Despite the slew of think pieces proclaiming brick-and-mortar retail dead, it’s still alive and well. Savvy entrepreneurs understand that physical sales in the internet age simply require a different approach than yesteryear. Whether you manage a national chain of clothing stores, a handful of local boutiques or anything in between, here are four tips for effectively managing those brick-and-mortar retail stores.
Pursue an Omnichannel Retail Strategy
While foot traffic in malls may be down, people still appreciate the immediacy of shopping in person. One Retail Dive survey revealed that 62 percent of shoppers choose in-store shopping “to see, touch, feel and try out items.” Luckily, there’s a way to combine the convenience of ecommerce with the immersive experience of physical shopping: omnichannel selling through a combination of online and brick-and-mortar functions.
An omnichannel strategy can take many forms. Some stores set up in-store tablets or kiosks so customers can instantly check product availability or explore additional colors, sizes and features. Some stores allow shoppers to investigate products in store then place a purchase for delivery to their doorstep. Customers may also be able to order from the comfort of their homes and pick up their purchase in-store the next day. Many modern retailers are creating apps for customers to use both in-store and on the go, creating one seamless experience.
The more channels a shopper uses before making a purchase, the more money they spend. Harvard Business Review found omnichannel shoppers spent 4 percent more on each in-store shopping trip and 10 percent more online than single-channel shoppers. And those who pursued four or more channels leading up to a purchase spent 9 percent more in store. Customers who utilize multiple channels are also more loyal over time. The conclusion: The more ways in which you engage customers, the more they interact with your store and spend.
Consider the Impact of Various Revenue Sources
A modern sale is much more than a cashier ringing up a sale for a customer at the counter. Along with an omnichannel strategy comes data metrics and dimensions like conversions, assisted conversions, sources and return on investment (ROI). Effective retail management means segmenting data by source to give credit where credit is due—and studying the relationship between various sources to determine what’s working and what isn’t in terms of customer acquisition, customer retention and sales figures.
Track Customer Preferences to Influence Planning
Customers give retailers clues about their habits and preferences all the time. Is your team equipped to piece together the puzzle and act accordingly? Let’s say last season, your store faced a minor merchandising disaster when buyers ordered hundreds of hats in a pattern that customers ended up avoiding. How will you ensure costly mistakes aren’t a repeat occurrence? How can you make sure your store is keeping up on the latest and greatest offerings (in inventory and order fulfillment) within your niche? It all starts by amassing customer data.
For example, data shows that customers’ channel preferences “vary by age, purchase category and stage in the shopping journey.” In order to cater to your target audience, you need to understand how they want to shop and why they feel that way. Consider sending out post-purchase surveys to gather enough data points on this topic and others. If you can cater your product offerings and checkout methods to your customers, you’ll boost loyalty.
Automate Certain Ordering Functions
The last thing you want to tell a customer who drove all the way to your store is that a popular item is out of stock. That’s why you may want to establish a fixed interval inventory model for reordering so your staff is able to a consistent eye on inventory levels. You may even want to automate reordering so no key shipments slip through the cracks.
With these four tips for effectively managing brick-and-mortar retail stores, you’re ready to bring your store into the modern age. Never underestimate the power of data analysis and omnichannel retail in today’s marketplace.