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How to expand a brick and mortar retail business

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Although ecommerce continues to carve huge chunks out of the high street, the brick and mortar retail outlet is still a thriving business space. A physical business building is no longer something that retailers are avoiding, and even the biggest online-only brand names are investing in physical premises.

For retailers that already have their brick and mortar presence established, the risks of growth remain ever-present. However, with a focus on the emerging consumer trends and the latest cutting-edge technologies, it is now increasingly possible to expand a brick and mortar retail business so that it becomes bigger and even more profitable. Here’s how to expand while minimising the risks.

Customer engagement

All retailers need to be selling online as much as they focus on selling in store. The goal then becomes making a more seamless transition from the online to the physical and focusing on providing a customer experience that resonates. Communication channels are the key, and having in-store promotions and signage that conveys brand culture and grounds that vital brand awareness is essential. Look for ways to improve the potential for engagement and look at options like the IoT that can make it easier to monitor in-store activity in real-time.

For example, Hyundi India has integrated WhatsApp as part of its customer service strategy. Using WhatsApp, Hyundai wants to streamline the vehicle service booking process, provide service updates and documentation all in one place via their customers’ preferred communication channel.

The WhatsApp Business solution enables businesses to connect with 2 billion users in a simple, reliable, and private way across 180 countries worldwide. As an approved WhatsApp

Expanding to new locations

The more stores that you have, the easier it is to attract new customers to your till. Although expansion to new brick and mortar outlets can be a risk, with the right planning and the right financial strategy, it could be the key to sustainable business growth. Do your research on new locations and ensure that you know the ongoing costs of any new premises. You can avoid greater financial risk by making use of a Property Development Loan that will give you some breathing room as you establish your brand in that new location.

Create an experience

It feels like more people live their lives online than ever, and that’s (surprisingly) good news for retailers and other business models that rely on physical interactivity. Innovative ways to turn a store visit into an enjoyable experience that can be shared online is growing in popularity and looks set to become one for the defining retail trends of the 2020s. Experiential retail is becoming one of the emerging trends that is shaking up the retail sector, and if you’re planning for expansion, then creating in-store experiences is now vital.

In this era of avoiding shops – temporary though it is – retailers need to increase their online and mobile experience for customers more than ever. And one key way to do that is through gamification.

Gamification can be the opportunity for brands to tap into consumers’ aspirations and desire to challenge themselves. In fact, almost a third (30%) say they are ‘Open to new challenges’, offering brands opportunities to apply these principles beyond health and fitness.

Health and welfare apps are just the starting point for these gamification strategies. Brands and marketers have an opportunity to use gamification to acquire new customers and build sustainable relationships with existing ones by giving users a unique experience that only their brand can offer.

For example, in personal banking these can be used to reward loyal customers, in fashion they could unlock exclusive offers or early access to new products – brands could even use gamification metrics to give fans access to exclusive content.

Investing in people

Sometimes, the best way to ensure that your customers have the best experience in your store is to ensure that you have the right customer-facing members of staff. It’s your in-store team that is the face of your brand, so you need to ensure that they are going to be aligned with your branding, are helpful, and can provide value to your customers. Take the time to interview potential hires to ensure a good cultural fit, and always check the references that are given. One bad hiring mistake can have drastic results on your potential to grow, so take the time to get your hiring process right.

Despite repeated declarations that physical retail is dead, it continues to flourish and grow. While ecommerce might be taking its share of the retail sector, those that align both their online and offline channels are set to be the big winners in retail in the 20s and beyond.

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