In early December, Amazon announced a new promotion where it would incentivize consumers to competitively price-check in retailers’ stores by providing up to $15 in Amazon.com credit. Retailers were floored, leading to many organizations speaking out against the online retailer and providing resources for retailers to boycott Amazon and its app.
The fact of the matter is many retailers simply cannot compete against the low-prices and broad inventory of online retailers. To be successful, independent retail business owners must differentiate their offering beyond price and convenience. Instead, they must focus on offering a remarkable in-store experience, provide the inventory that really matters at appropriate price points, and arm the store with sales associates that are likable and can offer expert advice to inquiring customers.
To executive on recreating a magical in-store experience that is differentiated from online retailer, retailers must focus on three main strategies.
1. Offer more than products. Retailers have to move beyond the belief that a store just needs to stock the shelves low-priced products. Instead, the store should be a place where customers come to experience the products (and brand), interact with the items and others, learn how to better use the products, and be able to inquire about the products.
2. Rethink the store inventory. It is no longer necessary to pack as much inventory as possible within the store. Customers that want a large selection at the lowest price will turn to online retailer. Instead, retailers should focus on carrying only the right mix of products at various price points. Additionally, the appropriate use of signage and a clear store layout can help customers quickly come in and out of the store to find the products they need fast.
3. Hire likable experts. This one is one of the most difficult, because it’s maybe the most intangible. Instead of training a staff of commissions-focused sales associates, retailers should replace and encourage their staff to be likable product consultants and brand ambassadors. These associates should be more focused on problem-solving than making a sale.
There are a number of point-of-sale software features that can assist retailers hoping to differentiate their stores. Here are a few features to be on the lookout for when evaluating new systems:
- maintenance, repair and service management
- retail customer relationship management (CRM)
- inventory control and analysis
- employee and sales management
As with all technology, retailers must be dedicated to ensuring that their store experience is remarkable. They must offer an environment where customers will be excited to enter for the first time, as well as return.
Michael Koploy is an ERP Analyst for Software Advice (retail website here). He reports on news and trends in point of sale and supply chain management software. He can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
C24 would like to thank Michael for this blog.
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