A lot of the online sources I read have recently been referencing what they call the “Retail Apocalypse.” Experts who claim this is happening quote statistics about declining brick-and-mortar sales or reduced market share for established brands. They say that the only way to survive in the industry is to take drastic measures such as replacing your entire physical footprint with a massive online presence.
In my experience, drastic measures are rarely a good idea, but there is, in fact, one proven, tested, and highly effective way to thrive in the modern retail landscape. And, even better, it’s something your business can take advantage of right now.
The Key Is Technology
Here are some statistics that may intrigue you:
- 52% of consumers want stores to personalize their offers using detailed data from loyalty accounts (source: Oracle)
- Showrooms were on the rise in 2017 (source: PricewaterhouseCoopers)
- Average inventory accuracy levels for U.S. retailers is only 65% (source: Auburn University)
Experienced retailers will easily see why these three statistics matter, especially in the current industry landscape, but let’s unpack these stats a bit and see what they tell us.
As a Rule, You Still Have to Know Your Customers
“Know thy customer” isn’t a new maxim, it’s an age-old sales technique that builds customer loyalty. In the past, developing customer relationships required you to engage shoppers in conversations so you could learn their tastes and interests. This process took a long, long time.
These days, technology helps speed the process. The statistic I quoted shows that the majority of online and in-store shoppers willingly give up their personal data in order to take advantage of deals. With the right technology, you can collect and use your customers’ surrendered data to create a fully personalized shopping experience, which will grant them all the benefits of being a store regular in any of your locations, including online.
Oracle retail solutions help you view and understand customer data from a granular level to a trend level, so you can make both your repeat shoppers and new customers feel welcomed and instantly at home in your stores or online.
Product Knowledge Remains the Key to Everything
Today, trends are increasing toward “showrooming,” in which a retailer consciously makes the omnichannel decision to create a showroom for customers to see and feel products in person and take advantage of a face-to-face session with a knowledgeable expert. Showrooms don’t sell physical products; they help support online shopping decisions with an in-person, boutique-style experience focused on educating customers.
What can we learn from this trend? That modern consumers crave expertise.
You’re passionate about what you sell and you’ve devoted years of your life to learning everything you can about it. If a customer were to ask you a question about your product, you’d be able to answer it in depth. Your talented, experienced sales associates also have this capability. Your entry-level associates however… they’re still learning.
Luckily, technology can help you in this area.
With the use of mobile apps and cutting-edge solutions such as smartphone-interactive kiosks and magic mirrors, tech-friendly retailers can equip their least knowledgeable associates with required facts and can provide additional information instantly by helping customers supplement their in-store shopping experience with online reviews.
Close the Sale with Effortless Purchasing
If average inventory accuracy across the U.S. is only 65%, it follows that average closed sales are probably only 65% as well. That’s terrible.
In fact, that last statistic is the most worrisome of all three because if retailers have only a 65% chance that they’ll know what’s in stock, it’s no wonder that experts predict a Retail Apocalypse. After all, nothing stops a sale in its tracks quite like a stock out. With enough stock outs, it’s unlikely a store will succeed in the long term.
Modern technological solutions for retailers, such as the range of Oracle retail options, provide full insight into inventory availability and can even display real-time, item-by-item tracking in store using RFID or NFC tags that leverage the Internet of Things (IoT) to ensure customers can complete their shopping experience seamlessly. Some of the most forward-thinking of today’s retailers also use these technologies to enhance Loss Prevention activities or help customers locate in-store items on their own, quickly and easily.
Retail Survival Depends on Your Agility
It goes without saying that high-tech retail services, such as the nearly limitless variety of end-to-end Oracle retailer offerings, can assist with your supply chain management, forecasting, purchasing, POS, lifecycle pricing, and eCommerce integration. However, it wasn’t until recently that technology had the capability to fully support long-standing industry tactics such as customer personalization, in-depth product knowledge, and purchasing convenience.
Today’s smartest retailers are using their new technological abilities to continuously improve and optimize their strategies to achieve and maintain their competitive edge. As in all modern businesses, only the most agile—and the most able to leverage technology advances—will survive and thrive.
Learn more about Oracle retail solutions when you contact Centroid.