Retail will never be the same. Consumer preferences are constantly shifting, technology is advancing, and commerce is dynamic. The marketplace is on the front-lines of new experiences, and there’s nothing shoppers crave more than new retail experiences. Is a retail renaissance occurring for small businesses?
On the front lines, independent retail stores must constantly reinvent themselves. Small business owners as entrepreneurs are essentially creators now, in an age where the marketplace is converging with a new reality.
1. It’s the Age of the Consumer
Retail experiences and customer journeys are now frictionless and customer-focused. Advertising, commerce, and smartphone trends now have to keep up with the quickly changing consumer, whose values and new habits are creating the new paradigm of retail.
Customer experiences must be the focus to appeal to audiences and personalize experiences for them that are radically in sync with culture, community, education and entertainment. In other words, the age of the consumer means stores must impact these — and not simply sell “stuff”.
2. Always Easy Path to Purchase
In an era of multi-channel and always online commerce, stores must make it easy, because for the new consumer, convenience wins. What’s easy and convenient is different for a diverse group of your shoppers.
However being mobile friendly, having great return policies, smooth customer service, a store design that’s easy on the eyes, and having a great loyalty program—that’s facilitating an easy path to purchase.
3. Educate and Entertain Customers
A retail brand isn’t what it used to be. The new consumer demands a fully immersive and interactive brand and product experience. Shoppers don’t just want great products with unbelievable discounts, you have to offer them the full experience.
In 2018, the full experience means does your commerce stand for something — does it bring your local community together? Does it entertain and educate you seamlessly about the product and the people who bring those products to life? Influencers, community, and sustainable causes can really help a retail brand reach the next level of customer interaction.
4. The Power of Digital Influence
For a small business it’s great to have your physical store, but your work is never done. For in 2018, digital influence takes many forms. From AR to digital signage in the store, to good-old email marketing, and being quick to answer customer inquiries online, the impact of digital influence on commerce is undeniable.
Is your website and store optimized for search and local search; have you covered your bases on social media; have you implemented the very best POS and software integrations that’s right for your store? Everything counts, from the printer you use, to the kind of marketing you do.
5. Be An Authentic Entrepreneur — Live your Commerce
Independent retailers are families, stories, and sometimes even inter-generational. Retail stores with rich stories and who portray themselves as real entrepreneurs appeal to the human side of shoppers.
Being authentic in physical retail also means you care about your customer at every point of their journey. You sweat the details and create holistic and exquisite experiences. You inspire with the positive impact you have on the community, not just as an outlet of merchandise, but a small businesses that’s approachable, experts in their domain, and people that sync with the values of your best customers.
Retail might never be the same. As big apparel and retail chains go bankrupt (think Sears & Toys R Us), independent retailers recognize they have a huge advantage, they are pillars of the community and excel at putting people first. Retail might be changing forever, but there’s never been a more exciting time to be a small business owner, or a shopper.