With today’s warnings from high street bell-weather, Next, on the challenging year ahead, there’s no denying that the perfect storm of economic climate, tighter spending belts from cannier consumers and shifts in the sale seasons we’ve seen as the UK embraces Black Friday, has had a knock on effect on Christmas shopping patterns and a detrimental impact on retail revenue this season.
It’s now more important than ever to have a solid January to make up any shortfall from Christmas and put good foundations in place for a successful 2017.
We’ve put together some tips for retailers to get 2017 trading off to a good start:
Do you really know who your customers are?
The key to successful retailing, is of course, acquiring and retaining the right type of customer for your business. This is, in turn, reliant on being able to identify who they are and how to attract them.
When was the last time you had a look at your transactional data to explore who your best customers actually were, what they buy from you, how often and what they actually want from your product range and marketing?
If you don’t know that now, with 2017 set to be another fierce year competing for consumer £££s, you must spend January digging into your data and learning everything you can about your customer.
Don’t market to your customers – give them a great experience!
The luxury retail trend of providing customers with a fabulous in-store experience has finally filtered onto the high street, with TopShop and John Lewis both launching in-store facilities that brought the shopping experience to life in 2016. Creating a shopping ‘environment’ isn’t a trend that is going to go away, it’s how clever retailers now ensure retention of happy customers and it’s not confined to bricks and mortar.
When you know what your customer wants from you, emulate that experience online. Is excellent customer service more important to them than price? If so, invest in live-chat, or a better presence on social channels to answer customer queries. Do your customers ask friends and family for advice before committing to a big purchase? If so, make sure your reviews are showing up in your internet search results or work with key industry influencers to give you that editorial cache.
Most importantly, do you have the right team to deliver?
Does your existing team have the skill set to cope with the shifts in consumer expectations and the cannier digital execution needed to retain them?
Digital disciplines established in silos for years; SEO, social media, affiliates and PR are seeing a convergence like never before and you may find that a team that was previously structured beautifully now has glaring gaps from those experts who can see the bigger picture of what a customer wants and have the ability to develop quick solutions to provide it.
Use January as a time to take an objective look at the team you currently have in the business and identify where you may need to skill up.
With these foundations in place, you can look forward to 2017 and coping with all the retailing challenges it throws at you.