Think about it. Shoppers, employees, people everywhere today have, in the back of their minds, one defining thought. No matter where they work, where they shop, where they live, where they travel, where they eat, they always wonder "How safe will I be?"
For retailers, the Fog of Uncertainty that began in April 2020 around the pandemics keeps coming back. Just when it appeared that we were ready to "get back to life" if not "back to normal," the Delta variant has surged.
This has created more uncertainty. How willing are your customers to actually go out and shop? Even more important (to you): how willing are YOUR customers to shop with YOU?
So, here's an idea: Why not ask them? Really. Send them a short questionnaire.*
We hear it over and over. "Good business citizenship" matters to shoppers. Might Labor Day weekend be a good time to start getting the word out about your citizenship contributions?
Customers vote with their feet, their wallets, and their hearts, and increasingly choose those retailers who "do the right thing", whether it's how they source product, hire and pay employees, reduce environmental impacts, etc.
There are things that independent retailers do day in and day out, without perhaps even realizing how special they are!
Most retailers we know are "aw shucks" type people. It's charming, but, especially in today's world, your leadership can be a competitive edge! So, why keep it a secret?
Throughout the pandemics, many independent retailers successfully shed their "technology laggards" label, as they pivoted to embrace an array of digital tools.
Yet going forward, it is well to keep in mind what really matters to the customers. And it may not be more technology.
A recent survey* of more than 2,000 customers provides some interesting insights as to who shops where, why, when and how. It especially highlighted the differences between "large stores" and "smaller stores" (or as we view them, "specialty stores.")
As we follow economic indicators that particularly affect retailers, our primary focus always is consumer confidence. And the reports coming out this week give us pause.
And with it, more challenges for retailers.
You likely are aware of buy-now, pay-later (BNPL) programs, from Afterpay, Affirm, and Klarna, among others. It gained a foothold in online retail – "the hottest trend in e-commerce"– and has been especially popular in the UK and Australia. Now it's availability to many more retailers may be acceleratedwith the proposed acquisition by Square of Afterpay. It is a trend we all need to watch carefully.
Here's the deal. Once again, the retailer is the pickle in the middle. The benefits of increasing sales (and average transaction value) which are very attractive, must be weighed against the potential increases in hassle factors, particularly for your most valuable asset: your front line staff.
Ahh yes. Retail IS detail!
Time to move on from Covid, and get our minds back on retail. Focus on the merchandise. And the customers. And the results. In other words, it's time to put the fun back into retailing!
So, here are a few of The ROI's "attention to detail" reminders that you may want to have at the ready for your next staff meeting. A refreshing change of pace for everybody!