The retail landscape continues to see disruption from changing consumer behaviors, and online disruptors, such as Amazon. Over 3,500 stores are expected to close this year and we are seeing decrease in store foot traffic of close to 6 percent per year. Visits to shopping malls went down 50 percent. [Business Insider].
E-commerce was the main driver of this large drop, but changing demographics and consumer preferences were also contributing factors.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Where there are competitive threats, there are also opportunities. Let’s dig deeper. Retail is definitely changing, but it’s not dead. Some sectors such as home-improvement retailers actually increased 5.9 percent and food service and drinking places saw a modest increase of 3.2 percent, according to eMarketer. And while traditional department stores struggle, the number of “dollar stores” increased by 58% to 29,400, and many supercenters, like Walmart, saw 76 percent unit growth.
With all of this mind, I’d like to propose five ways that retailers can thrive in an Amazon world.
1. Create dynamic, personalized customer experiences. Customers shopping online are experiencing seamless, convenient, fast, and personalized shopping experiences. Retailers need to provide the same or better experiences at the store.
Use real-time analytics generated from your network to understand and know who is at your store. Customer insights gives you the ability to be able to predict and personalize customer engagements. Let your customers guide their own shopping journey, just as they would online. Learn more.
2. Empower associates to be productive and customer-first. To deliver the best in-store customer experience, you need a workforce that’s ready and eager to deliver the experiences your customers demand. Over 50 percent of consumers believe that the amount of sales help they receive in stores has declined (Deloitte, 2016).
Mobile technology empowers associates to become trusted advisors —equipped to help customers with real-time inventory information, product specifications, and personalized recommendations. Digital capabilities, such as on-demand training, analytics, and collaboration tools yields better-trained, better-supported, and more-satisfied associates who remain on the job for longer. Learn more.
3. Optimize your retail operations. To remain competitive in the modern digital marketplace, your retail infrastructure must balance customer demands for more personalized digital services with the operational requirements for unified commerce. Increasingly, stores need consistent information management combined with a consistent omnichannel experience to ensure rapid deployment of new business functions, services, and apps. Learn more.
4. Protect your brand and secure your operations. Cybersecurity attacks continue to make big headlines. For instance, the recent Equifax breach was said to have exposed the customer information of nearly 143 million people. Unfortunately, this is probably not the last cybersecurity attack we’ll read about.
Retailers need to build strong processes, IT networks and systems that secure their business from the store to the cloud to the data center. Learn more.
5. Build your store on the Cisco Digital Network Architecture (DNA). The essential strategy for digital transformation in this rapidly changing environment, is to invest in a technology foundation that is flexible, automated, and secure – a digital ready network.
With Cisco DNA, retailers can revolutionize how they design, build, and manage the network. Meaning, faster deployment and simpler, centralized management of an intelligent network, to get multiple stores up and running in days rather than months.
Cisco has built a comprehensive digital transformation assessment for retailers to learn where they are on their journey to becoming a digital business to survive in this digital era. Take your assessment today: Get Started!