy’s. After having quarter after quarter of sales declines in 2016 and expecting more of the same in 2017, Macy’s has chosen to evolve their strategy by focusing on their customer experience. “We will be investing for the future in 2017. Looking at the continued challenges in the retail environment and changing consumer shopping behaviors, we know we must evolve our strategy and execute faster,” Terry J. Lundgren, Macy’s chairman and chief executive officer said in a statement. “Key to this is enhancing the customer experience in our stores.”
Become a Neighborhood Fixture by Connecting with Customers
When one brick-and-mortar entrepreneur was asked if there was anything she knew now that she wished she had known at the start of opening her shop, the entrepreneur explained that she wished she had known the value of listening to customer feedback from the very beginning. By listening to customer feedback, she found it possible to create a special customer experience that truly reflects the neighborhood the business serves.
Small is the next big thing, according to some retail forecasters. Retail forecasters have also predicted that millennials and baby boomers will look for a more personal shopping experience while affluent consumers will increase their overall expectations, all of which can be provided by local, small businesses in a more favorable way than big retail chains.
Consumers are growing more and more aware of the benefits to buying local. Many smart buyers know that purchasing a product at a locally owned business will help keep their money in their local economy, strengthening their community. This can be an incentive for many to shop local, even at a premium. In addition to improving their community, shopping locally has environmental benefits that many conscious consumers are aware of.
Stay on the cutting edge
One way Amazon has become the eCommerce giant all retailers know- and many fear- is through its relentless innovation. If you look at future retail trends to watch in 2017, from drones to distributed commerce, Amazon is unsurprisingly leading the way. Forward-thinking companies that watch trends and anticipate their customers’ future needs tend to have an edge over their competitors. Through innovation and investing in your business your customer experience can be enhanced.
Give customers a seamless transition from online to in-store
Customers are using their mobile devices to shop and to comparison shop now more than ever before. Last year, Forbes reported that customers like to research online but tend to make big purchases in-store, according to a retailer survey. Customers tend to value the experience of seeing and touching a product before buying, and it is still important for many to speak to a knowledgeable and courteous salesperson. Therefore, physical locations hoping to stand out to customers should think of ways to implement an omni-channel experience designed for our hyper-connected lives.
The retail landscape is evolving and the future of brick-and-mortar stores seems to be relying more heavily on an exceptional customer experience than ever before. A store’s customer experience can help drive customer loyalty and entice favorable recommendations from your current customer base to others. These are factors that will help determine if a brick-and-mortar business will thrive or fail.
The Simple Clean 18 was designed for this particular retail market, especially for stores looking to improve their store’s appearance while saving time and money. This innovative tool helps small businesses enhance their customer experience by making it simple to keep their store’s cleanliness consistently at a level above competitors. Cordless, compact, and affordable, the Simple Clean 18 can maneuver in tight spaces and around garment racks with ease. This powerful machine scrubs floors and leaves them dry in a single pass, allowing customers and employees to continue to use the floors immediately after they have been cleaned. Customers often rate cleanliness a top factor in determining where they shop and whether or not they will return to a store. Don’t overlook this vital part of brick-and-mortar business ownership.