Last year’s eCommerce stats are quite astounding – in the UK alone, online spending topped £91billion – that’s a growth of 16% year-on-year.
With this continued online growth in mind, which has been further bolstered by the use of smartphones, retailers are currently re-strategising, trying to determine how the store now fits into the changing retail landscape.
Although eCommerce is booming, there is still an overwhelming need for the store, as is evidenced through the current good feeling on the high street and increase in multi-channel retail – a report from Southampton University commissioned by the Government’s Future High Streets Forum found clothing and footwear sales increased in town centres from 20.5% in 2007 pre-recession to 25.4% in 2013.
For some types of retail business, if showrooming hasn’t been considered at this stage, it should be now. The modern consumer is increasingly choosing to use both online and in-store channels to shop – perhaps browsing in-store first and making the final purchase online. So give your staff the tools to encourage the completion of purchases in-store – use tablets which allow in-store ordering of products that might not be available at that particular location. This also enables up-selling and the ability to move with the customer to any point in the store.
The store should be seen as a destination in its own right so employing an inspirational store design could entice more customers inside. Think about what your store offers that other don’t; consider design, layout, quirky displays and technology. Could you be the first retailer with a merry-go round in-store or could you install a dedicated chill out zone serving free refreshments? Think outside the box.
Under pinning all of this, is how the store is connected. All elements of the business must be able to communicate with each other to give a unified view of all store operations. Get this function right and the rest will follow.