As retailers and marketers, we’ve spent a good chunk of 2019 promoting products and services without focusing on the three pillars of retail and instead only looking at onboarding new customers. In-turn we were expected to run campaigns that sought creative ways to impact our bottom lines. Semantics3 reported that there are nearly 6 million merchants currently operating in the online trading ecosystem. With nearly 10% of active websites pointing to an eCommerce store, there is no doubt that retail is positively paving the future of things to come in 2020.
If we had to take a look at 2019’s retail performance, we clearly see trends pointing to the most obvious. Woocommerce dominates the SMB market as the number one online retail solution. Closely followed by Shopify and other third-party integrations. Clothing and accessories were the highest products sold and they outperformed almost every other niche out there.
As new small to medium scale businesses begin to throw their weight around and seek the right approach to go completely online, it is imperative to understand that there are lessons to be learned as we start our marketing campaigns into the new year. Truth be told, retailers cannot afford another year like 2019. As a business owner, I understand that you cannot wait to take a bite at this billion-dollar industry, but first, let’s take a step back and look at how we should shed some focus on minimizing financial risks.
eCommerce demands more and it is, therefore, become essential to lay down three pillars of retail success that will ensure the right approach for our business in 2020. It is important that we determine what are our strengths and weaknesses so that we can create winning strategies that last for the year.
Retail Success Pillar One: Understand Customer Data
As retailers, we have historically allowed our gut and passion to suppress facts. The assumptions we make lead to overstocked shelves and graphs of missed profits. I’ve seen too many retailers stocking coats and jackets in April and not being able to ship them out in December. When you decide to connect your customer’s data with your business using these three pillars of retail, you will be able to gain a holistic picture of what you need to do to remain profitable.
Being a retailer, you should be able to map your customer’s lifecycle to your brand and thereby create better shopping experiences. The day you understand your data will be the day you realize your business’s potential. Then, being able to cross-promote products and insightfully combine full-priced promotions will be a breeze. The goal here is to increase revenue and have a long term profit statement while reducing unneeded marketing spends.
Retail Success Pillar Two: Master the Supply Chain
Over the years, we have seen how customers dramatically change their focus. They no longer seek the need to compartmentalize their purchases offline or online. With constant connectivity, their shopping journeys have gotten complete flexibility and it helps them create better purchase decisions.
With the advent of cheaper telecommunication plans, customers turn to their phones to browse the items they want and have the option of collecting their purchase in-store or opt for home delivery. The competition in home delivery and logistics is intense and as more retailers vouch for same-day deliveries (a feat that was impossible 2 years ago), the need to bring a better supply chain management system has become vital.
Retailers need to be able to extend their value proposition beyond competitive prices and instead offer a suite of services, all designed to build better customer experiences. With the help of the first pillar of retail, you will be able to stay ahead in terms of profitability. A well-connected data network will help provide greater insight into consumer behavior thereby allow you to manage your inventory, warehouses, and stores.
Retail Success Pillar Three: Constant Innovation
What most business owners do not see is that retail units are consistently at a tipping point and lean over to the fear of being left behind. Innovation is a double-edged sword. If you are serious about getting it right, you should be aware of how to approach your goals with a focus on constant innovation.
Building for innovation often is misinterpreted and product owners simply reinvent for the purpose of technology. This is far from the truth. Innovations should be within reason and their main objective should be to fulfill the needs of changing landscapes. At the end of the day, retailers and brands that have product strategies and roadmaps always feature a balance of priority and technology. Innovating products should always focus on creating happy and loyal customers. Introduce your new features by emailing customers at the right time and you should see the results pour in.
If you are a business owner, you should know that the intellectual instruction and optimized improvement of these three pillars of retail can never have immediate results. You need to be in for the long haul. If you move toward the need for building customer insights, pairing it with great supply chain logistics and wrapping it up with constant reasonable innovation, you will dominate the better half of 2020.