How Digital Workplace Platforms Can Help Retailers Thrive in a Changing Landscape

The world of retail is shifting quickly, moving from a focus on physical stores and straightforward buying patterns, to online shopping and elliptical decision-making processes.

Buyers rarely just head to the mall when they need new shoes anymore; instead they start a maze-like process of online research and consultation that ends with either and online or in-store purchase, potentially from a retailer they’d never heard of when they started searching.

This shift has raised concerns about a “retail apocalypse” in which stores are being shuttered and shopping malls are becoming ghost towns. The portion of overall sales made online is predicted to jump from 16% to 25% by 2026, and estimates say that some 75,000 retail locations are likely to be shuttered in that same interval.

These numbers may sound grim—and they certainly aren’t a signal for brick-and-mortar retailers to sit back and relax—but they hardly spell doom. More accurately, they point to a realigning of customers’ priorities and retailers’ positioning and operating procedures.

John D. Morris, senior brand apparel analyst for financial services firm D.A. Davidson, goes so far as to call the process “a healthy cleansing for the retail industry.”

Physical retail locations will never be extinct; people like to try out and try on things before they buy. They like to browse and discover, and use shopping in physical locations as a stress reliever, source of recreation, and social occasion.

So the increased competition among brick-and-mortar retailers presents a new opportunity: To make operations better and more aligned with what customers today are looking for. Retailers who are able to compete are going to have to think in new ways. They will have to think harder about online marketing and sales, and also about how to ensure that their employees are engaged and their operations are supplying buyers with what they really want.

The Customer Is King

Indeed, in this changing retail landscape, the thing that sets retailers apart most from their competitors is an avid focus on customer engagement and satisfaction.

More than ever with the rise of online retail and marketing, the customer is king. Not only do customers bring revenue as in decades past, they now bring influence as they share their shopping experiences and treasures with others in their online social circles. This new world is one in which a single picture of one person wearing something can send sales of that item shooting through the roof, both online and in-store.

This increased customer influence means that retailers that dedicate themselves to identifying the customer’s needs, wants, problems, and pain points—and working on how to meet, satisfy, and fix those things—will come out ahead, both online and in the world of brick-and-mortar. Customers want to feel like they know, trust, and like the companies they buy from. The process of shopping is now about so much more than just the thing on the shelf.

What Sets Retailers Apart

A big part of making sure customers feel cared for and satisfied is excellent service. Customers will gravitate toward and recommend retailers that employ staff who are competent, empowered, and organized to help customers get what they want or need.

Smart retailers can get a jump on the competition by employing a digital workplace platform to help make sure their employees are able to approach work in proactive ways and are given the know-how and the ability to make decisions. That employee engagement is the secret sauce that will delight your customers, whether they’re making inquiries online, purchasing in-store, or dealing with customer service regarding a problem or concern.

WorkJam is a tool that can help build a company full of employees who are as much partners as workers; they can easily control their schedules, get information, ask management questions, learn about company processes and policies, and generally feel like they’re part of a winning team.

It’s retailers whose operations are built on that kind of employee satisfaction that will succeed most in this changing marketplace.

To learn more about developments in the retail space and how you can leverage technology to stay ahead, read WorkJam’s comprehensive white paper about the future of retail.