Retail: the 5 big challenges to overcome in 2021
Published on 10 December 2020
New technologies are adapting to consumer aspirations and their new demands, some triggered by the Covid-19 health crisis. In this context, what are the new challenges for retailers? How does one adapt to meeting these challenges and succeed in standing out from the competition? Here’s an overview of the 5 major challenges to overcome in retail.
Playing the proximity card
As travel has become more difficult since the Covid-19 pandemic, purchasing behavior has developed in favor of proximity. Everyone has been re-centered around their “home” and repositioned around their city, region, or country. This strong demand for proximity has, in fact, led to reconsidering points of sale as vectors of reasoned consumption.
With a broader vision, stores with local stock are able to juggle physical and digital commerce thanks to e-booking. This definitely classifies the point of sale as a phygital approach.
Diversify offers and promote quality products
From the supply perspective, the principle of marketplaces is developing more and more. With a greater diversity of products, retailers can respond more broadly to the needs of their customers: either with their own products or through a partner catalogue. Be cautious, however, and￼￼ avoid confusing customers by working with questionable or suspicious sites.
Furthermore, well-being is taken into account, pushing consumers to look for quality and eco-friendly or healthy products. This direction implies a policy of promoting quality offers, both in terms of navigating vendor sites, as well as the in-store experience.
Make the case for societal commitment
The aim here is for companies to:
- show that they favor “made in France” items,
- talk about their donations to works and associations, or their social and environmental commitment, as Nature & Découvertes does through its foundation;
- demonstrate their willingness to act in an eco-responsible manner: for example, by consolidating purchases to promote greener logistics, or by using carriers until the last kilometer capable of recycling old equipment when installing the new.
Caring for customer relationships
While the evolution of the health crisis remains unpredictable, customer loyalty has become a major issue for retailers. What was once simple to implement through almost equivalent systems becomes more complicated when wanting to stand out.
Benefits remain a loyalty tool but must be complemented by a notion of consumer ownership and involvement. To do this, retailers can:
- refine their business actions according to the consumers’ profiles;
- promote sponsorship within the network of retailers;
- allow customers to choose their rewards;
- set up one-on-one, personalized loyalty programs.
When it comes to loyalty today, it is essential to move away from the traditional “earn-and-burn” methods of awarding points to be transformed into benefits in order to move towards a more personalized relationship with customers.
Focus on support and facilitate purchases
At the point of sale, it is essential to help the customer choose their products and to offer ￼￼them the same flexibility as online sales. Online ordering is a real comfort solution for the customer. It allows ￼￼them to reserve a product on-site or from a distance, makes it available to the customer in the store or in another point of sale, informs the c￼ustomer of its availability in real time, or even have it delivered at home.
It is even possible now to link the order to a meeting with an advisor via appointment. This one-on-one meeting helps support the client in their purchase, and for the brand to work on the upsell and cross-sell axes.
In the same way, offering tutorials or workshops can also be beneficial, as Leroy Merlin does through its DIY tutorials, or Cultura teaches in its creative workshops.
Ultimately, online sales will always be successful in the end. However, a brand that is not a pure e-commerce player can gain notoriety by capitalizing on the synergy between physical and simple digital commerce. In any case, there must be no gap between the two modes of purchase, and access to offers should be totally consistent between the different sales methods.
Retailers that are able to meet customer expectations and awareness are sure to gain a commercial advantage over their competitors. Note that today’s small businesses have the same tools as the big brands to position themselves, such as vendor sites, click & collect, and e-booking. They are therefore likely to play an essential role in these new consumption patterns, demanding product quality, eco-responsibility and traceability.