Every retailer is looking for a way to rise above the crowd. The National Retail Federation reports there are nearly 3.8 million retail establishments in the U.S. With some regions becoming “overstored” and with eCommerce continuing to grow, competition is, to say the least, intense. Developing a competitive advantage in retail is crucial to survival, but flash-in-the-pan gimmicks or providing the season’s hot item only keep you on top for so long.
A more strategic goal is to strive for a sustainable competitive advantage. It is most definitely a goal more easily said than done, but still, with the right collaboration and planning, retailers can land on the optimal mix of products, services, and company culture that puts them on a whole new plane.
Here are four lofty goals for retailers that want to climb to the top and stay there:
- Unsurpassable Customer Experiences. Want a leg up on your competition? Foster fiercely loyal customer relationships through exceptional experiences on all channels. Today’s consumers simply expect personalized omnichannel shopping journeys and are likely to jump ship if they encounter obstacles and inconsistencies along the way. Make sure pricing, inventory, and level of service are consistent, regardless of how shoppers engage with you. Also accommodate shoppers that begin their journey on one channel but complete it on others, such as buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) customers.
- Maximum Convenience. Your shoppers will do what’s easiest and best for them so ask yourself if your retail business is convenient not only in location but also in terms of ease of transaction and merchandise selection. Are you stocking all of the products your shoppers need? A great omnichannel retailer can create a competitive advantage in retail by carrying a convenient assortment of merchandise that appeals to the customer base and offering superior customer service to ensure that shoppers are satisfied — soup to nuts — with each and every transaction. Affinity suggestions online and upselling and cross-selling in-store can increase sales, but they also ensure a customer has everything necessary to be happy with a purchase. Go out of your way to make sure that is the case.
- Unstoppable Commitment to Improvement. The best retailers rise to the top by not settling for “business as usual.” They keep close tabs on their performance by monitoring key performance indicators, (KPIs) and reacting to the trends revealed by data. They implement changes as needed to address shortcomings and respond to customer feedback.
A key to gathering the data you need to monitor KPIs is leveraging cloud-based software to achieve a single view of your retail business, from headquarters to stores to distribution centers. With a top-down view of inventory, sales, and promotions in each channel, you’re empowered to make smart, data-driven decisions that elevate the omnichannel retail experience for your customers. Insights from other tools in your digital store platform, such as loyalty, eCommerce, and inventory modules, can help you to improve in-store operations, fine tune marketing campaigns, and make better staffing decisions.
- Enduring Relationships with Vendors. Your vendors are a big key to your retail success so be sure to establish great relationships. With a solid rapport, your vendor relationships may result in special competitive perks that aren’t available to your competitors, such as exclusive products, selling rights, and more. Your choice of the vendors you choose to partner with plays a significant role in setting you apart from the competition.
Whatever your level of success is today, it’s time to start the climb. Retailers that don’t set and aim for lofty goals will fall behind — or fall away. To create a sustainable competitive advantage in retail, provide the exceptional, convenient experiences customers will return to your store for and never stop climbing by looking for and implementing ways to improve. Then enjoy the view from the top.