Updated: Nov 24, 2019
Physical retail isn’t dead, but boring retail is.....
@fenwick xmas window from wgsn.
As a retailer, it’s often an abrupt wake-up call when you realise Christmas is less than 4 weeks away. It’s the date that you circle in your calendar, and feel as though you are preparing for all year. If last Christmas wasn’t your greatest, there is still time to refresh your strategy, and make Christmas 2019 your best!
There is a big fat myth floating around the retail and broader industries that brick and mortar is dying. We see it everywhere - from shops closing down, to more and more new retailers creating their business solely online.
Retail isn’t dead, it’s just different. In order to reinvigorate your retail game, you need to understand why, how and have the desire to make the necessary changes.
There is still a great opportunity to make a success of retail, but you need to be on top of your game and working on these tasks daily.
Where are you now?
It’s a tough question, and can sometimes be confronting, especially as a small business owner, but it’s an important starting point to reevaluate your current state, and make a clear start on where you’re going wrong and where you’re getting it right!
If you could list 1-2 things that make you and your store truly unique, what are they? Here are some things you need to consider;
What makes you you? What is your USP (unique selling proposition)?
Do you have a unique product?
Do you have brands in store no one else has in the region/state/country?
Do you offer a service no-one else does in your area?
Do you go above and beyond for your customers and they rave about it?
Does your store have amazing visual displays that stop people in their tracks?
Is your social media so good people travel for miles to visit you?
What is your story? Do you tell it? Customers love to know a ‘why’ and ‘how’?
What are you doing in your store that customers get excited about?
Could you have an in-store activation? A workshop? Collaboration with another local business? Art show?
It’s also important to look into what others are doing that you could adopt? Some concepts may be out of reach in terms of budget however they could spark ideas that you can adopt.
Make it a habit to visit other stores regularly, and take inspiration and creative concepts. Also, follow other stores on social media, keep tabs on what content they are creating and sharing. It’s also a great way to build your network and create relationships with other retailers and traders!
@converse instore activation (image from @fashionjournal )
Macro vs Micro trends?
Macrotrends are long term directional shifts on a global scale. These overachieving themes impact consumer behavior. Like sustainability, wellness, truthfulness (open supply chain), connection to community, rethink plastic. All you have to do is think about the latest Woolworths and Coles plastic bag debacle, to understand the grand power of the consumers drive behind macro trends.
Microtrends may be what the latest brands are bringing out. Is it the 80’s fashion, return to nostalgia, vintage and slow fashion, 70’s sunglasses, tie dye… and the list goes on.
It’s important that you are on top of the trends to show your customer that you know what is going on in the industry and that you can be a trusted retailer, by buying appropriately for your store.
How are you evolving to match these trends?
Buying for your customer
There’s no denying that a critical part of evolving your retail strategy is that you have to understand your customer. If you are purchasing products that don’t match your consumers needs and wants, then essentially, you’re wasting your money.
When buying for your customer do you have a list of values and ideals that define your store?
If you feel like you need to reassess, list out 5 principles of the product you have in store.
For example; Sustainable, Ethical, Local, Handmade, Creative
Innovative, Sustainable, Colourful, Independent design, Natural fibres.
Having a clear and concise idea of WHO you’re buying for, will help guide your buying process and ensure your store offering matches the values you represent.
Getting a fresh pair of eyes to review your store is also a fantastic way to gain a greater understanding of what you’re currently offering.
Someone (professional or independent friend) can come in store and critique the layout, the visual appeal, the layers of product, the smell in store (sometimes this can be overwhelming (candles) or musty).
The importance of visual merchandising
If I was walking by for the first time would I know what you had in store? Confusion results when the window space is cluttered with lots of different products. As this is often a customers first impression of a store, it is important that you put your best foot forward and make it very clear what is on offer. Whether this is having very clear and considered product on display or through prominent signage, it is vital to drawing potential customers into the retail space.
Do you have items to sell on the counter? Does your layout entice customers to wander in and seek out more?
Visual merchandising is crucial to keep customers once they arrive. This carries everything from the shop layout, how your products are displayed, in what order, how they’re spaced etc. Do you have “instagram worthy” spots in store? Will customers want to take photos in your store wearing your product or tagging their location - a great aesthetic encourages the taking and sharing of photos, in other words, free marketing for your store.
What do you offer a customer that competitors don’t?
There is no denying that the retail space is incredibly crowded. Customers have a huge amount of choice, and to ensure that your brand stands out, you have to consider what you are offering the customer that your competitors don’t. Do you offer customisation? Embroidery? Or embossing? Unique colour combinations? Customers love to get something unique and personalised.
Customisation lets shoppers purchase a product tailored specifically to their needs and style, and makes them feel like they have something that no one else does.
As the lines between digital and physical shopping experiences blur, retailers need to make sure to be agile and responsive to customer needs with branded touchpoints at all parts of the buying journey. You must be omnichannel. Customers like to see what is online or repurchase from you easily - convenience is key! You don’t want customers to get frustrated navigating your page and click off, losing a sale and potential repeat customer.
Make your social media shoppable. Retailers can take advantage of the rise in social shopping by partnering with social media influencers and dedicating time and resources to building out shoppable social profiles, especially on Instagram and Pinterest.
This is just the tip of the iceberg! Retail is hard at the moment, but with the right understanding and determination, you will be able to turn your current state around and turn 2019 into your best in a while! I hope this helps to fire up the belly and kick you into action. Test some of these out and let me know how you go.
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