Anticipating customer needs is a continuous service expectation and important in meeting consumer demand for the best value. Customers check for the best price everyday and not just in Sunday ads. Retailers will need to be attentive to consumer approaches to shopping for a bargain and build a program from this awareness.
- Many consumers will prefer the web to bricks-and-mortar retailers in large part because of the online deals. The report says, 70% of the holiday shoppers last year said they made purchases online rather than in stores because online retailers offered better deals.
- The increasing popularity of smart phones and tablet computers among consumers, leads them to spend more time online, including for shopping. “The tablet shopping experience also likely encourages shoppers to purchase more products in an impulse fashion.’
Factors that will impact the retail sector during 2013 in the U.S., according to Plunkett Research, Ltd., show that consumers are focused on increasing their savings and paying down debts. Persistently high unemployment levels and a difficult environment for job seekers are reducing retail spending. Price sensitive consumers will continue to be more conservative. When they do spend, they want to feel like they are buying merchandise that is fairly priced, if not a significant bargain.
Meanwhile, competition among retailers has never been tougher. A retailer without a significant competitive advantage doesn’t stand a chance. Superstores are battling each other on every major corner, while Internet marketers are stealing customers from stores. Some consumers are using stores as showrooms where they can touch and feel the merchandise, and then making their purchases at lower cost online at sites like Amazon.com. Online selling at deep discounts is even making inroads into major consumer purchases such as jewelry.
Plunkett’s four keys to successful retailing:
- A high value-high quality product selection-Depth of selection is less important than a reasonably sized offering of products that the merchandiser has chosen because they consistently offer high value and quality.
- Very competitive prices-The goal here is to give the consumer confidence that the store faithfully delivers everyday low prices, meanwhile managing the firm so as to allow the owners a viable profit margin.
- Superior service-In store help, follow up service, problem-solving, installation and repairs offered easily and quickly along with the ability to make returns and exchanges must be part of the package, with an absolute minimum of inconvenience to the consumer.
- Seamless integration of bricks and clicks-Successful firms integrate their online endeavors with their physical presence in a manner that provides the highest possible level of convenience to customers.
Freesia S., of Meriden, Connecticut, on Yelp’s comments and review of local Connecticut Outlets says, ‘I stopped in last week for the first time in a while, and I found some great deals. I like these outlets in particular because there are a lot of great stores to browse, and I appreciate the outlet prices for the more expensive brands. The outdoor walkways are nice and open, and really conducive to a day or evening of shopping. I got some things from Coach, Banana Republic, and Gap, went through some other stores, and left with that feeling you can only get from a successful day of retail therapy.’
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