Brick-and-mortar retailers are having a tough time remaining relevant as e-commerce platforms take off and other shops move toward digitizing. “The Retail Doctor” Bob Phibbs weighs in with his thoughts and advice on what companies can do to reach their audiences and keep up with the ever-changing times.
Improve customer service
One of the things that gets obscured in the switch from a brick-and-mortar retail shop to a digital platform is that customer service is lost. Companies need to think of strategies to keep customer service a priority and ensure that consumers are having an enjoyable experience. “You can’t just wing engagement,” Phibbs says. “If you’re going to be in business, you better act more like when you first opened your store and be fastidious and have a real laser focus on that person that’s in your store today.”
Basically, you need to make sure the customer feels like they’re important. If they walk in and see uninterested staff or feel like they’re interrupting by simply showing up to shop, then you have a problem. “I’m looking for someone who’s going to greet me when I walk in the first 30 seconds, somebody that’s going to be curious about why today I walked in the door,” he says.
Retailers also need to address audience engagement online. According to Phibbs, when you address your audience both in person and online you can then “make more sales.”
Oftentimes, shops end up not doing well because they’re unable to adapt to online marketing. They don’t know how to implement strategies properly. Instead of preserving their brand’s unique voice, it ends up coming across as impersonal. “That’s why so many aren’t doing well,” he explains. “The feeling is bland and boring, and their employees aren’t trained. So, they’re really little more than a warehouse of the same product that most of their competitors carry as well.”
Digital Tools for Retailers
Phibbs recommends that companies use predictive analytics and blockchain to amplify a brand’s online presence. “A lot of retailers have dark data — information they don’t know is valuable,” Phibbs says. “Using product’s like IBM’s Watson they can now take that data and use predictive analytics to establish patterns and proactively spot problems and opportunities, and then adjust the supply chain so there are fewer out-of-stocks at the store level.”
He continues that blockchain “can help with recalls and making sure your products are being made as you expected.”
Phibbs also says that chatbots are going to be an integral part of a business’s growth online. “They don’t cost a lot to come up with and they really save an awful lot of work on the customer side, as well as your own,” he explains.
He advises that a brand think about how to market themselves to become more than just a source of a product but also a resource. A brand needs to solidify themselves as experts in the field and hone in on their voice. “You better have a compelling, interesting site that people want to spend time on,” he says. “Otherwise, you’re going to be using pay-for-click ads to get people there who will click off right away.”