by. Mark Nelms
We talk to store owners every day. Not only do they have the typical issues of running a business, like gaining new customers, staffing, and paying the bills; they have become increasingly worried about a new player in their space, Amazon. Today I am going to share with you some key factors to implement in the business that will give you the competitive edge in today’s ever-changing the technologically empowered buyer-based landscape.
Top 5 Reasons People Shop at Stores vs. Online
According to IHL, a global research and advisory firm for the retail and hospitality industries, the top 5 reasons people shop at stores vs. online are:
Step 1: Having Accurate Inventory Visible Online
The very first time I used Amazon is not very different from a lot of my friends, family, and clients. It went something like this. I finally have time to go to the store and get an item I’ve been needing. I google it and find that it’s sold at a store about 15 miles away, according to GPS that’s about a 30-minute trip. I get in my car, drive through traffic, get to the store, only to find out that they are out of it, and might not have come in until next week. While there I “Googled” it, again. In doing so I found out that Amazon could have it to my door in 48 hours. I pressed a button and drove home. Has this ever happened to you, or one of your customers? In a recent study “Amazon Prime members are 71% more likely to purchase an item online that they initially planned to purchase in a store if they experience an out of stock.” This statistic speaks volumes on how important it is to keep an accurate inventory, but also how important it is to make that inventory visible online.
Step 2: Training Your Staff to Better Educate Your Customers
20% of the people that shop at your store vs online do so because they want to touch and feel an item or would like to get expertise from one of your staff before buying. Since that is the case it is critical that you always have trained staff on the floor. Before you say it, I completely understand how you feel. With wages increasing, and what feels like a dwindling pool of qualified labor, how are you supposed to be able to accomplish this? The answer is easy, technology. Have you ever been to a store where the employees have iPads or tablet PCs? The ability for an employee to look up Items, substitute-items, their locations, Customer History, and even their Customer Profiles could literally be at your employees’ fingertips.
Step 3: Create a Quick and Insightful Shopping Experience
23% of the people that shop in stores vs online need it now, while 11% do so for convenience. So why not make their shopping experience quick and easy. Make sure your store is set up for success by creating an easy to follow flow for your customers. This can include the layout of the store, easy to read signs that tell people where to go for what, quick checkout lanes or even self-checkout, informational kiosks or a concierge at the front of the store, and finally, Buy Online Pick Up in Store (BOPIS.) If you do not plan to implement at least one of these, then you will fail to reach an ever-growing market of Amazon Prime Members.
Step 4: Have an Optimized application-aware SD Network
When I was growing up my dad owned a bingo hall. Inside of the bingo hall, he had a little concession stand. He always told me the restaurant was not to make money, but for convenience. If the customers were happy, they would stay in the hall and be better customers. Twenty years have passed, and nothing has changed. Customers still want concessions, but now those concessions are internet connectivity and access to information. The best way to provide BOPIS, Click and Collect, Ship from Store, Tech-Enabled Employees, AND a reliable customer network is through having an optimized application-aware SD Network. According to IHL using an application-aware SD-WAN can help provide sales gains that are as much as 41% higher.
Don’t Ignore the 700 Billion Dollar Elephant
Amazon is growing more every day. They continue to add more products and incorporate new revenue streams. At one point, fewer than 10% of households had an Amazon Prime Membership. Now more than 55% of Americans have at least one Amazon Prime Member in their home. Tony Robbins once said, “Change is inevitable. Progress is optional.” You as a business owner, have the opportunity to embrace progress and stay viable in today’s economic landscape, or fight change and fade away into retail obscurity.
If you would like to learn more about ways you can increase your revenue, decrease your costs, or create a better customer experience.
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Click here if you would like to download the IHL White Paper “Prime Challenge: How Amazon Prime has changed retailing“.
Mark Nelms is a Business Development Manager for Pet Rewards POS. He has conducted over 400 interviews with retailers from almost every vertical and size. In prior roles, he’s assisted clients like Cumberland Packaging Corporation (Sweet N’ Low), The New England Patriots, and NCR (National Cash Register.)