The retail industry is under a lot of pressure. Offline retailers continue to aggressively compete with online businesses and drop-shippers.
At the same time, customers are pampered with more options, more deals, better products and services, and spotless service journeys. Positive customer experiences are essential, and retailers need to adapt to customer needs and wants faster than ever.
The need for better customer experiences is one that requires agility and focus to meet. Retailers must operate in a smarter, more efficient way to stay competitive. Revamping the retail space alone is not enough. There are additional strategies to implement to be more competitive as a retailer.
We are going to discuss four of those strategies in this article.
Cover the Basics
Before you start improving the retail operation of your business, it is important that you improve the business itself. A holistic approach towards boosting efficiency and achieving operational excellence is how you take the first step in becoming more competitive in the market.
Information technology is how you solve this challenge. IT implementation, business solutions running in the cloud, and digital tools empowering business functions can supercharge operations at a whole new level.
Computer-aided facility management software from TOPdesk is a good example. It is designed to handle asset management, reservations, visitors, and work orders or service requests. TOPdesk CAFM software helps teams inside your retail business utilize facilities more efficiently.
The same is true with the IT services management suite from the same company. TOPdesk’s experience in developing business suites and solutions like these are brought to the solutions they deliver, giving you the ability to boost efficiency from day one.
The goal is to streamline business processes and manage overhead costs. The more you can optimize these basic elements of business operations, the lower your operational costs will be, and the more competitive you will be on the market. And all of this could potentially be done with just one single management software like this quickbooks field service management which can further simplify your operational processes.
Automation is the way forward and it is now more accessible than ever. Automation lets you increase capacity without expanding your business operations. For example, a team of two purchase officers can handle hundreds – if not thousands – of POs when they are generated automatically by a system of inventory management.
Automation can only be effective when you know which tasks to automate. That is why the process of automating tasks within the business must always start with a thorough evaluation of the business itself. Find mundane and repetitive tasks to automate first, then start searching for more complex tasks to add to the list.
There are plenty of tools that can be used to help you automate your processes. The TOPdesk Facility Management Software mentioned earlier, for example, helps you to create a clear overview of your assets and gives insights in common problems reported by employees or customers about your facilities. With that overview of repetitive work and the assets involved, you can start creating knowledge items to increase customer self-service. You can use these knowledge items at any place, such as on your PoS webpages.
Integration of multiple solutions and services like Zapier – services designed to bridge the gap between different business solutions – makes automation even more accessible. Instead of relying on a limited set of tools for automating tasks, you can tap into a bigger toolbox and automate cross-platform tasks. The rest is easy from this point.
Understand (and Focus on) the Customers
One particular mistake you want to avoid when trying to be agile as a retailer is trying to serve many market segments at once. While this used to be a great approach for growing your market reach, it is no longer the right approach for retail businesses who want to stay lean and agile. Focus is what’s needed here.
When you focus on a handful of market segments or customer groups, you gain some extra competitive advantages. For starters, you can learn more about the market segment down to the last detail without spending excessive resources on doing research. The more you know your customers, the more you can tailor your customer journey.
Focus also lets you apply some level of personalization to the customer journey, all without putting too much stress on the business itself. Combined with automation tools and unified business solutions, personalization becomes easier to implement. After all, you know how to pamper your target customers.
As an added bonus, you also gain the ability to simplify your inventory and business processes. Instead of offering items that customers don’t really like, you can restructure your inventory based on market insights. It will not be long before you start using predictive models and AI to determine the right inventory levels to maintain at different times of the year.
Evaluate and Refine
That brings us to our fourth strategy: refine. Improving agility in retail is a continuous process rather than a one-time transformation. You cannot expect to make these changes and lead the market afterward. You have to adapt and keep up with market changes to stay ahead of the competition; that is what being agile really means.
Constant evaluation should be a part of your business processes. Don’t wait until one big cycle is completed before doing reviews of your internal workflows. Instead, integrate constant monitoring to give yourself an edge. When you monitor KPIs and performance metrics continuously, you gain the ability to adapt to market changes at an incredible rate.
When an inventory item doesn’t sell as well as anticipated, for instance, you can react quickly and stop additional purchases of that item. You can then make adjustments to the way the item is sold (and new ones are ordered) to limit costs. The same insight allows you to run promotional campaigns and boost sales for the right items.
Customers are kept happy, the business remains efficient, and you stay on top of the challenges facing your retail business, all with the help of constant monitoring and evaluation.
Retail may be a challenging industry right now, but you have the necessary resources and tools to lead the market. The strategies we discussed in this article will help you utilize the resources you have in a more efficient way. These strategies are the ones to implement if you want to gain a substantial competitive advantage on the market.