Technology is changing the way that we shop, providing us with more and more options as to how we can purchase goods. And with new technology being released continuously, the challenge is growing for retailers to restructure their businesses to cater to this desire for an easier and more convenient shopping experience.
The consumer of the 21st century has a greater influence and more control over their retailers than ever before. Even the most modest of small family-owned shops need to realise that modernisation is essential for their survival. Technology has become key to business growth, and that requires investing additional time and money to ensure that they adopt the most appropriate system. Those that get it right will reap the rewards, while those that are slow to join in may very well see themselves becoming obsolete. More than this, retailers are now under increased pressure to provide the best possible service and deliver a seamless shipping experience, or risk the wrath of criticism on social media for the world to see.
In a world where 140 characters and 10-second sound bites rule the day, effective communication matters more than ever. With smartphones now so prevalent and crucial to the way that we live our day-to-day lives, an online and mobile presence is a must. It is estimated that 49% of all European online sales will come from mobile by 2018. This shows the growing importance of a mobile presence for retailers to engage with consumers.
So what does the modern consumer want, and how can we provide that?
What is imperative is that a prospective customer can input your shop name into a search engine and find all the appropriate details for it then and there, such as location and opening times. A good secondary component of immediacy is to allow them to be able to access what they want outside of normal opening hours. Is there that one item that they know they already need? Let them place an order for it online at any time, to be collected or delivered at a more suitable time.
A valued relationship
Previously, the optimum relationship with your retailer was to walk into the shop and have them recognise you by name and what you may require from them. Now that a transaction can be conducted without even setting foot into a shop, consumers expect you to reach out to them. A text or an email can act as a good relationship builder, especially if you can let them know of an offer that has been tailored to them and their previous shopping habits at your business.
Connection through online social networks
Don’t underestimate the power of social sharing and the importance of your business’s online presence and digital marketing efforts. Even before the Internet, referrals were a huge source of business. Reviews for small businesses are now shared tenfold through social media as people want to give their praise or criticism, especially through local groups who will be more receptive to their reviews. Having a strong online presence as a retailer can help you be seen even before these reviews begin coming on – and simply being online will help others who are online see you in a more positive light.
“Business as usual” is no longer “usual”. Customer activism is real, and the companies that don’t try and keep up with changes in customers’ tastes and expectations will struggle to keep pace. The challenge of technology for businesses is both daunting and potentially rewarding. Consumers are very impatient, they always look at the best in class and it is very hard to create that friction-free world and adapt your internal technologies at the rate that you have to. However, hard work is often rewarded, and Boost Capital is here to help – providing both relevant information and finance that can grow your business.