Retail businesses of all sizes, from mom-and-pop stores to big-box retailers, must consider the effects of the rise of the digital space on the way they do business. There’s no denying that e-commerce has radically transformed the retail landscape, and going digital isn’t a matter of if but when. In the retail industry, you either sink or swim. And if you don’t keep up with the times, your business will surely sink to the depths.
Don’t take my word for it. Just look at the slew of retail bankruptcies we’ve seen in recent years. It seems like the giants are falling one by one. 2020 alone has seen the demise of True Religion, J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, JCPenney, and even Hertz. Meanwhile, online retailers and marketplaces like Amazon and eBay have flourished despite the turbulent economy. A retail business needs to transform its model to survive in the 21st century.
Small businesses and startups, in particular, are in a unique position to take advantage of digitalization. Consumers today are more discerning than ever, and a niche store can command more attention than a faceless store in a giant marketplace. If you invest in digital tools and delivery services, you can come out ahead of your rivals.
Here are a few strategies that can help you transform your business from the ground up.
1. Improve the shopping experience
Consumers today no longer have to visit a physical store to purchase goods and services. As long as they have a mobile device and an internet connection, they can shop anywhere they want, whenever they want. If you want to understand their fast-changing behaviors better, you need to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. How do they shop?
Data will tell you everything you need. More than half of all purchases were made online in the last few years, and the numbers keep growing. 4 out of 5 customers used their mobile phones to compare prices and do research while visiting a physical store. 3 out of 5 shoppers said social media influenced their purchase decisions. You need to invest in a digital storefront to complement your physical one to survive in this new environment.
Your goal is to attract younger and more tech-savvy shoppers. They can be difficult to please, but once you’ve captured their attention, they can be customers for life. An online store offers a more personalized approach to shoppers, a key differentiator in a saturated market.
2. Focus on the customer
Shoppers giveth and shoppers taketh away. Don’t mistake a one-time boom as a sign of growing sales. You have to constantly win over your target audience with a retail experience that focuses on them. The beauty of a digital storefront is you gain access to a wealth of customer information you can use to create personalized experiences.
It’s not enough to give customers what they want. You also have to anticipate their wants and show them what they think they want. For instance, if someone buys a crib, one can assume that they might be interested in other baby paraphernalia. You can know more about your customers just by analyzing the data you collect from your online store.
3. Invest in the right tools
When it comes to digitalization, the tools you use can make or break your business. While small businesses are better positioned to respond to market changes than large companies, when it comes to tech investments, this is one area where they may want to follow the other’s lead. For starters, it’s important to partner with the right service providers for your business.
There’s always something new in e-commerce every week, and it pays to partner with companies that have a great future in that space. Embrace new tools as they arrive, and you can enjoy the benefits right away.
A final word
With all that said, you should remember that success in e-commerce isn’t just about buying new software and starting a website. All the tools in the world won’t help you if you don’t know how to use them effectively. It’s all about making data-driven decisions that make sense for your context and understanding the conditions that make sustained growth possible. If you need more guidance, you can seek the help of an expert.