Need more evidence the retail landscape is changing? Last week Macy’s announced it’s closing 100 stores. Walmart, Kohl’s and Sears made similar announcements earlier this year.
These retailers and others know – often painfully – that customer buying habits are changing. The message is simple: Adapt and evolve to changing consumer preferences, or die.
We shared information about Infor CloudSuite Retail at Inforum, showing how new solutions bring opportunity for retailers to reengineer merchandise planning and forecasting, reshape the customer experience and remain competitive.
Not every retailer is at the same place in their brand maturity or technology stack. But in 2016, virtually every retailer should have these four strategies on their radar:
Blend mobile and traditional shopping for a unified experiences. 82 percent of customers do their homework before making a purchase and more than a third complete the transaction at a brick-and-mortar location, so why not put information in their hands before they step foot in the store? Have a mobile strategy that shows customers detailed product information, nearby locations to purchase, and inventory availability. Also think about the customer standing in the store using their mobile device to visit your website. Use the store as the central part of customer engagement and align other channels with it.
Integrate social media into your strategy. Social media is a part of daily life for consumers and brands. Make it a priority to stay current with new apps and timely content that resonates with your target audience. For example, more than 300,000 people have downloaded Pokemon Go and more than 60 percent of downloaders use it daily. GameStop has more than 430 stores with a Poke stop, and used social media to promote the locations and held events to draw gamers into the store. GameStop CEO J. Paul Raines reported sales are up 100 percent in those stores in what is typically a slow sale season.
Be open minded to new models and modes of business. Luxury retailers and department stores have employed the concession model for years, where brands buy space in an established store, and it’s also a rising trend among non-luxury retailers. Brands benefit from the prestige of being associated with a department store and have more financial flexibility than is typical with opening a standalone store. Department stores get to hang onto their customers and add excitement to the shopping experience. With trends fueling buying behavior, the concession model can get products into customers’ hands faster and more efficiently.
Improve inventory efficiency for sustainability. Planning, forecasting, and inventory optimization will help retailers operate lean and run a business that is efficient and responsive. New merchandising and planning solutions help retailers understand demand from an attribute level, including product and location. For example, how much inventory is new versus old? How many styles should be purchased and in what colors and sizes? How frequently does delivery need to occur? Upgrading merchandise financial planning technology brings visibility into current and historical performance, enabling retailers to forecast future business with greater accuracy.
Andy Cariveau is vice president Retail Solutions at Avaap and has more than two decades experience helping retailers leverage technology to execute merchandising strategies.