Why Innovation Is Key to Keeping Your Retail Business Alive
For most 21st-century businesses, keeping current and relevant is a fact of life. This is especially so for the retail sector where consumer trends can seem to emerge, bloom and sometimes disappear at an alarming pace.
This article highlights some innovative marketplace developments which have the potential to influence retailing. They really should be on your radar if you want to keep your business up-to-date and thriving!
All customers, but especially millennials, are now looking for branding that goes well beyond the product. People are clearly shopping as much with their emotions as they are with their wallets.
Branding now encompasses the entire corporate culture of the company, with businesses expected to be not just merchandisers but authentic ‘culture coders’.
For business, this means your whole enterprise must reflect what your brand is meant to represent. That can include issues such as genuine sustainability, social justice and more. If you want to have an effective market position, is should be all about getting these issues right.
Research shows that today’s customers expect more than just a basic focus on the product or service being sold. You should create an entire experience that is an integral part of the purchase journey.
That’s why products are now linked with apps and mobile technology which helps to present the product as a multi-dimensional entity. Sometimes there is a tenuous link, as with the ‘Game of Thrones’ pre-release publicity focusing on the wild beauty of the Irish landscape where many action scenes took place.
Another retail experience, created by Samsung, involved a $43 million “pop-up” featuring company products without any items for sale. And elsewhere, many businesses are using virtual reality to present their wares in new ways.
You will probably not be able to create experiences that are anywhere in the ball park of these examples that obviously took extremely large budgets. There are, however, a lot of ways to create scaled-down versions of this way of marketing.
E-commerce via subscription
Many retailers are increasingly undertaking to curate individualised options on behalf of customers and deliver them to the customer's door on a regular basis. The appeal of such sign-up subscription services lies in the subtle mix of tangible benefits such as convenience, value for money, and personalised selection.
One example is the regular supply of razor blades through ‘shaving clubs’ operated by major players such as Gillette, as well as by smaller niche brands who emphasise their exclusive appeal.
Consider whether your retail business would be able to offer a similar service to your customers.
Shipping and delivery
The growth of online shopping is inextricably linked with the continuing improvement in shipping and delivery services. Though corporations such as Amazon and Walmart have set the benchmark in terms of consumer expectations, the logistics industry is geared up to offer similar services to most businesses.
Customers can take advantage of an ever increasing and often richly nuanced range of purchase, delivery and return options. Such innovations allied with good reliability boost buyer confidence in online shopping and not many companies can afford to opt out of this trend.
Your retail business should look at what delivery services you can offer and whether or not they are able to match up to what is expected from customers. Although you don’t have to offer delivery on the level of Amazon, you should still be able to offer a decent delivery service.
Customers are now beginning to expect discounts and other perks in return for their loyalty. And likewise, more and more brands are appreciating just how profitable it can be to sell to satisfied returning customers.
The marketing hard work has been done, and a regularly returning customer soon becomes a brand ambassador – which is actually a marketing bonus! Some innovative loyalty programmes are even developing their exclusivity by establishing members-only stores.
Be proactive with ways that you can keep your customers returning. You should also be proactive with ways that you keep your retail business innovative and relative. Keep researching and adapting!
By Jo Thornley, Head of Brand and Partnerships at Dynamis. Joining in 2005 to co-ordinate PR and communications and produce editorial across all business brands. She earned her spurs managing the communications strategy and now creates and develops partnerships between BusinessesForSale.com, FranchiseSales.com and PropertySales.com and likeminded companies.