The year 2021 was a challenging one for almost all forms of industries. The pandemic has brought about changes in the whole world – many of which are unprecedented. Many industries, particularly in the business sector have had to close down temporarily, and then open up again to numerous changes.
Then, pandemic or not, there are the challenges brought about inherently by the rapid growth of technology. As technology continues to get more advanced, there are always challenges that many industries will continue to face. The retail industry isn’t affected by this. However, to survive the changes and the competition, retailers need to be able to abide by these changes. The first step towards overcoming these challenges is to identify them.
That said, here are some of the common challenges faced by retailers in 2021:
1. The Force to Focus on Online Selling
Before the pandemic broke down in the later parts of 2019, online selling was already prevalent. But, for the majority, it wasn’t yet their first choice of means to go shopping. Many still preferred to go to a physical store. However, when the pandemic came, this shifted. Online shopping became the norm.
Hence, retailers were scrambling to meet this demand. From closing their physical stores, now they have to open and focus on their online store.
This is a challenge, even up to today, as not many retailers are prepared for this. The shift was so sudden that they had no time to prepare at all. But, it’s not too late, for as long as these retailers keep going and learning as they go, eventually, they’ll find that having an online retail business is advantageous to their operations.
Here are some tips to make this shift to online selling more effective:
- Ensure that your business website loads fast;
- Use good quality photos and videos of your products and services;
- Include social proof of your products and services, through testimonials, feedback, and reviews;
- Enlist in the services of an order fulfillment company such as Red Stag Fulfillment.
2. Finding Technology Solution
Moving to an e-commerce platform isn’t just about the operations of the retail shop per se. There are also the technology platforms that come alongside operating these retail businesses.
For instance, with an online business, now retail businesses will also need to have project management solutions to manage their remote employees. Then, there’s the software needed for order fulfillment and online payment portals.
These are only some of the many software or technology solutions that retailers also now need to utilize. Remember that choosing one isn’t going to be as easy as counting 1,2,3. After the loss retailers went through with a long closure, surely, they wouldn’t want to invest hard-earned company resources on a system that’ll only be complicated and expensive to use. There should be a perfect balance between cost-effectiveness and quality.
3. Increasing Need for Online Customer Support
Now that people are also spending so much of their time more at home, this also means that they’re making calls and transactions right from the comforts of their home. Whenever customers have complaints or concerns, it’s less likely for them to visit a physical shop just to have their concerns addressed.
That said, retailers are also now faced with the increasing need for more online support. It’s about offering convenience and better customer service. For instance, no matter what time of the day or when they’re making the concern on your online website, these concerns won’t fall on deaf ears. These should include email marketing, chatbots, or third-party call center company.
4. Maintaining the Current Customer Base
Retailers are also faced with the challenge of maintaining customer loyalty. This has become a tad bit more challenging now, for the very reason that customers have so many more options available to them.
So, it’s not just enough to focus on acquiring new customers, and in the process, lose your valuable, existing customers. When this happens, the retail business is just setting itself out on the road to failure.
The key to keeping your loyal patrons is to get to know them better. Give them good reasons to continue choosing your brand versus the competition. Engage with them, and reward them for their loyal patronage. For instance, it doesn’t hurt to give a discount coupon on your loyal customers’ birthday.
5. Creating New In-Store Experiences
Not all businesses are forced to close their physical stores. Eventually, the world will go back to how it used to be, and this means that business will resume as usual. Physical stores will never turn obsolete, simply because there are still many customers who prefer to take that route.
Rather than closing their store, the challenge now is to create new in-store experiences for customers. For instance, in 2021, heightened health and safety measures will still be required before entering a shop. So, retailers will need to have these health and temperature-check devices on the entrance. This should also include investing in devices like steam cleaners, disinfectants, and air purifiers.
In conclusion, most, if not all of the challenges enumerated above are all brought about by the pandemic that struck the world in 2019. Add up to that also the inherent changes, because of advancements in technology. In acknowledging these challenges, there’s better hope that retailers will be able to survive.