The retail space in Canada is fiercely competitive and constantly evolving. As international retailers are ready to set up shop in Canada in 2016 and beyond, it is vital to stay ahead of the game by keeping up with current trends. Even large retailers with well-established international brands like Target and Marks & Spencer have learned the hard way that there must be a consistent focus on wooing your customers. Here are a few ways to make your retail business stand out in 2016:
Own the digital experience
Consumers are increasingly using the internet as part of their shopping and decision process. Whether they’re comparing prices, looking for digital coupons or making purchases directly, the online world is a large part of the customer experience. Having a mobile friendly website is a must, but having an iOS and Android smartphone app is the ideal solution. While Canadians have been a bit slower to adopt shopping via mobile phone, it will increasingly play a role in e-commerce.
Digital technology in store
The digital experience isn’t limited to the laptop or smartphone screen, it should exist in your brick and mortar locations as well. Having public Wi-Fi that is easy to use in your store is a great first step, as customers will want to use their smartphones. If you are able to spend more, providing touch screen terminals that shoppers can access to check stock, pricing and other product information is a great idea. Having some method of self-service check-out also helps create an efficient flow throughout your store.
Personalize the experience
Gone are the days of sending out the same flyer or e-mail to thousands of people. While your loyal customers have a personal relationship with your brand, potential customers are also looking for a new relationship and want to feel special. Consumers want content and offers that are tailored to their shopping habits, needs and desires. Having a good Customer Relationship Management Software allows you to understand the customer and provide personalized offers. Customers are fickle, so that personal touch can really make the difference when being wooed by a competitor.
Social networks aren’t new, but retailers are still learning how powerful they can be. Consumers today are doing lots of research on stores, products and pricing before heading out to actually purchase what they need. Having a social media presence is vital since customers will often resort to social media to share their positive or negative experience with others. Having the ability to provide instant and public customer service through social media can turn an unhappy customer into a delighted customer. In fact, research shows that many customers will take to social media to voice their complaints and expect a response in under an hour!
The Canadian dollar had a pretty difficult 2015 and it looks like this trend is going to continue through 2016. Canadian consumers are going to be feeling the squeeze as they deal with price increases, especially for goods coming from the U.S. Sourcing goods from Canadian suppliers can help keep your prices lower. Most importantly, Canadian shoppers have instant access to pricing and will spend even more time comparing prices with your competitors and looking for deals. Making sure your on-line prices match your in-store price is important. You should also have an in-store return policy that easily allows return for items purchased online.
Following these trends and tips will help make sure that your retail operation weathers the Canadian retail environment in 2016 and stands out from the competition. Stay tuned to our blog for more updates on how to make your business a success.