The past year has brought many trials and troubles for the retail industry. It has proven to be a difficult time for both the retailer and consumer with constant changes and uncertainty throughout from the fall in inflation to the reduction in consumer spending.
But how exactly has the retail industry changed and transformed within the past twelve months? Today we’re looking back on this eventful year in UK retail and we’re out to answer one main question that may be on your mind: ‘What can I do to adapt my business for 2019?’
2018 – A Difficult Year for Retailers
It’s obvious that 2018 has been a transition period with political uncertainty and the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation. This year has come with surprising challenges as pressure mounts due to consumer spending gradually declining throughout the year. Inflation appears to have fallen but similarly so has wage growth. Constant pressure is being put on the consumer which appears to impact spending confidence.
The grocery market reported that growth has slowed to the lowest level in almost two years. Consumers have benefited from the grocery markets fall in inflation however this has had a knock on effect on the market‘s growth. A growing online food market appears to be the main source of concern for many retailers. In the first half of 2018, online retailers experienced a growth ten times more than store sales. This means that customer experience and brand loyalty is now more important than ever to ensure that your business stays up to date with these growing changes.
2018‘s weather has indeed been reported to affect the sales of retails throughout the year. Winter storms and summer heat waves have brought about disruptions to physical stores sales. Snow and freezing temperatures hit the footfall of shopping locations along with causing a major blow to supply chains.
What Should Be On Your 2019 Check List?
1. Bringing The Virtual World In-Store:
The digital and physical world continually feed off each other. The two shouldn’t be approached as polar opposites as they can combine to create an easy and exciting way for consumers to shop. Some of the most innovative and competitive retailers make digital a core part of their physical experience in-store. Examples of how you can explore this in-store include:
- Digital interfaces in-store which can be linked to your website.
- Moving images for advertising; this is known to be a lot more enticing to customers as opposed to common 2D advertising.
- Installing Free Wi-Fi in-store and advertising this for customers to use.
2. Experiential Shopping:
Ensure that your business remains relevant with everything from card payment to Google Maps. Creating returning customers is more important than ever as you will need to think about your business as more than just a place to transact. Is there something that your competitors are offering that you’re missing out on?
3. Focusing On The Idea Of Physical
Physical retailers have one thing which trumps over any online retailer. That is that as a customer you can actually see, touch and smell an item before purchasing. Doubts over purchasing products without seeing it in the flesh is something that physical retailers will always be able to pride themselves in.
With this idea in mind, you should look at pushing the physical by encouraging customers to taste-test products, create a comfortable atmosphere to enjoy before they purchase or even offer a customizable experience such as name engraving on products.
What Should You Prepare Going Into 2019?
1. Optimizing Your Checkout:
In 2018 a growing issue for retailers has been postponed payments at the checkout. Customers are being lost at this crucial stage in the customer journey. This is because of second thoughts about the product or busy periods in store. A huge way to reduce this is to push for ‘try before you buy’ methods of selling. Showcasing products outside of their packaging along with tester items for consumers to try out have been noted to have a huge impact on reducing abandoned carts.
2. Understand And Focus On Your Target Market:
By now you should have a good idea of your target audience but do you really understand them? Coming into 2019 it’s more important than ever to recognize who your customers are and the way that they think. Focus on your business location and what‘s nearby. Is it in a residential area, industrial park or maybe close to a university?
These are the things you should think about when understanding your target audience. Try to brainstorm about what your regular customers do before and after they leave your store. The customer journey doesn’t just take place inside your store!
3. Active Social Media Presence
In the last four years social media for businesses has become one of the most major aspects of how businesses choose to advertise online. Different platforms represent different groups of audiences that can be targeted. As demographics begin to skew younger there is a shifting presence for retailers to use social media to communicate with their customers. By embracing these trends and preparing for them, retailers can look to 2019 as another positive opportunity to grow.