“You can get all that online, too! And it’s probably much cheaper there, as well. And then they’ll deliver my order straight to my doorstep!”
These and many similar statements from customers have plunged many retailers into doubt – sometimes even into despair – and not only since the measures to combat Covid-19 were first introduced. Yet there are many opportunities for local bricks-and-mortar retailers to stand up to the big players – both online and offline. But how?
So you can take a good look ahead, what is needed is an honest look back and an appraisal of the present from a personal perspective.
1. How much have I focused on my clients in the past?
2. Did I always have enough time to give friendly, professional and appreciative purchase and product advice?
3. Does my company have a philosophy that it really epitomises and does it communicate this philosophy to its own staff with the right (training and education) measures and is it continually being developed further?
4. Does the company have a strategy that marries my online presence (including shop?) and my positioning as a bricks-and-mortar retailer in such a meaningful way that I am clearly perceived as a brand and my customers are happy to buy (more)?
Just considering and answering these four questions shows how complex retailers have to think and act today so that they don’t go under in the big pond consisting of competition, customer demands and price pressure.
And the challenges aren’t getting any less. Increased (energy) prices are leading to purchasing restraint and, at the same time, are putting pressure on one’s own sales prices. Recruiting staff in the retail sector has always been hard, not only because of the demands on working hours, but now it is being made even more difficult by wage and salary demands. High staff turnover demands constant training and further education, which devours time and money if the return on investment doesn’t take place in your own company.
The solution to all these questions requires a consistent overall strategy that, if applied consistently, encompasses all parts of the company and puts many previously adopted paths to the test with an open mind.
Let’s take multi-channel strategies and their use as an example. Naturally, in most cases, a family-run, bricks-and-mortar retail company can’t compete with large sales platforms like Amazon purely in terms of manpower. But it is precisely the personal touch on site, in social networks or on your own online platform that can generate competitive advantages if used correctly and if emphasis is placed on local proximity. “The Internet doesn’t smile” is one of the statements that I hear time and again from a successful bricks-and-mortar retailer; it’s one of his recipes for success.
Also, feel free to think about how you handle complaints or even groundless returns! How do successful companies deal with this part of their business and why is every return a chance to build customer loyalty?
Alexander Oberländer will talk about these and many other matters in the InsightsTalks. On Wednesday 5 October 2022, he will be speaking at Insights-X in Hall 10 of the InsightsArena from 2:30 to 3 p.m.
About the author:
Andreas Oberländer, who studied business administration, has been working as a trainer and coach since 2007 after extensive training and further education. He leads the YourWayUp corporate development trainer team of 25 competent sales and management trainers, each with a focus on a different industry. YourWayUp is one of the leading German companies for sales development for consumer goods in retail.