Last year was full of surprises; Brexit,Trump, and Pokémon Go were examples of a cultural phenomenon that defined 2016, which one way or another, has or will impact retail. Meanwhile, futuristic strides into re-defining shopping experiences have resulted in successful commercial drone deliveries, VR (virtual reality) and AR (technology augmented reality) gaining popularity beyond the novelty, and a strong focus on removing friction with technology. Our bet is 2017 will be bigger and better, so let’s kick the year off with these five ‘retail-utions’:
1. Lift My Game, Big Time
Having the vision to lift your game is a retail survival skill that you’ll have to develop in 2017. Last year, a story about how three Seattle-based, traditional retailers, Filson, Eddie Bauer, and Nordstrom innovated to find “new ways to tell their brand story by investing in the in-store experience” resonated with us. It demonstrated not only the retailers’ heightened awareness of the changing environment, but their ability to elevate their value proposition against pure-play competitors.
Lifting your game in the midst of change can be overwhelming, so finding clarity by employing the help of those around you is key. Try a self awareness challenge, and collaborate with different departments - customer service, finance, product, marketing, and more, to create an amazing shopping experience that makes business sense.
2. Be Very, Very Customer-centric
It’s no coincidence that ‘Customer Obsession’ sits at the top of Amazon’s leadership principles. This juggernaut retailer has proven time and time again that it walks the talk, from blowing away Harry Potter fans with magic, to seamless checkout-free grocery shopping. Its “reinvention of the last mile” sets a new standard, and exposes the growing value of shipping and fulfillment in the retail value chain.
However, don’t let shoppers wait around for big proclamations when you can get started on affecting change now. Dedicate time to fix common customer pain points, such as slow or expensive deliveries, complicated checkout, or inflexible returns. Download this whitepaper on how you can build post-purchase happiness for inspiration.
3. Learn to Build Sustainable Growth
It’s easy to react to market trends by throwing in your year’s budget to initiatives that can provide short-term growth, but how about thinking about the long haul? Just last year, US retailer Aéropostale filed for bankruptcy, and JC Penney announced that it would cut payroll and freeze overtime for its employees - after confirming that 40 locations will be shut. To avoid being another casualty, you’ll need to focus on building a retail business that’s robust enough to survive, and dare we say it, flourish in uncertain times.
Begin by assessing how much control you have over various aspects of your business. Are you able to scrape back more profit margin by restructuring how you fulfill and ship orders? Can you widen the geographical distance of your deliveries with minimal infrastructure and cost investment? By recalibrating your business to cope better with the changing economy, you’ll be literally miles ahead of your competition.
4. Get Good at Shipping = More $$$
With 64% of abandoned carts blamed on shipping-related woes, optimising shipping should be a priority for you in 2017. Not only can mastering shipping make processing orders easier, it serves as an effective sales tool to help you convert and retain customers. With the rise of shipping and fulfillment software (such as ours) entering the market, there’s no excuse for falling flat here.
To explore the full potential of how shipping and fulfillment technology can do wonders for your retail business, think of it as a cost and time optimisation tool. Think about offering shipping options at checkout that match your customer’s needs with minimal fuss, or consolidate multiple items in an order into perfectly sized packaging. How about lowering the cost of onboarding multiple carriers, or perhaps transforming your retail stores into mini distribution centres and click-and-collect points? Here’s an example of how Krispy Kreme used shipping as a sales tool.
5. Be S.M.A.R.T-E.R
You may have a million ideas coming at you right now - how exciting, but take a breath and give yourself some time to think about what your goals and objectives are. It’s important that initiatives can be accounted for, so tie them back to ‘S.M.A.R.T’ (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely) goals. To challenge yourself further, think about making them Engaging and Repeatable. Transparent collaboration is key to keeping this resolution alive, so lift each other up when things get rough, and celebrate each other’s successes regularly.
Analysts predict that retail global sales will hit US$26.83 trillion this year, so set up a strong foundation for your business, and give it a chance to realise its full potential. Remember, as the months go by, you’ll be tempted to give up and revert to bad, old habits, but as a certain business leader would have said, “Fortune does favor the bold and you'll never know what you're capable of if you don't try.”