There have been news stories for years that regale the end of brick and mortar stores. It is not just mom and pop stores that are facing hard times. Giant chain stores and well-established brands are closing their physical doors. The retail industry has steadily been moving to online retail and shows no signs of stopping. However, the transition to digital retail changes customer expectations, and companies must adapt to the new digital world or risk being smothered by the competition. The future of retail shopping is different from the brick and mortar world we used to know; here is what you need to know to compete in the ever-growing digital retail realm.
Amazon has standardized 2-day delivery windows, and customers now expect their orders to arrive promptly. While customers will give companies some leeway with orders from other countries, customers will expect standard orders to arrive in a few business days. Sadly, achieving fast delivery times is not as simple as asking carries to move faster. Some elements of the shipping process are out of a company’s control, but you can use various tools to make the process as efficient as possible.
Shipping and tracking APIs are standard tools that help customers and companies. Knowing exactly where orders are and when they will arrive is critical information for all parties. Customers want to know when to expect their orders, and companies need to keep track of packages in case something goes wrong. Various shipping and tracking APIs keep all this information organized and also verifies addresses to minimize shipping errors. Some carriers have dedicated APIs, like the ups time in transit API, for even more detailed shipping information like estimated cost and delivery windows.
Just because brick and mortar stores are fading doesn’t mean holiday shopping is leaving too. Customers will always want to shop around major holidays, and they expect sales or deals to accompany each holiday. The Black Friday in-person insanity is thankfully fading, but cyber Monday and other digital sales are taking its place. Do not forget to promote your products and deals for significant holidays with engaging ads. A successful sale will bring in more business than standard offers. While you might be discounting your prices, the increased sales volume during holidays will make up or surpass the difference.
Since retail is going digital, your outreach and marketing should too. Create a business profile on major social media platforms and connect with customers. Cultivate a loyal customer base by posting announcements for sales, new items, or exclusive deals only available through social media.
Social media also gives customers a similar group activity feeling that shopping in-person provides. One customer can post a link to a product they like and get feedback or comments from their friends and family all online. Instead of going from store to store with a group of people, a group of friends can exchange links to compare products together.
Social media is also not the only digital way to reach customers. Email campaigns are still widely used and successful. Whether you send promos in email blasts or target specific demographics with emails, using the Internet to reach customers is far easier and less wasteful than physical mailers. Apis can also play a role in email marketing. If a customer has recently abandoned a shopping cart, send an email reminding them they left items behind and perhaps include a small offer to entice them to buy. You can also send customers thank you emails after completing a purchase to make your brand more personable or a quick customer satisfaction survey a few days after their order arrives. At a minimum, you should send customers tracking information for their orders as soon as it is available.
The future of retail is increasingly digital. Physical stores are unlikely to vanish entirely, but most consumer shopping is now done online. Companies must adapt to this change. Customers expect fast delivery, and shipping APIs can make the process better for everyone. Do not neglect holiday sales and shopping sprees. Use social media and email marketing to use the digital age to your advantage.
Social media marketing was and is a marketing game changer when it comes to retail and overall business practice. Studies have shown that consumers will engage with a business that much more if they are active on Facebook than with businesses not active. Facebook fan pages and “likes” have shaped the influence and education people receive about many different retail products and services.
Recently reported on Mashable, Facebook has decided to take the trust people feel and bring it to a whole new level. Facebook will soon be integrating a digital “like” data counter into the fashion industry by providing the amount of likes for individual products visible on the clothes hanger in retail stores for those who are having a hard time narrowing down their purchasing choice.
“Retailer C&A has started a marketing push there that marries online groupthink with real-world decision making. Called FashionLike, it works like this: Whenever sometime Likes a clothing item online at C&A Brasil‘s site, that thumbs-up is tallied on a screen embedded in clothes hangers on the store’s physical racks.”