Written by Shawn Cox
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the retail industry is steadily growing. One estimate shows that in 2021, retail sales will exceed $4.44 trillion across more than a million ecommerce and brick-and-mortar US stores. Consumers are shopping, and retailers who put the right products in front of the right buyers can see substantial success. How do brands secure a win in today’s market? Here are 9 key factors of a great retail strategy.
9 Strategies Retailers Need to Win in Today’s Market
- 1. Unique brand position
In today’s crowded market, high-quality goods and services are table stakes. Savvy retailers go a step further to uniquely position their offering so that consumers know what sets them apart. How is your brand relevant, and why does it matter to customers?
Retail turns on a value exchange. Businesses provide goods and services, and if those offerings add value to the customer, they provide information, money, loyalty, and advocacy in return. Identify your target audience’s pain points in the shopping mission and clearly communicate how you solve their problems through a frictionless experience and make their lives better.
- 2. Customer insights
In order to build new audiences, target high-value customers, deliver personalized customer experiences, and understand purchasing behaviors, develop an insights-driven strategy supported by a real-time data analytics solution.
Establish a direct link with your customers, building rapport over time. This connection will help you test and validate new product and service offerings as well as create an audience that’s ready to buy when it’s time to launch. Be sure to incorporate a feedback loop into your customer experience and mine that data for trends and themes that arise.
Seek to build a trusting, mutually beneficial relationship with your customers. Be reliable in your communication, authentic in your quest for feedback, and transparent about incorporating that feedback. You’ll gain priceless insights, which will make your customers happier, which will strengthen your relationship with them, which makes them more willing to provide insights: it’s a virtuous cycle.
- 3. Broad market reach
Growing your business means growing your audience. As you develop your retail strategy, think about how you’ll intersect with your ideal customer. Make yourself accessible; show up where your target audience is already spending time so that they can find you easily. If your demographic uses one social media platform more heavily, for example, target your marketing efforts there.
Honing in on your audience and building your presence where they already are will help you grow market reach faster than trying to be everywhere for everyone. Customers need to see your message many times before it makes an impact, so consistency is key.
- 4. Top quality product and service suites
It’s much simpler to sell to an existing customer than a brand new one. Developing a suite of offers that shoppers can choose from will help build lifetime customer value (LTV) and grow your business over time. Curated collections with iconic products and best-in-class services can help bring you repeat business year after year.
Bombas, the sock company, offers a masterclass in this model. They started with a simple goal: Become a category killer for socks. They focused on quality first, then design, then market strategy. Once the business grew and they built a reputation for making great socks, Bombas expanded and scaled to incorporate new product lines. They quickly went from small retail startup to multimillion-dollar company.
- 5. Personalized customer experiences
With all the different stimuli, options, mediums, and content available today, retailers continuously search for better ways to engage with potential customers. One of the most successful marketing technology strategies they can leverage is personalization.
Personalization is the highly effective process of tailoring customer communication and experiences for specific individuals. 90% of customers find marketing personalization appealing, and 86% of marketers have seen their business results improve due to personalization campaigns. Personalization keeps customers engaged and eager to choose your business when they’re ready to shop.
Personalization spans the entire retail buyer’s journey, from in-store shopping to retargeting in online advertising to email and text messaging to website user experience. Consider how to craft an experience that stays with customers before, during, and after a sale.
- 6. Concept to consumer-driven marketing
Meaningful marketing is the way forward. Modern consumers want to know how your products and services can enhance their everyday lives and align with their values.
Many retailers fail to see the importance of developing marketing technology and sales strategies in conjunction with product design. The traditional approach, in which product and marketing departments worked in silos, misses an opportunity to attract lifetime customers in today’s values-driven marketplace.
REI is an excellent example of a company that puts meaningful marketing front and center. Instead of the usual Black Friday discounts, they run a “get outdoors” campaign and close their stores.
This concept perfectly aligns with their brand identity; REI’s mission is to get everyone moving and out into nature—and they just so happen to sell the clothes, tools, and gear you might need to thrive in the great wide open. Their “get outdoors” campaign consistently boosts sales and gets people talking about their company during the busiest shopping season of the year.
- 7. Scalable, sustainable supply chains
Never has the term “time is money” been more apt. Modern retailers have an imperative to quickly deliver high-quality, sustainably-made product suites that scale easily.
The pace at which you deliver products and services is critical. In the past, it took 20-24 months to bring a product to market; today, the most successful companies have shortened that timeline to just 4-5 months.
Agility is oxygen in this environment, and retailers gain a competitive advantage if they can quickly respond to market trends and shifts in consumer behavior. Initiatives like supply chain consolidation and a focus on efficiency can help increase speed to market.
If speed and sustainability can work in tandem, so much the better. Millennial and Gen Z customers are increasingly interested in where and how products are made and shipped. Factors like materials, labor, and climate impact matter to these generations. Nearshoring—transferring production to a nearby country instead of a distant one—is a great way to aid sustainability efforts while getting products to consumers quickly.
- 8. Passionate top talent
The employee experience is vital to the success of delivering your differentiated customer experience. Hiring, building, and nurturing a team of dedicated and motivated professionals will help your company hit ambitious business goals. Sourcing people to fill knowledge and experience gaps can make your organization stronger, faster.
Creating a healthy and safe work environment where people feel supported and empowered to do their best work is critical, as is hiring talent that aligns with your vision and values.
While you can usually train people to build your products and deliver your services, you can’t always teach passion and engagement. Build a team committed to excellence and success, and you’ll have a key ingredient to helping your organization thrive.
- 9. Tech infrastructure
Retail technology is advancing rapidly, and brands should leverage the highly effective systems hitting the market. Omnichannel strategy offers access to new markets, channels, capabilities, processes, and business models.
From ecommerce platforms to point of sale systems, warehouse management to personalization platforms and Martech stakes, each interconnected piece of a retailer’s tech stack is integral to an experience that keeps customers coming back for more.
Modern tech platforms make these initiatives possible, but they must be backed by strong processes and well-trained team members to be effective. Make sure you have a robust and adaptive tech infrastructure to leverage the capabilities of your new technology—and the data it provides.
As shopping trends shift around the globe, retail strategy continues to evolve. It can be challenging to know what part of your plan to focus on next. Sophelle’s team of consultants works closely with clients to uncover new opportunities and create a cost-effective, high-performing, capabilities-based approach tailored to each retailer.