The new year is nearly upon us. While you’re putting the finishing touches on your holiday sales strategies to finish 2019 with a bang, spare some time to start thinking about what growth in 2020 will look like for your retail store.
- Customer influence will be more important than ever in 2020. Shoppers set the tone and direction for retail innovations, not retailers—do you have a way of quantifying what they want?
- 2020 will see continued growth in omnichannel retail. Physical locations and eCommerce sites will have their individual relationships with shoppers further defined and both channels will continue to work together.
- Retail marketing will focus on online channels more than ever. Retailers who aren’t already building an online community around their brand should start in 2020, lest shoppers look elsewhere.
To address these trends, start thinking about three key strategic directions:
- Reconsider the purpose of your physical store(s)
- Improve communication with customers
- Keep pushing your omnichannel strategy
1. Reconsider your physical store’s purpose
What is the purpose of a brick and mortar location today? What will it be in 2020? What are the business trends for 2020? Obviously, your store exists to sell products to customers—but how? What do you prioritize, and how do you know what will work? (Hint: with data!)
Think about your in-store experience
Previous years had retailers thinking about the rise of experiential retail.
When shoppers want convenience, they can go online—and so the purpose of your brick and mortar store should be to bring your brand experience to life. It’s a logical line of thought that retailers in diverse industries are embracing to overhaul their stores and drive a new wave of interested consumers.
In 2020, look to what you can do in your own store to improve its experience from the moment a shopper walks in, to the moment they walk out—ideally even beyond that. If you’re a sporting goods retailer who finds that soccer equipment is on an upswing, think about how you can start rearranging your store to better serve that desire. Give customers a space to try out top-selling products in-store. The ability to try before they buy is a great incentive for them to choose you. Arrange your floor plan around being able to play, and change your visual displays as your customers’ desires change.
Pro tip: No matter how you decide to start optimizing your brick and mortar location, use data to make the right calls. Use your POS to pull reports on your top categories, keep an eye on what is selling best and focus your experiential efforts around that stock for best ROI.
Optimize all of your locations
If sales data from your POS system can tell you what is selling well across your entire business, it should also be able to get granular and tell you what is selling well in each store. Multi-location retailers should start thinking about diversifying their stores to fit with the unique clientele of each.
If your flagship location is in a busy, professional area, orient your store’s layout and product offering to serve large amounts of shoppers at a time. These customers will likely appreciate a clean, intuitive layout with readily available sales associates equipped with technology to look up product information and check them out on the spot.
If you have a second location in an area that’s more likely to attract families, the best-selling products in that location may be different, and your customers’ needs will be as well. Look to your POS to see what products resonate with shoppers on a per location basis, and rearrange your store to showcase those. It may be that your different locations carry products not found in the others—and that’s okay, because in 2020, retail will be dictated by customer preferences more than ever before.
2. Improve communication with your customers
In 2020, take advantage of technology to convert more interested customers into regulars. Then, use their positive social proof to keep growing and keep attracting new interested customers.
Send the right messages
For growth in 2020, embrace customer segmentation.
If you’re a pet supply store, you could ask employees to add relevant tags to customer profiles—cat owners will be interested in different product promotions than reptile keepers, so keep that information handy. If you have a significant number of shoppers that only shop during the holidays—look to your POS system’s retail reports to help identify them—tag them with relevant identifying info.
By segmenting customers according to shopping habits, you can start sending them the right messages to bring them back in-store for promotions that actually peak their interest.
A jewelry store planning to showcase a new designer’s line could prepare three different emails—one for regular shoppers with a general announcement, one for customers who previously expressed interest in the type of jewelry you’ll be showcasing, and one for customers with birthdays coming up soon. By segmenting customers in this way, you’re able to communicate exactly what they’ll be interested in, driving growth.
How you set up your customer segments is up to you, but be sure you’ve communicated with your employees and trained them on how to add information to customer profiles.
Reinforce their good feelings
You’ve served them the best retail experience you can—your store experience is optimized, your staff are well-trained and you know which products resonate with your customers. So, how can you be sure they remember their positive experience? By having them put it into writing.
Good reviews are social proof you can use to bring in new customers—a study found that 93% of shoppers use online reviews to influence their purchasing decisions. When you’re crafting social posting strategies, keep those good reviews on hand—maybe even store them in a highlight on Instagram.
But good reviews do more than bring in new customers—they help you convert one-time customers into regulars. Not only are they more likely to remember the things they write down, reading what your happy customers concretely enjoy about your store will help you optimize your sales strategy.
Look to your POS for help to automate this process. You may be able to set up a system that prompts customers to leave a review by email after they’ve paid.
3. Keep pushing your omnichannel strategy
Retailers have been hearing it for a while now—think omnichannel.
It’s good advice: open an eCommerce site, add that buy button to your Facebook page, sell on Instagram with shoppable posts. But what else can you do to use omnichannel retail to your advantage in 2020?
Help your customers webroom (and showroom)
Webrooming is when shoppers use eCommerce sites to research before ultimately buying in store. Showrooming is the opposite—researching products in-store before buying online.
A study found that 69% of shoppers in the U.S. webroomed, while 46% showroomed. It’s safe to say it’s now essential to provide both online and in-store experiences. They shouldn’t be seen as two individual streams of revenue, because they’re increasingly being used to support one another.
Both webrooming and showrooming are on the rise. This new mode of purchasing has baffled and frustrated some retailers—why help customers learn about a product if they’re going to make a purchase somewhere else? If you lean into the impulses behind webrooming and showrooming, you’ll close the loop instead of sending customers somewhere else for their final purchase.
This could mean equipping employees with tablets with which they can easily search through your inventory for detailed product information. Webrooming-prone customers will appreciate being able to ask the questions they would have otherwise researched on their own online, while those who lean toward showrooming will appreciate being able to make an order for hard-to-find products in-store.
Also consider a pickup in store option for your eCommerce site if you haven’t already enabled it. Not only will this appeal to webroomers who may need a nudge to shop with you specifically (or don’t want to pay for shipping), you’ll have a chance to convert them into long-term in-store customers by ensuring they visit you.
Promote your hard work
Take advantage of the good reviews you’ll be collecting with your new sales strategy. Consider launching a blog and posting SEO-optimized content. Showcase flash sales, daily deals and special promotions using social media stories.
Don’t forget about closing the loop by adding programs like Pointy to your store so local shoppers can find you through your products, not just your posts, when they’re researching online.
We’re headed into a new decade—one that will see plenty of change in the retail world and beyond. Prepare for the future and embrace your potential retail growth with smart data, customer-first strategies and the right technology.