Small business owners would do well to look at the methods much larger retail outlets use to turn lagging sales and profit around. Most recently, the retail giant Walmart has experienced a 9.6% sales surge and is expecting to draw over $112 billion in revenue this year. The chain of discount department stores has faced increasing competition from Amazon, as many shoppers value the mail-order giant’s responsive customer service and competitive pricing.
There’s no debate about the fact that retail and technology are merging. With the influx of e-commerce, apps, and social media touching all facets of life, retailers who are committed to success recognize that keeping up with technology is a necessity in this day and age.
But, perhaps the sharpest of retailers are doing even more than that. As Forbes Contributor Michael Jones points out, if you want to stay ahead of tech trends in retail, then think like a tech company instead of a retail company.
It’s no secret to retailers, whether large or small, that customer service has a direct and meaningful impact on the loyalty of their customer base. However, what may come as a surprise, is that in a world that is becoming increasingly less personal, one of the most important individual components of that customer service is still good, old-fashioned gratitude.
In a recent survey TD Bank polled over 1,000 consumers across the country about brand gratitude, and then compiled their answers into usable data sets that can be effectively utilized by retailers. It should come as no surprise that over three-fourths (77%) of consumers like it when retailers express gratitude. TD Bank partnered with Lizzie Post, the President of the Emily Post Institute. What did the etiquette expert have to say? “Customers know that they have a choice when it comes to where they spend their money and where they take their business,” said Ms. Post. “When a brand demonstrates genuine gratitude and respect, it builds consumer trust. And business success relies on that trust.”
With the giant that is e-commerce, retail trends are continually shifting and evolving. Things that once seemed to be common sense, are now becoming antiquated formats. An example? Major retailers like Target, Wal-Mart, and Lowes have begun to invest in smaller store space. It no longer is a matter of giving as many products as much face time as possible. Instead, retail success means creating a presence that is convenient and approachable for the modern consumer, which means the consumer with mobile device, and constant-web accessibility in hand. Here are a few reasons that point to the value of a small, well-constructed store, with a strong online presence.
1. The economy has continued to impact shopping trends.
Historically, Wal-Mart was one of the first to push towards smaller neighborhood stores. This was a direct response to a continued decline in the sales of their super stores. As the Wall Street Journal points out, they will continue this trend by forging into the world of gasoline sales, stand-alone liquor stores, as well as fortifying their online game. Before, consumers were willing to make large, expensive trips to the store. Now, shoppers often have to make more frequent, smaller trips to accommodate smaller budgets.
All over the world, we often hear about unfair business practices, including apparel companies that rely on sweatshop labor to make huge profits. Sweatshop workers across the globe are often paid substandard wages for long hours, are subject to poor and hazardous work conditions, and are oftentimes very young children.
This is not the case with Timberland. Known for their signature 6 inch tan boots, the New Hampshire based apparel company’s reputation is solid. They dedicate themselves to protecting the environment, particularly tree conservation. As part of their service to the world, they plant 15,000 trees throughout China and the Dominican Republic.