How Retailers can Remain Competitive during Turbulent Times

Management consultant, blog writer, dreamer

Many retailers find it difficult to remain competitive during times of turmoil. The traditional way to compete is not working and retailers are looking for new ways to survive.

“It is in the turmoil of chaos that we discover what, if anything, we are” – Orson Scott Card.

Being competitive the traditional way

The traditional way for retailers to be competitive is well known.  The best location, the lowest prices, the best trained staff, the best stock and the longest trading hours were adequate to survive and grow.  The list below shows how the face of retail has change over the past century.

The changing face of retail:

  • 1900 – the local corner shop;
  • Up to 1940 – department stores and general merchants;
  • 1940 to 1970 – enclosed malls and mass retailers;
  • 1970 to 1990 – value players, club stores and category killers;
  • 1990 to 2008 – eCommerce;
  • 2008 to present – multi-channel retailing.

The change that retailers had to face between 1900 and 1990 were gradual and was the result industrialization and urbanization. The digitization of the retail industry has however revolutionized the rules and economy of retail and resulted in turmoil.

The turmoil in retail is not necessary bad. Retailers should see it as an opportunity to reinvent themselves, by using the new rules of the industry to their advantage.

Competing in the digital economy

The digital economy helps level the playing field so small retailers can more effectively compete in markets that were previously inaccessible. However, if Bricks and Mortar retailers don’t participate in the digital economy, their businesses will stagnate and decline. You therefore need to be part of the digital economy in order to enjoy its rewards.

Here are two ways for Bricks and Mortar retailers to get their sales back on track:

Create an eCommerce website

An eCommerce website will allow retailers to be found online and to do business anywhere. The Bricks and Mortar retailers are now Bricks and Clicks retailers and can cater for customer in their shop as well as in the digital world.

Create a digital experience for your customers inside your physical store

Most customers that visit Bricks and Mortar retailers are using mobile phones to get product info and compare prices. Retailers can beat their competitors by making it easy for their customers to go online in their shops:

  • Offer a free Wi-Fi service;
  • Place internet access points at places where technical detail and prices comparison are important for customers;
  • Introduce a ‘click and collect’ system at your shop. Customers can order and pay their products online and then collect it at the shop.

By adding the online channel to you retail business and setting up digital gadgets in your shop, you have entered the digital economy.  Maybe the turmoil of the industry has helped you to discover what your business is about…

A well researched and written Business Plan helps to get your business started the right way.

More to read: Crossing the digital threshold – adding Clicks to Bricks for sustainable retail outcomes

Image: Wosociety.org

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Douw G Steyn

Douw G Steyn

Management consultant, blog writer, dreamer

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