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Six Retail Experts Share Their Insight on How to Excel in Commerce

August 8, 2018

Running a successful retail business is a balancing act and to be successful you need to be able to juggle multiple demands with surprising twists and turns at any minute. From balancing financial accounts to identifying in-store merchandising strategies and more, it’s fair to say a retailers’ work is never done. It goes without saying that this can get often be overwhelming… yet when you allow yourself time to slow down, evaluate your business and welcome expert insight, things suddenly do not have to feel so overwhelming.

To help keep your store relevant in an increasingly competitive retail industry, consider the below 6 tips on how to excel in commerce from leading business experts.

#1.Think of Your Business as Providing a Service Instead of Just Selling Products

“Being in tune with your shoppers’ needs and preferences will help inform every business decision you make including choosing what products to stock, where to advertise, and what type of above-and-beyond extras would mean the most to your specific customers.”

“For example, Saltwater, an independent mommy & me boutique will gift wrap purchases for busy mom customers and deliver the packages to shoppers’ doorsteps after closing for the day. Groove, a children’s boutique, has a service where kids can set up a gift registry before their birthday party ensuring correct clothing sizes while preventing duplicate gifts and returns. Any retailer can sell the latest trends, but shoppers most appreciate thoughtfulness and a great experience.”

Meaghan Brophy, Editorial Director, Independent Retailer

#2.  Understand Your Customer and Focus on Their Unmet Needs

First of all, “Take a deep breath. There is no retail apocalypse. Retail numbers in the U.S. are really strong, with the best Q1 numbers in four years, and Canada’s retail industry continues to post year-over-year growth month after month. Consumers continue to shop.  Just not always the way they used to.”

Then, “Get your team together in a room with a whiteboard. On the vertical axis write ‘Relevant to our Customer,’ on the horizontal axis write ‘Differentiation.’ Stop working on anything in the bottom right quadrants, get wildly effective at the elements in the top left, and promote/create/enhance what falls into top right – that is your retail Zen point.”

Finally,Focus on what’s happening in your store. No matter how skilled, creative & relentless your marketing team is at driving store traffic, flat to declining footfall in your stores is not a short-term trend.  That doesn’t mean in any way they won’t die trying… but turn more of your time and treasure to optimizing the selling experience and get those in store conversions up. Simply stated, make more happen with the folks already in your store. Organically retailers are already reporting higher conversions, as omni-consumers research online and arrive at your store with elevated levels of intent. Now take that intent and invest on enhanced tools and training for your associates, leverage state-of-the art traffic and movement analysis, make your product displays ‘Instagrammable’ and lastly remove any barriers (real or perceived) to an awesome omni-channel shopping experience.”

Michael LeBlanc, Senior Retail Advisor, Retail Council of Canada

#3. Your Store Has to Be Different to Stand Out and Attract Customers

“We hear the words ‘in-store experience’ bandied around a lot, but in many stores that just means good customer service. A true in-store experience is much more than friendly associates selling stuff – it’s all the cool and wonderful things that happen while you are there that you can’t wait to tell your friends about. Great in-store experiences thrive on word of mouth.”

“One of the things retailers need to do is consistently run in-store events and promotions. And by events and promotions we don’t mean running a weekly sale – that’s a given.

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