Global retail sales have continued to shift more and more online, and the pandemic’s repercussions are making “the future of retail” a present-day reality. Brands and retailers need to meet these consumer expectations and build the operational ability to sell to their customers wherever they choose to shop.
As retailers prepare for this shift, there are five things that should be considered to ensure success in retail’s new normal.
1. Build a Multichannel Strategy
The expectation of the modern consumer is to be able to shop on any channel they choose: marketplaces, websites, social media, in-store, etc. — this is what I call the Effortless Economy. Brands and retailers, therefore, need to meet these consumer expectations and build the operational ability to sell to their customers wherever they choose to shop: A concept Linnworks calls Total Commerce.
The Total Commerce vision includes establishing a core technology platform that allows a business to sell products to their customers wherever they shop, automating processes like inventory management so that a company can optimize sales, and finally capturing the data that an organization needs to empower retailers to make the best decisions for their business.
2. Embrace Marketplaces
Marketplaces are where many of us start first when shopping online. Marketplaces are the experts at driving traffic, and it’s important to integrate and align with your business strategy. By integrating all platforms, not just Amazon and eBay, but others including Wayfair, Zalando, Fruugo, Wish, etc., organizations can continue to improve their total commerce experience.
3. Click and Collect (BOPIS)
Click and collect is a concept that continues to gain momentum — especially considering the pandemic. Shoppers want to be able to purchase items online and pick them up in-store (BOPIS).
This merging of e-commerce and bricks and mortar is a multichannel strategy-must, and certainly a part of the Total Commerce concept. This allows for flexible shipping and returns strategies in order to make the process frictionless. Customers ultimately want convenience — which is a direct benefit of click and collect.
4. Go Direct-to-Consumer
Direct-to-consumer (DTC) is on the rise and retail is being squeezed — the pandemic has only accelerated that. Utilizing DTC as a strategy allows businesses to build direct relationships with consumers for personalization and shopping options that directly serve customers, enabling brands to differentiate through customer experience and build customer loyalty. DTC, from exclusive offers to early access, if done right, enables brands to better understand and better serve their customers.
5. Adopt New Solutions
There are many different solutions that can be helpful in building a successful retail experience. For example, there are products, similar to NearSt, that allow businesses to list retail-store inventory levels on Google.
Products like NearSt help consumers find the nearest location where they can purchase specific products. In adopting these types of solutions, and others, businesses can remove friction and increase convenience, meeting customers where they are.
Customer expectations have evolved, and in order to achieve the frictionless experience of the Effortless Economy shoppers desire, brands will have to meet consumers where they are by building a multichannel strategy, offering flexible purchase and pickup options, embracing marketplaces, adopting new solutions, exploring how to reach consumers more directly, everywhere they choose to shop.
Callum Campbell is CEO of Linnworks.