Retail businesses all over the globe are continuing to find trading tough. With the exception of some pop-up business models, lower footfall and rising outlet costs make survival tough. Some large businesses have responded by removing themselves from malls, retail parks, and high streets altogether. Instead, they trade solely online, distant from their customers, and with no personal face-to-face contact. While there may be many threats for retailers across every sector, there are 5 problems that exist for all:
When customers leave the store dissatisfied, you know they’re never coming back because someone in your business has let you down. But when they leave with little affection, interest or engagement in their recent experience, that is down to you as well. The problem with hiring people part-time and on minimum wage is that their input to your business will reflect their status and pay. It is essential to motivate your workforce. Ensure they deliver exception service for customer satisfaction with every visit.
Theft from customers and staff is a huge problem for retailers. The cost of insurance is high, and the cost of claiming can push it up and up. Security tags, guards, and cameras can help a great deal here. But you need to be vigilant too. If you worked in a complex retail store like liquor, you must keep track of your stock and account each bottle to a specific cashier. Liquor POS systems ensure stock is tracked and that your legal obligations for age checking are covered with each transaction. Promotions and discount vouchers can be managed more easily without holding up the check out.
Your employees do far more than serving customers and ensuring their satisfaction. They are on the ground floor, the front line, the main road in and out of your business. They know better than anyone what your customers are like and how they behave. Their insights are crucial to your business, but how often do you invite them to air them? This is critical market information. How do you stop your employees taking that information to a competitor willing to pay them a better wage?
It goes without saying that online sales are the biggest threat to real-world stores. As a culture, we have become accustomed to the isolation and convenience of online shopping. We used to expect the prices online to offer savings against the retailer’s charge. However, many stores are matching prices by carefully researching those figures daily. Indeed, some real-world stores can act and react more quickly to price sensitivity. They can offer the customer the price they are willing to pay in real time. The threat here is getting the customer off the couch and out to the store in the first place.
This will continue to rise for retailers. Rents, taxes, rates, and energy bills will inevitably go up. Even with so many units vacant, it seems unlikely that commercial property prices will dip. Perhaps the biggest cost is that lost customer when they leave the store wishing they’d never got off the couch. What can your retail business do about that?