We are in 2021 and the retail business is not working as it used to be. The digital age has pivoted business success, shining the spotlight on e-commerce. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has made staying home and shopping a priority for just about everyone.
By JORI HAMILTON
Nonetheless, you can still be successful at launching a start-up retail business in the digital age. You will simply need well-researched strategies for an omnichannel approach as you pivot your business model to meet the needs of your customers in a changing business landscape.
1. Provide exceptional customer service
The physical retail experience is one that the internet cannot emulate, no matter how close it may be.
There will always be something about going to a store, seeing items up close, and bringing home purchases on the same day. You can pick things up, try things on, and ask helpful staff questions right in the store. This last advantage, in particular, is one of the keys to keep your physical business relevant in a digital world.
Without an up-front commitment to consistently providing exceptional customer service, your startup will suffer. In the modern age, people want the community to feel that a physical space can offer. To get there, you need to elevate your customer service by making it a core business value, and then develop strategies to improve yourself every moment. Personalized shopping experiences, clean environments, and acceptance of a variety of payment methods can all play a role.
With an exceptional customer service experience, your buyers will be looking for every opportunity to visit you rather than shopping online.
2. Build an omnichannel approach
Retail alone is great, but if the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that businesses need a multi-faceted plan if they are to continue operating under adverse circumstances. To achieve sustainability, you need an omnichannel approach to your business model.
Omnichannel retail is the practice of putting customers first in your marketing efforts. It means recognizing the needs of your customers and finding ways to add value to them, and can be a mix of e-commerce and physical shopping or methods to help shoppers with the retail experience. For example, a shopper can read product reviews from a mobile app while viewing items in store.
Your omnichannel approach will depend on how your unique customer base interacts with your services. Often times, using business analysis is a powerful method to gauge the perfect balance in your omnichannel efforts. Business analysis looks like to predictive, descriptive, diagnostic and prescriptive data to formulate business information such as where the audience might be willing to engage with a digital coupon or online advertisement. With that information in hand, you can craft an omnichannel strategy that works with your audience.
3. Make your retail space where people want to be
In these days of online shopping, you need to give customers a reason to come see you. This means paying close attention to considerations such as business needs, your budget, and the appearance of the location, as well as the location itself.
Before you start your retail business, make a list of important questions about what you want your space to look and perform. What is the style of the decor? How will customers navigate the space? Are there areas of congestion or poor use of space?
You will need to ask yourself all of these questions and more when deciding on a physical location for your business. The right retail space will be warm and inviting, located in a growing neighborhood and ideally at a crossroads for driver and pedestrian traffic. Factors such as limited parking or a messy appearance could keep shoppers online.
4. Create a customer loyalty program
Customer loyalty programs are everywhere. Pretty much every business these days has a customer loyalty app or program, and for good reason. These programs encourage shoppers to return to a store and can be great ways to encourage engagement. With the rise of data and the tools available to manage it, creating these programs is now easier than ever.
Digital tools will help you create a successful customer loyalty program by bringing together customer data, allowing you to create customer profiles that more accurately capture what individual buyers want. You can use the individual data collected through a loyalty program to provide more personalized product recommendations and offers through omnichannel media. From there, you can create a hybrid approach to retail that truly makes the most of the digital age.
5. Constantly look for innovation opportunities
Finally, no modern retail business would be a worthy business without a commitment to innovate at every opportunity. This means planning for technology investments and strategic growth before you even launch your store.
Every business can thrive by experimenting and innovating at the right time. Digital marketers, for example, have had great success trying out new mediums like podcasts or getting creative with video content. When planning a successful retail space for the digital age, you especially need to be at the forefront of innovation, as your digital competitors will also try to innovate.
Invite feedback and engagement from your staff and customers as you explore the opportunities to launch and grow a successful retail business. You never know where the next big idea might be waiting for you.
Launch a retail business in 2021 and beyond
The post-COVID era will be one in which we increasingly rely on digital shopping experiences. However, the demand for in-store purchases is certainly not going to go away. Starting a successful retail business in today’s world requires the knowledge and use of modern tools as well as an efficient approach to physical business.
So improve your customer service skills by implementing omnichannel support for your startup plans. From there, take every opportunity to innovate and listen to your customers. You can build a business that is likely to survive whatever the future throws your way, but it will require a comprehensive and flexible business plan. Use these strategies when coordinating the launch of your retail space to develop a truly modern and competitive business.