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Retailers who do not grasp the
opportunities of change will not exist
in five years, but the forward thinking
retailers will exist.
A recently published Government sponsored report in
Australia revealed that in the view of the author small retail
businesses would not exist in five years. No more independent
bookshops, newsagents, garden centres or travel agents.
I can accept that we are seeing dramatic changes, but the
disappearance of sectors of retailing takes some digesting.
I was reminded of this the other day, that when I gave a
conference presentation 15 years ago I mentioned that half the
retailers in the room would not be in business in 2010. That has
proven to be the case.
I am of the view that the retailers who do not grasp the
opportunities of change will not exist in five years, but the
forward thinking retailers will exist and will have gained market
share due to a less cluttered retail scene. The changes taking
place in retailing either excite you or scare you. It is the excited
retailers who will continue to prosper while the scared ones put
their heads in the sand and hope the "good old days" will return.
I was recently asked to give a talk on retail trends to a group
of retailers in a shopping mall. The florist was one of the group
that did not attend. Prior to the workshop, when she was invited,
she told the organiser that she had been in retailing for 15 years
and what could anyone tell her. I enquired on how she was doing
and was told her business was in bad shape. She did not have a
webpage, email or even have a computer as she did not believe
in them. How am I supposed to buy a flower arrangement from
her when the only means of communicating with her is to walk
into the shop?
Bricks and Clicks
Retailing in 2011 and beyond is about 'Bricks and Clicks'.
The successful retailer will have an online presence as well as a
physical presence. There will be times when the consumer will
buy from them online and there will be times when they will buy
from them by visiting there store. The stores that I have talked
to are telling me that 'Grab and Go' is their most profitable retail
option. This is where the customer orders online and then drops
in to 'grab' the product as they pass the store.
Retailers need to understand that we do not control our
destiny, that is controlled by the consumer, as retailers we need
to get into the same 'head space' as the consumer and they are
changing their habits rapidly.
If I had mentioned twelve months ago that the majority of
your customers would carry a personal hand held computer,
you would probably have laughed at me. But, within the next five
months the majority of your consumers will be doing just that.
They may still call it a phone, but the new generation of smart
phones are, in fact, more like computers than telephones.
This brings in a completely new way or retailing and it is by
developing these opportunities that small local businesses will
Before we look at the ideas, the most important thing to
remember is that your customers want you to survive. Recent
research carried out in the UK by USwitch revealed that 97%
of Brits care about local retailers and their High Street. This
suggests that if small independent retailers do the right thing
the local community will support them.
Do the right thing
The right thing is to look at the opportunities that 'Bricks
and Clicks' retailing can offer you, it includes some interesting
opportunities that include:
[A] The Elimination of cash
Smart phone users will want to pay for items using their
phone and expect you to be geared up to deal with cashless
transactions. At the writing of this article I am aware of three
mobile payment systems. Google Wallet, Square [only in USA]
and Evolve [only in Australia]
Square already deals with 2 million dollars worth of
transactions a day. More systems for payment by mobile internet
devices will come along and retailers must be at the forefront of
[B] Promotions to individuals on their phone
The key to success is to promote to individual consumers once
they are at the store or walking past your store. Traditionally,
we have relied on shop window displays and point of purchase
signage in the store. We now have a third technique we can add
to the armour.
Groupon started in Chicago in 2008 and is growing around
the world at lightning speed. Groupon has a system where they
connect the consumer and the retailer. Walk down the street with
your smart phone on and you will receive a message of what is
being promoted at stores who have subscribed to Groupon. This
allows for one to one targeted marketing to a person who is in or
near your store.
By John Stanley
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