Retailers must step-up and illuminate their points of difference to create a remarkable customer experience if they want to dodge the ‘retail apocalypse,’ a retail consultant told New Retail 19.
President of retail consultancy Sageberry Steve Dennis told the audience on Monday that physical retail is here to stay for those retailers that redefine the customer experience with a unique offering through eight key steps.
As a record number of retailers file bankruptcies, Mr Dennis told the audience that while the sector is transforming rapidly with the rise of Amazon and the challenge of omnichannel, it is only the ‘middle’ retailers that are collapsing under the “retail apocalypse.”
Retailers without a point of difference are “drowning in a sea of sameness,” he says, with those retailers who are either able to sell on mass or offer a premium experience those who will stay afloat.
“What is going on is the collapse of the middle – on one end we have mass merchants like Amazon and on the other end we have more premium, experiential retailers. Then we have retailers stuck in the middle, who are not quite the cheapest or fastest. Trapped in a boring, mediocre middle,” he said.
If retailers find themselves “stuck in the middle,” they should “pick a lane,” Mr Dennis said, with the most viable choice in the current retail climate to create a memorable experience for customers.
“If you pick the price, convenience, speed oriented center you may be competing with Amazon and are likely a race to the bottom. Or you could choose another direction and try to distinguish yourself on services or products.”
Becoming fundamentally more “remarkable” is the secret to succeeding in the new retail world, Mr Dennis said, and this involves eight key steps.
Eight steps to remarkable retail
Harmonising retail channels, creating a memorable customer experience and engaging with consumers across multiple mediums are among eight secrets to creating a remarkable retail experience, according to Mr Dennis.
Building best in class e-commerce capabilities is essential to create a remarkable retail experience, Mr Dennis said.
With a large majority of sales starting in the digital channel, retailers need to be creating a seamless digital experience for consumers across multiple devices.
Crafting a customer-centric experience is essential to a competitive retail strategy, Mr Dennis said.
This means having an in-depth understanding of your customer, and tailoring services to their needs.
Harmonising retail channels essentially means embracing omnichannel, according to Mr Dennis.
Retailers need to illuminate friction or pain points for the customer and find what it is the customer really values, and amplify it.
Personalising the customer experience through loyalty or other rewards programs can also elevate your retail strategy, Mr Dennis told the audience.
Leveraging data to provide a tailored experience is also essential, he said.
Ensuring that your commerce strategy facilitates seamless mobile and smart device usage is also critical.
Utilising social media and other digital channels to connect with your customers underpins a good retail strategy, Mr Dennis said.
This means crafting content in line with your consumer’s interests, and targeting consumers with the relevant channels.
Retailers need to focus on creating a memorable retail experience, by offering customers something unique and personalised, Mr Dennis said.
This means delivering a tailored and relevant customer experience product.
Embracing experimentation in your retail strategy is another tenet of success, Mr Dennis said.
In a rapidly changing world, being forward-thinking is crucial to success.