Is there a retail apocalypse you should worry about for your retail store, or is it all hype? It’s true that retail has changed significantly with the rise of online shopping, and many retailers of all sizes, from small, independently owned shops to international chains, have closed in recent years. But if you’re willing to adapt, your business can continue to thrive.
Online Shopping and the Retail Apocalypse
The retail world has always been competitive, and that’s truer than ever with the rise of e-commerce. Your main competitors used to be stores selling similar products in the same area as you. Now you’re also competing with online shops that can have those same products delivered to people’s doors even if they’re nowhere near you. Online shopping is a convenient option that many people prefer, especially younger generations. Many of these teens and young adults also influence their parents to give online shopping a try.
Brick-and-mortar stores still have a strong future despite competition from online retailers. Even with many stores closing, many new stores open in their wake. What the internet has done is accelerate how quickly stores open and close. You need your store to remain relevant to consumers for it to survive, which requires joining the e-commerce world and delivering a great in-store experience.
Taking Your Store Online
Considering the growth of online spending, taking your retail store online can set you up for long-term success. Otherwise, you’re ignoring a huge market of potential customers. Selling online means you can suddenly reach people in different provinces or even different parts of the world if you ship internationally. You become a contender among all the other stores already selling online in your niche.
Building an e-commerce site doesn’t have to be complicated. If you want the simplest solution, you can use an e-commerce platform to get your site up and running quickly. Many platforms integrate with QuickBooks to effortlessly sync information for accurate records and inventory management. While you can have employees handle order fulfillment if the volume isn’t too high, you may want to work out a plan with your suppliers to have them fulfill your online orders for you when sales volume increases.
One feature to consider on your site is the option to buy a product online for an in-store pickup. Many customers appreciate the convenience of placing an online order and picking up their purchase that day instead of waiting for delivery. This option gives your local customers an added convenience that sets you apart from competitors and gives them the best of both worlds.
Improving the In-Store Experience
Brick-and-mortar stores have their advantages over e-commerce sites, and it’s important to make the most of them. Since customers can’t try before they buy when they’re shopping online, giving them the opportunity to interact with your products in your store can make your shop more appealing. Instead of just displaying products and putting the emphasis on sales, focus on creating an enjoyable customer experience. You might set out samples to let customers try products or host open houses where you sample your products periodically.
Train your staff so they know your products inside and out and can make helpful recommendations. Online shopping is typically about finding what you want, buying it, and getting on with your day. While your brick-and-mortar store may not be able to match the convenience of an online store, it can make shopping more fun. You also have the chance to build personal connections with your regular customers, which is easier with well-trained staff members who understand the importance of those connections.
Offering Competitive Products and Services
Surviving in the small business world means keeping your products and services competitive. Depending on what you sell, staying competitive may mean offering a lower price, building in extra features, or offering a new spin on an established product.
Your first step is to identify what your competitors are doing and find ways to do it better. Spend time collecting information about your competition’s strengths and weaknesses. If customers complain that the competition charges too much for a product, find ways to cut costs so you can lower your prices. Look into switching wholesalers, negotiating new contracts, or changing up your packaging to offer a lower retail price.
Extra features are a great way to put yourself ahead of the competition. These can be as elaborate as new software features or as simple as a built-in warranty, technical support, or a satisfaction guarantee. If your product or service leaves room for innovation, look into implementing a new twist that brings in customers. Maybe your competitor sells soy candles, and you have access to a unique coconut-soy blend with a stronger fragrance. Market your new product as a quality alternative to your competitor’s. No matter which strategy you use to stay ahead of the competition, make sure you’re continually monitoring your product’s performance and that of your competitor’s. A regular competitive analysis and the ability to adapt are crucial to any business’s success.
The rise of online shopping doesn’t have to mean the end of your retail store. By getting into e-commerce yourself and creating an in-store experience that customers love, you can stay ahead of the game so you don’t have to worry about surviving the retail apocalypse. E-commerce platforms that integrate with QuickBooks make it even easier. 4.3 million customers use QuickBooks. Join them today to help your business thrive for free.