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Borders. Circuit City. Marshall Fields. The Room Store. All of these once-thriving retail chains have gone out of business—and the list doesn’t include the numerous local stores that met a similar fate. The truth is, the retail business is difficult, particularly in the age of the internet. But is there any way to avoid the problems that have plagued other retailers? The answers is: Yes.
If you are or want to become a business manager of a retail store or chain, you have to embrace the modern realities of the market. And that means thinking like a modern customer. Why? Because no matter how compelling your brand image is, how stylish your stores are, or how attention-grabbing your marketing may be, if consumers don’t have a positive experience in your store, they will look for other options.
To better appeal to modern consumers, keep the following things in mind.
We live in a point-and-click world, and many consumers would like the same speed and convenience from retail stores. If you have long lines, consider adopting self-checkout or integrating your online store with your brick-and-mortar store, allowing customers to order online and pick up at the store, without a wait. You should also consider providing shipping. Some customers would rather wait a day or two to receive a product than stand in line at a store. But make sure the shipping is as close to free as you can make it. Free shipping is so common that failing to provide it could cost you sales.
Nearly 90% of U.S. adults use the internet.2 This means that if you want to be part of American life, you need to be part of the internet. Before customers step into your store, many will want to check out your website. If you have a clunky or noninformative site, they may choose to go elsewhere. But it’s not just about having a good website. You should also be active on social media, since many modern consumers follow retail stores with the expectation of learning about specials and obtaining digital coupons. Additionally, pay attention to crowd-sourcing review sites like Yelp. Both positive and negative reviews can give you important insights into what your customers truly want.
Modern technology makes it easy for consumers to connect with you, whether they’re sending you an e-mail or tagging you on a social media post. You need to pay attention. These days, consumers expect even the largest companies to interact with them personally and will judge you negatively if you fail to respond to them. Make sure you spend resources on keeping up with your public e-mail and reading your social media notifications. That way you can respond quickly, whether it’s to help resolve a problem or simply say thank you. Your customers will appreciate it.
Thanks to smartphones, your customers can stand in front of the products on your shelves and find out if those products are cheaper elsewhere. In fact, over half of retail customers report occasionally going into a store to see a product they plan to buy for cheaper online.1 How do you combat this? When it comes to the super-price-conscious buyer, you’ll have to match the lowest price out there. But many shoppers can be motivated through other methods. Rewards programs for regular customers, local products that may be hard to find online, proprietary products, well-trained sales associates that can answer questions and help make the buying experience smoother, and a good location that offers old-fashioned convenience can all help motivate customers to buy at your store.
Good management takes effort and a lot of knowledge. One of the best ways to obtain this knowledge is by earning a Master of Business Administration (MBA). This advanced business degree can help you gain the business and management insights you need to succeed in the modern business world, including in retail. But improving your business acumen doesn’t have to mean taking a break from your career.
Thanks to online education, you can earn an MBA degree while continuing to work full time. That’s because online MBA programs give you the freedom to earn your degree from anywhere you choose. You can complete your business administration master’s from home or anywhere else you have internet access. On top of that, online MBA programs allow you to attend class at whatever time of day works best for you.
If you want to help your retail store remain competitive, consider earning an MBA online. It’s a great way to gain the knowledge you need to think like a customer.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.