It’s 2021, and retail isn’t performing quite like it used to. The digital age has pivoted commercial success, turning the spotlight on e-commerce. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic made staying at home to shop a priority for just about everyone.
By JORI HAMILTON
Nevertheless, you can still be successful in launching a startup retail business in the digital age. It will just take well-researched strategies for an omnichannel approach as you pivot your business model to meet the needs of your customers in a changing commerce landscape.
1. Provide Exceptional Customer Service
The physical retail experience is one that the internet cannot emulate, no matter how close it might get.
There will always be something to the act of traveling to a store, viewing items up close and personal, and taking purchases home the same day. You get to pick things up, try things on, and ask questions to helpful staff right there in the store. This last benefit, in particular, is one of the keys to keeping your physical business relevant in a digital world.
Without a commitment from the beginning to constantly provide exceptional customer service, your startup will suffer. In the modern age, people want the community feeling that a physical space can offer. To get there, you need to elevate your customer service game by making it a core company value, then developing strategies to improve at every turn. Personalized shopping experiences, clean environments, and acceptance of diverse payment methods can all play a role.
With an exceptional customer service experience, your shoppers will look for every opportunity to visit you rather than shop 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 multifaceted plan if they are to keep operating in adverse circumstances. To achieve survivability, you need an omnichannel approach to your business model.
Omnichannel retailing is the practice of putting customers first in your marketing efforts. It means recognizing what your customers need and finding ways to bring added value to them, and can be a blend of e-commerce and physical shopping or methods to assist shoppers in the retail experience. For instance, a shopper might read product reviews from a mobile app while looking at items in-store.
Your omnichannel approach will depend on the ways your unique customer base interacts with your services. Often, using business analytics is a powerful method for gauging the perfect balance in your omnichannel efforts. Business analytics looks at predictive, descriptive, diagnostic, and prescriptive data to formulate business insights like where audiences might be willing to engage with a digital coupon or online ad. With these insights in hand, you can craft an omnichannel strategy that works with your audience.
3. Make Your Retail Space a Place People Want to Be
In the days of online shopping, you need to give customers a reason to come to you. This means paying close attention to considerations like business needs, your budget, and the appearance of the location, as well as the location itself.
Before you launch your retail business, make a list of important questions regarding what you want your space to look like and achieve. What is the style of the decor? How will customers navigate the space? Are there areas of congestion or poor utilization of the space?
You’ll need to ask yourself all these questions and more as you make the decision on a physical location for your business. The right retail space will be warm and inviting, located within a growing neighborhood, and ideally at a crossroads of driver and pedestrian traffic. Factors like limited parking or a messy appearance could keep shoppers online.
4. Create a Customer Loyalty Program
Customer loyalty programs are everywhere. Just about every company these days has some form of customer loyalty app or program, and for good reason. These programs encourage shoppers to return to a location and can be excellent ways to encourage engagement. With the rise of data and accessible tools for managing it, building these programs is now easier than ever.
Digital tools will help you create a successful customer loyalty program by collating customer data, allowing you to craft customer profiles that more accurately capture what individual shoppers want. You can use individual data collected through a loyalty program to offer more personalized product recommendations and deals through omnichannel mediums. From here, you can build a hybrid approach to retail that truly makes the most of the digital age.
5. Constantly Look for Opportunities to Innovate
Finally, no modern retail business would be a worthwhile endeavor without a commitment to innovate at every opportunity. This means planning for tech investments and strategic growth before even launching your store.
Every business can thrive by experimenting and innovating at the right times. Digital marketers, for instance, have had great success by trying out new mediums like podcasts or getting creative with video content. When planning for a successful retail space in the digital age, you especially need to be on the frontlines of innovation because your digital competitors will be attempting to innovate, too.
Invite feedback and engagement from both your staff and your customers as you explore opportunities to launch and scale a thriving retail business. You never know where the next great idea might be waiting.
Launching 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 shopping certainly will not disappear. Launching a successful retail business in today’s world requires awareness and utilization of modern tools alongside an effective approach to physical business.
So, enhance your customer service skills as you implement omnichannel support to your start-up plans. From there, take every opportunity to innovate and listen to your customers. You can build a business that is liable to survive whatever the future might through your way, but it will take a thorough and flexible business plan. Use these strategies as you coordinate the launch of your retail space to develop a truly modern and competitive company.