Many entrepreneurs are drawn to the idea of being their own boss and finally having the freedom to create a schedule that’s not dictated by someone else. According to a study from 2014, it’s estimated that 14 percent of working-age Americans are starting or running new businesses. The retail industry is a highly competitive industry with nearly 4 million retail stores across the U.S.
December 2007 marked the beginning of the largest global retail recession since the Great Depression. The economy has come a long way since then, but there are still lingering effects of the Great Recession, which can be seen in consumer buying habits and preferences.
Successful retail shops in the post-recession era are catering to consumers and offering a digital buying experience that’s quick and easy. It’s necessary for companies to have a brand presence on all relevant social media platforms and to nurture the relationship with existing customers, while still building new ones. A new survey from GetResponse found almost three-fourths of small businesses plan to increase their digital marketing investments this year. Here’s where business owners plan to spend their marketing dollars:
- 59.2% Marketing and social networks
- 50% Mobile marketing
- 42.3% Email marketing
- 28.2% Video production
- 26.1% Content creation and management
- 23.2% Data collection and analytics
- 22.8% Corporate web management & development
- 15.5% Commerce experiences
- 2.5% Other
Retail shops must also focus their attention on a strong digital presence. They can accomplish that by making sure their website is showing up in search results (SEO) and by validating all their business information and accounts. Company websites should be responsive so it functions flawlessly no matter what device your consumers are using (mobile, tablet, PC/MAC). Finally, online shopping should be secure, easy, and completed in just a few steps. The more steps a customer must take to complete an action (such as a purchase), the higher your chances are of losing that customer (or a sale).
Future Trends in Retail
Like many industries, the future of retail will be shaped by a strong digital presence and new competition. As we enter 2017, here are four trends your retail business should be ready for, and how to take action:
- 1. Manufacturers and retailers are collaborating to increase profit margins for both parties.
Retailers should work towards building a strong relationship with their manufacturers by sharing customer data and offering promotions.
- 2. More technology-enabled shops will pop-up, offering a digital and interactive experience for shoppers (touch-screen technology, video displays, and digital mirrors). Largely targeting Millennials and high-income shoppers, these types of stores rival existing experiences consumers would find at a restaurant or movie theatre.
If offering a digital, in-store shopping experience isn’t something your business can afford, you can still offer a digital experience through social media channels using attention-grabbing strategies that appeal to the consumers’ senses.
- 3. Stores are shrinking or closing as consumers continue to shop online.
Evaluate the cost per retail square foot of your store to assess whether or not to downsize.
- 4. New competition will be heavily niche-focused.
Shop owners should examine their product line against new startups to ensure a strong market share and presence.
There is a lot of room for growth in the coming years for retail shops. The electronic shopping (and mail-order houses) industry is expected to grow 47% by 2024. The overall growth of the U.S. retail industry is outpacing individual retail chain downsizing and bankruptcies.