Retailers are facing major challenges in the modern world. However, by embracing each retail challenge and changing the way they operate, businesses can continue to thrive.
The first retail challenge that businesses face is the current demand for multi-channel retail. A 2012 study by Econsultancy showed that 40 percent of consumers expect to be able to make purchases using multiple retail channels, an increase of nearly 10 percent compared to 2011 figures. The proportion is even higher among younger consumers. As a result, it is no longer enough for retailers to depend solely on brick-and-mortar stores for their sales. Consumers expect to be able to order products online, using a computer, tablet or smartphone, and return those products to a local store if there is a problem. Retailers must be able to manage these multiple retail channels effectively if they are to thrive in the new market.
The growth of mobile shopping is another retail challenge that can cause problems for businesses. The practice of showrooming, which means comparing prices online while shopping in a physical store, is becoming increasingly popular, according to data gathered by Econsultancy. In response to this retail challenge, retailers must offer high-quality, easy-to-use mobile applications or mobile e-commerce sites, so that their customers can easily buy or compare using their tablets and smartphones. Creating an interesting and engaging in-store experience can also reduce the possibility that users will sneak onto their smartphones to check prices online.
The final retail challenge that businesses currently face is the need to be flexible. Many big businesses have been operating in the same way for years and are resistant to change. However, businesses that do not innovate will be left behind in today's rapidly changing retail environment. Retailers must embrace technological solutions, such as e-commerce, big data, and social media, if they are to remain popular and relevant in the new emerging markets.
The Internet has transformed retail in many ways, allowing retailers to market more directly to consumers and facilitating purchases both in-store and online, through the use of mobile wallet applications and e-commerce sites. Businesses that do not embrace these changes could see their sales figures falling further and further as greater numbers of consumers get online. The most successful businesses are those that innovate to stay ahead of their competitors and offer the best possible services to their customers. That means using data to analyze customer behavior and offer the online services that people want.
In order to remain successful, retailers need to approach every retail challenge as an opportunity to improve their operating practices. By embracing technology and multi-channel retail, both retail giants and smaller businesses can keep their customers engaged and continue to offer excellent service.
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