Retail Meltdown. Retail Apocalypse. Retail Decay. These two-word terms of insult have their way of sneaking into headlines these days regarding reports on decreasing retail sales. But if you dig deeper and look further, some of the chains closing stores have been on a slow, steady decline for years and have either held onto the tried-and-true or attempted to adapt too late.
Although many retailers are struggling, thousands of others have opened new locations in 2017: Dollar General, Ulta, T.J. Maxx, Kroger, AutoZone and Dollar Tree are just a sampling.
Retail challenges exist but really, hasn’t that always been the case? For centuries, merchants have either adopted or closed shop, so in that sense retail challenges will always be present and keeping current will continue to be necessary.
Retailers all over face decreasing sales, tougher competition, tighter margins, and the infiltration of Amazon—the world’s largest internet-based retailer. All is not lost, however, because retail technology is creating new paths and innovative ways to deliver goods to consumers, and many retailers are thriving.
An April 2017 story in theatlantic.com reported that during the first three months of 2017, there were nine retail bankruptcies—as many as in all of 2016. Although true, an August 2017 report by IHL Group entitled, Debunking the Retail Apocalypse, points out that more than 4,000 stores are opening in the U.S. this year with 5,500 projected for 2018. More stores are opening than closing.
A February 2017 report by Euromonitor.com stated overall retail growth in the United Kingdom fell slightly in 2016, mostly due to the Brexit referendum impact. It also showed that UK consumers continue spending more time using their smartphones to purchase goods and to engage, via social media, with retailers. A separate report by the Cambridge Education International Consortium (CEIC) states that retail sales in the UK grew .9 percent year over year (YOY) in May of this year.
In short: Consumers are spending money, but not the same ways they did 5 or 10 years ago.
They opt for more meals out with friends and less on designer clothes than a decade ago. And regardless of where they live, customers wish to be wowed by retail sales. They want a seamless shopping experience—the ability to check out a product on their mobile device, put it in their hands at the store, and go home and research its pros and cons. They crave the ability to order it online and return it at the store. Consumers have demanded change. And innovation, along with retail technology, is helping deliver it.
Let’s talk about Apple—a behemoth that drives change. In May, it launched “Today at Apple,” a collection of in-store, hands-on, educational lessons in all of its 495 stores. The company has created its own modern-day town squares and allows anyone, for free, to come in and learn. Apple helps evolve its customer experience and in doing so, brings more customers through its doors.
And then there’s Build-A-Bear Workshop, which two years ago, launched its new store format at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. Among its updates, the company included a new inspiration wall that displays various fashions and trends tied to pop culture—helping spark the imagination of customers of all ages.
Apple and Build-a-Bear continue to evolve by creating interactive experiences that allow them to connect with consumers, one-on-one. They are tackling retail challenges by creating innovative, immersive experiences with their customers, and they are doing so in their stores.
Retail challenges will always exist but the future? Dismal or delightful. Those who innovate certainly have a better chance at improving retail sales and surviving the next decade—and beyond—than those who rest on past laurels.
Getting rid of employees isn’t going to be a game changer for most retailers. Think about the aforementioned examples. Employees need the time to engage with customers and shape experiences. This is where automation can help offset increasing labor costs. When technology takes over some of the manual, back-office tasks, employees have more time to suggest the best shade of foundation to match a teen’s skin tone or help a husband select an anniversary gift for his wife.
How are you driving your company to stay competitive? Are you automating manual responsibilities that allow your employees more time turning browsers into buyers? How can you revolutionize your retail environment?
Tellermate’s user-friendly line of cash counters and intelligent cash drawers can boost your profits. They save numerous hours by making you cash transactions more secure and efficient. They also help detect mistakes, deter fraudulent activity, and provide real-time cash management information—providing your employees more time to spend on the floor with your customers. Our technology helps you drive efficiencies to increase your bottom line, giving you the time to innovate, to grow, to thrive.
Looking to find ways to save money and decrease labor costs while reducing shrink? Download the Goodwill case study to find out how Tellermate helped Goodwill improve efficiencies and reduce cash loss across its U.S. stores.