Today our interview is answered by Cathy Donovan Wagner, RETAILMavens www.retailmavens.com.
What do you think the post-COVID retail landscape will look like?
The pandemic has been challenging for most retailers, but it also really emphasized the need for the foundational skills that retailers need to be successful. Business owners who saw the opportunities within the challenges, who weren’t afraid to try new things and learn crucial skills such as inventory management, online sales, marketing and knowing your numbers, came out stronger and they’re the ones that will thrive post-COVID. Because excellent customer relationships will continue to separate the weak from the strong.
What will be the biggest problem or weakness that the physical store have to deal with?
Not having online channels for customers to shop through. Whether it’s social selling or an e-commerce website (preferably both) you have to be available where your customers are, and online selling is no longer an option – it’s a necessity. The pandemic has permanently changed our shopping habits and the successful brick & mortar retailer has to accommodate this behavioral change. But RETAILMavens are all about seeing the opportunities in the obstacles, so this doesn’t have to be a problem or a weakness – but a great chance for growth!
What role will technology play?
Thanks to technology it’s easier than ever to reach customers! Setting up an e-commerce website or social shopping channels is easier and more inexpensive than it’s ever been. And thanks to emails, texting and messaging we are able to communicate with our customers in a more personal and customized way. Independent retailers can incorporate these new tools to provide a seamless and unique shopping experience for their customers in a personalized way that big box stores and online giants will never be able to.
How will customer loyalty be achieved?
Customers have more options for shopping than ever before, and that means independent retailers must be fierce in providing a unique and personalized shopping experience – Having a strategy for serving through all marketing efforts that seamlessly integrates the customer journey, no matter where they’re interacting with their store.
That could look like a strong social media marketing strategy with a clear and consistent call to action, paired with a shopping option that allows your customer to shop with a click and a personalized follow up process to ensure a smooth experience.
Independent retailers must also be clear on who their ideal customer is, so they can speak directly to them in all their marketing efforts (online and in-store), to achieve a steady flow of new customers who love and support your store, consistent sales and traffic and brand loyalty.
Are you optimistic about the future of retail?
I 100% believe that the future of retail is bright! There is no doubt that retail can be a BIG challenge – I learned that the hard way with my own three stores. Especially so if you don’t have specific key skills necessary to succeed. I’m so passionate about the retail industry that I’ve dedicated years to helping brand new retailers set up a successful retail business right from the start, as well as helping struggling retailers turn their businesses around, because there is a science to running a successful retail business – and many independent retailers are missing this piece. And when they learn that piece of the puzzle, a whole new world of possibilities opens up for them!
What do you think about our Flame analytics tool?
It looks amazing. Not only does it energize physical spaces, it optimizes profitability too.
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