The retail world in 2012

Considering today’s global economy and the fast-moving retail sector, you just can’t afford to do what everyone else is doing. In “shopping” terms, the only way to get your merchandise off the rack and to the sales counter is by standing out.

How many of us had a dress code back in grade school?

All that seemed to encourage was the idea that if we looked the same, we’d think the same.

Well, this just doesn’t work in the retail world. If your brand, manufactured product or service resembles every other one in the sector, it’s not likely that the consumer will choose it. Odds are that the customer will go with the one that somehow differentiates itself from the pack.

We live in a world that is centred on the individual. Getting to know your customer is not easy, but it is essential. While all retailers need to spot new customers, it’s most important to hold on to the customers you already have. Finding a new customer is proven to be at least four or five times as expensive as retaining an existing customer. Keeping your current customers satisfied is the best investment you can make!

In the rapidly changing retail world, the new rule is obvious:

Stand out from the crowd.

This sector is currently in a state of fierce competition, and there is little doubt that the competition will intensify in 2012 and beyond. Another certainty is that the retail sector will continue to be a driving force for the global economy.

Here are the three rules that I believe are vital in retail today, and for the future:

  • Location: Production/presentation of goods and services in the right place. Location, location, location! Choose your location after conducting thorough research and sound analysis. Don’t forget to listen to what your customers have to say about this!
  • Innovation: Innovative production and presentation so you continue to stand out. Your staff can serve as an important resource in the innovation process. Instil them with a sense of team spirit, encourage them to express their ideas, and reward them for their profitable suggestions. Treat your staff members well, and they will provide a wealth of innovative and creative ideas.
  • Customer loyalty: Being able to retain your customers. Retailers who can keep a firm grip on their customer base can avoid serious problems. The principle is simple: know how to look after your customers, and get a share of new customer groups. Anyone who fails to heed this wisdom risks losing customers in a matter of minutes. Remember: your competitors are always out there waiting…

“Being different” is one of the most important qualities in the retail world. But while this helps you to stand out from the crowd, your creativity must add value for the customer. So when coming up with your next great idea, ask yourself the following questions: What do customers want, why do they want it, and how long will it be before they likely will want to move on to something else? Finally, make sure you’re aware of what probability your first-time customer will develop into a repeat customer.

Know the answers to these questions? Good. Now, follow my advice regarding the above-mentioned elements – location, innovation and customer loyalty – and you’ll find yourself well placed within the sector and well positioned for the future!

Read more in MAPIC News 2011

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