Insights

Looking Ahead to 2018: 5 Things All Retailers Need to Know

January 16th, 2018

The start of a New Year is an exciting time for merchants. It welcomes change while also introducing opportunities… and of course, allows for new goals, new expectations and new standards to be put in place. Among them? Making 2018 your best year yet as a merchant. To help? Consider the below five tips. 

Tip #1: Incorporate Data into Your Everyday Retail Habits

The human touch is undoubtedly a powerful tool when it comes to small businesses – particularly retailers who truly come to life thanks to the personalities and hard work that their owners offer. This said, human touch alone cannot capture, identify and react to all the necessary details that help a retailer be both successful and profitable. Data, however, combined with the unique human touch is a powerful duo. By incorporating data into your business decisions, you can strengthen your marketing efforts, employee management, inventory evaluations and all other aspects that influence your business. Fortunately, obtaining data is easy for businesses large and small these days – with no shortage of companies offering valuable data solutions specifically for retailers. Among them? This list of ten must know tech driven and data focused companies here

Tip #2: Make Your Brand Experience Consistent at All Touchpoints

A recent article by Forbes explained that “digital and physical touchpoints now must work together flawlessly – yet also do what each touchpoint does best on its own.” Keeping this in mind, 2018 is no longer the year to say ‘one day’ but rather make it part of your immediate new year strategy to create consistent brand experiences across all touchpoints that your brand is represented. From your website to your social media to your email marketing, text messaging strategies and of course, in-store, your store should be represented in a consistent effort across all channels while also standing strong in each unique platform. 

Tip #3: Make Your Store an Experience to Remember

Gone are the days where only one store in town offered what customers needed. Competition – as you already know – is tough, therefore retailers must aim to make their store memorable during all consumer touchpoints. From social media to email marketing to in-store experiences, aim to please in 2018 so that your customers will remember your store among all others when it’s time for them to make a purchase decision. A good way to challenge yourself as you strive to do this? Ask yourself if what you’re delivering in terms of customer service, product assortment, merchandising, in-store events, online engagement, employee standards and all other factors that influence your business are worth bragging to friends about. If not, re-consider your efforts. 

Tip #4: Artificial Intelligence Cannot Be Ignored

Data is certainly influential for businesses, but data alone cannot strengthen retailer efforts in 2018. Combined with artificial intelligence, however, retailers savvy enough to use AI in their strategies will be well positioned to react and support their target audiences. As retail expert Nikki Baird explains, “AI is really an umbrella term for three distinct capabilities: machine learning, natural language processing and optimization.” When you keep this in mind, consider how AI can enhance your customer support, inventory management and operational decisions. Added insight is always appealing to businesses – so make sure AI is something you consider incorporating into your own retail efforts in 2018. 

Tip #5: Begin Selling Online as a Way to Supplement Your In-Store Business

Good or bad, right or wrong… Brick and mortar retailers sometimes think that when they sell online, they’re selling out. Yet if you perceive your physical storefront as a warehouse space in addition to a community contribution, you suddenly open another avenue of selling inventory and thus, increasing your store sales. By selling your store inventory online, you welcome new ways to increase store revenue, reach new customers and turn-over your inventory faster. To help do this, be sure to incorporate smart shipping strategies into your online sales business – such as leaning on resources that include ShipStation and Refund Retriever – as well as managing your inventory sell-thru via a POS that integrates in-store and online sales. These efforts may take some initial time to get set up, but ultimately your reward will be welcoming increased sales opportunities. In the New Year be sure to embrace the changing habits of consumers. It’s important to stay aware of consumer expectations as the retail landscape continues to evolve – ultimately helping your store thrive in a 2018 and beyond.