The retail industry in the United States is definitely in transition, but that doesn’t mean the market is declining. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Economic forecasts suggest that retailers can expect to see continued market growth in the retail sector throughout 2018. The growth is driven in large part by a strong labor market that is providing consumers with more disposable income to spend on their favorite products.
While the outlook for retail is very encouraging, those in the industry cannot simply stand back and wait for the profits to come to them. With more consumers willing to let go of their hard-earned cash, increased competition among stores is expected to continue. Today’s consumers have a wide range of choices when it comes to where and when they want to shop, and this is leading them to hold elevated expectations about their shopping experiences.
In order to attract these consumers, it’s important for business owners in home furnishings and other industries to adapt and optimize their business models so that consumers want to shop with them. Following are some of the ways that retailers can thrive in today’s growing and changing retail market.
Optimize Store Layout
Despite reports signaling the death of brick-and-mortar stores, many consumers still prefer to visit physical locations rather than do all of their shopping online. This is especially true of those looking for new furniture. Creating a great in-store experience that encourages customers to purchase depends on a number of factors, including the store layout.
An effective store layout features a path that encourages customers to explore the entire store from front to back. This ensures maximum exposure to products and makes it easier for shoppers to find what they want. Furniture retailers who focus on maintaining a clean and orderly store that looks and feels good will also find that customers will likely stay there longer. The more time people spend in a store, the greater the chances are that they’ll spend money.
In addition to optimizing store layout for customers, furniture retailers who also sell products online may want to rethink the way they use their floor space. Making adjustments to create an area specifically for fulfilling the delivery of online orders could enhance the customer experience and improve business efficiency.
Invest in Operational Excellence
Improving business processes has always been a major focus of profitable business strategies. In today’s tech-driven world, business owners have more access than ever to tools that can support operational efficiency. These tools cover needs in areas ranging from inventory to human resources.
Investing in IT systems that digitize the inventory and supply-chain management process can increase profits by saving time, improving consistency, and avoiding product shortages and surpluses. These systems can also ensure that the right products are available when and where customers are looking for them.
Embrace Established and Emerging Technologies
Along with using technology to improve operational efficiency, business owners who want to stand out in today’s retail landscape should embrace its ability to enhance consumer engagement. Simply having a good website may not be sufficient to gain a market share in today’s digital world. New tools are available to help connect businesses and customers like never before, and smart retailers are taking advantage of this opportunity.
Using mobile applications to engage with consumers is now common throughout the retail industry. Business owners can take this engagement one step further by expanding mobile connectivity so that customers can chat directly with salespeople via their smartphone or another connected device. Leveraging digital tools to create more in-store, online, and mobile payment options is another way to put technology to good use.
Some of the advanced technologies that companies are embracing include artificial intelligence and augmented reality, which provide a digitized and immersive recreation of real-world environments. AR technology is particularly well-suited for the home furnishings industry because it can give customers the ability to see what a certain product would look like in their home.
Consider New Business Partnerships
Although it may seem counterintuitive in what is now such a competitive retail environment, collaborating with other businesses can be mutually beneficial. Sharing insights and market data with similar businesses is one way that retailers can increase consumer satisfaction and improve sales.
Large national retailers have even embraced inventive partnerships that include shops-in-shops and pop-up stores, which can help freshen in-store inventory while introducing customers to new products. Although these types of strategies may not be feasible for smaller retailers, they demonstrate how partnering with other businesses can boost sales and consumer engagement.
One partnership strategy that businesses of all sizes can use is co-marketing. Launching a co-marketing campaign can give two or more complementary brands the ability to reach more potential customers than they would be able to by themselves. Co-marketing can also establish positive long-term relationships that can help retail businesses remain successful in a highly competitive and ever-evolving industry