Planning for Higher Retail Success

Cut-throat competition in the Retail Industry today has caused increasing difficulty for retailers to survive in the new economy. For retailers to be successful, they must have revolutionary thinking. This type of thinking involves a desire to embrace change within their organization. Changes include a more focused approach to strategic planning, advanced marketing skills, and a stronger customer focus.

The Internet has given a huge opportunity for retailers. It offers a way to grow an existing retail business and increase exposure to that marketplace. Retailers of any size can appear even more successful on the Internet with an effective service and sell site. The Internet offers e-commerce opportunities to grow an existing business on the Web. To keep up with the growing trend, retailers’ websites must be updated frequently to reflect new merchandise and special offers.

Marketing skills are very important to compete on the Internet. Marketing on the Web is much different than in a brick and mortar location.  Information is the key element in successful Internet marketing.  Retailers must offer invaluable information and build a strong trust with the viewer before they will feel comfortable going to the order form and purchasing online.  Navigation is also extremely important for a site to be effective.  Viewers must be able to find what they are looking for within three easy clicks.  If not, they will quickly become frustrated and leave that site forever.

Retailers must also fully utilize a customer database, regularly updated and containing customer’s buying preferences (History). This will be their opportunity to draw those customers into the stores for specials that will appeal specifically to them. Connecting with customers via Internet or SMS will save thousands of marketing dollars by using e-mail as another form of direct mail to a customer base. E-mail is direct mail without printing or stamps.

Customers Are the Driving Force in Change
With two-income families, busier schedules and less time to shop retailers must also offer more convenience than ever before.  Everyone is multi-tasking today as if it were some new learned skill.  It is becoming harder for people to find time to shop in a leisurely manner. Excellent customer service of the 21st Century is all about offering more convenience and education to customers.  Customers will continue to shop where it is most convenient to their needs and lifestyles. Retailers may want to offer added convenience by extending their hours of operation, improving their website purchasing or by speeding up checkout lines. This investment in customers will yield more sales and greater loyalty. Retailers must encourage their sales people to get more personal with the customer by spending more time listening and tuning into each customer as an individual. Retailers must understand that they are selling more than merchandise; they are offering a shopping experience. This experience may offer the opportunity to learn or socialize or to be entertained, but it will definitely be more than a simple store purchase.

Re-evaluating Your Marketing Plan
Along with the growing competition, both on and off the Web, advertising prices will continue to rise. Retailers will stand out as leaders and authorities in their market by adjusting their advertising to focus on the benefits of a changing customer base.

Advanced Education for Retailers Is Critical For Growth
Innovative retailers have discovered that to improve and adjust to changes quickly within their environment, they must continue to learn and become cutting-edge to move ahead of their competition. Attending seminars, meeting other retailers, and learning from both will add the competitive edge to keep on top of the latest marketing trends, sales skills, and new business strategies within the changing industry.

Staying Ahead of the Competition with A Brand
Retailers, small and large, must build a strong brand identity and catch praise that makes their business stand out from the competition. The number-one reason people buy from a specific business is because they feel confident about a particular product or service.  People come to trust a brand and they buy based upon that trust.  Strong branded logos and catch praises must appear on all marketing materials in a consistent manner.

Strong Visual Recognition
Retailers today must take on a new focus to be successful since visual marketing has become increasingly important to drive more sales. It is extremely important for retailers to learn how to focus on their customers’ needs and begin to see their businesses through new eyes – their customers’ eyes.  To build an effective business image, retailers must be aware of all the details that make up an overall consistent and effective image. Prospective customers begin to scrutinize every detail of a business, from a retailer’s business card, displays, and employees or directly on their website.

Planning for success
To survive in retail you must begin to plan for the evolution and shifts in the industry. To become successful you must first have a strong marketing plan and revolutionary thinking. Strategic planning, which is a combination of strategic thinking and long-range planning, is key to planning for success. It can be a retailer’s blueprint to achieving the goals and plans for future growth.