There’s no denying the impact of digital disruption on the global retail landscape.
For better or worse, the rapid proliferation of highly convenient internet retail platforms has smashed traditional bricks and mortar models. For any business hoping to survive in the disruptive era, the choice is simple: adapt or risk irrelevance. For those opting for the former, embracing the digital realm is key. If your business model is unsustainable in the digital age, it’s important to act decisively to ensure businesses viability.
The question is, what does it mean for businesses based on physical products? While there is no one answer, keeping up with the ever-changing needs of customers may just be about being open to experimenting with some of the many digital technologies available to businesses today. It’s about accepting that digital is inevitable, imminent and vital to the way businesses interact and communicate with their customers.
Adding a digital string to your bow
Consider the new-age retailer conundrum: the consumer that visits a physical retail outlet in order to try, touch and feel a product before going home to order it online from another supplier. In response, businesses might consider developing or improving in-store apps that capitalise on the shopper’s presence and their need to physically interact with merchandise.
Such apps might offer exclusive deals, reviews from other customers or detailed product information, such as where it was made. It could even provide details (via a map) of a product’s in-store location, and just as critically, offer a portal through to make an actual on-the-spot purchase. Such a strategy also re-energises a key old-school shopping advantage. Rather than being swayed by the free shipping offers of many internet providers, customers can again feel excited by the possibility of walking out with their purchase immediately.
The use of data analytics is an obvious extension to this interactive approach. This information can be used to learn what customers like and to pre-empt their purchase decisions or make recommendations based on previous spending. It can even be used to create exclusive, customised offerings that they may not get elsewhere.
Back to basics
Embracing digital isn’t necessarily about needing to reinvent your business, in fact, it’s not only high-tech solutions that make a difference. Focusing on real-life social interactions can be just as significant. Working to engage with customers, to create experiences and build relationships can provide powerful incentives for them to visit a physical store.
There are also other ways to provide an experience shoppers can’t get online. For instance, businesses may consider offering more practical displays of their products in action. Providing real-life comparisons between two different brands or models to demonstrate the difference could also be a significant shopper draw card. Promoting such points of difference on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram is also a prudent strategy.
While the pressure to digitally transform is being felt by many, it is those who keep a close ear to the ground and really listen to what their customers want and give it to them which will really set them apart.