Amazon – Should Retailers be Afraid?
The retail landscape is forever changing and evolving. As Amazon prepares to enter the Australian Market, it’s important for retailers big and small to make strengths out of their weaknesses exposed by Amazon in order to survive and thrive.
Brick-and-mortar stores are not going to become obsolete anytime soon, however, retailers do need to start competing with online businesses such as Amazon.
Customers will always want to shop in physical stores as it allows them to experience the products. This is the one thing Amazon and similar online businesses can never replicate. The experience of touching, feeling and testing merchandise is still an effective reason for people to frequent physical stores. The sense of touch, taste, smell, and sight is what retailers use in order to get customers to actually buy the product.
However, not everyone enjoys this experience. A major negative against brick-and-mortar stores is convenience. Many customers are not willing to go through the effort of leaving their home, finding a parking spot, and carrying shopping bags around, especially as they know there are easier choices. This is why smart retailers and businesses need to redirect their focus on what makes their brand and store stand out, instead of trying to beat an online giant.
How Retailers Can Survive the Onset of Amazon
Provide Outstanding Customer Service: Having a professional and well trained retail sales team is paramount to any successful business. Brick-and-mortar stores will always exist as people are social by nature and enjoy the shopping experience as a leisure experience. Businesses can compete if they provide a compelling shopping experience that combines shopping and fun. If you build great customer relationships, your customers will always return.
Personalisation: Focus on who your customers are and what they want. Personalisation is key! Focus on your niche market and actually deliver value. Value builds loyalty, and loyalty results in recurring revenue. Make people feel special by greeting them, smiling often, and letting them be the first to know of your new offers. When customers walk into your store, they do so because they know there’s a real person behind the counter.
Purchase Stock Wisely: Retailers need to make wise choices when purchasing stock for their business. Rather than buy what you think might sell, do some research and purchase what you can actually sell. Don’t overwhelm your customers by providing them with too much choice as this can actually lead to lost sales as they become confused and generally buy nothing.
Faster Delivery: Consider offering same day delivery by using independent couriers, which is something online stores usually cannot do. For customers in your immediate local area, offer free delivery as an added incentive to shop in your store.
Consider Local Products: Retailers need to focus on stocking more locally produced items or uniquely distributed ones so they aren’t competing on price directly. As more people choose to shop for locally produced goods or for unique one-of-a-kind products, brick-and-mortar stores are in the best position to fill that need. Emerging designers who create these products, care deeply about their brand and want to be seen only at stores that fit their criteria.
Privacy: Customers who shop in brick-and-mortar stores generally do so privately. Unlike shopping online, there is no need for personal information to be used or tracked by websites which is a big advantage to many people. If you need to collect personal information from your customers, always assure them that any information will only be used for newsletters, store updates or promotions.
Use Social Media: Many customers tend to trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations. With this in mind, getting your social brand image right is important as it can have a significant impact on your overall business. Not only can it bring customers into your store, it will give them confidence knowing that others have had positive experiences with your business.
Key Points to Remember
- Identify all the good reasons why your customers buy from you in the first place.
- Own your products and services.
- Provide retail sales training to all employees to grow sales.
- Answer complaints quickly and effectively.
- Not everything can be digitalised.
- Take care of your customers and they will take care of you.
- Human interaction cannot ever be replaced.
- Physical stores will never die.
- As long as business owners value relationships, brick-and-mortar stores will live on.