The physical retail industry is in a transformative Darwinian-evolution phase—and only the strong will survive. But what exactly makes a retailer stronger these days? Is it product quality and competitive pricing? Is it the “experience”? Reputation? Sustainability track record? Political affiliation? Sheer luck?
Retail Systems Research recently released its findings from its 2017 benchmark report, The Retail Store In 2017: The Change Imperative, based on a survey of 126 retailers.
“Stores are in trouble,” said Steve Rowen, managing partner at RSR Research and co-author of the report, in a news release. “Will some die? Sadly, that answer is yes. But the store itself is not going anywhere. People need them. Even Amazon wants them. The question is: what does it take for retailers who already own traditional stores to adapt quickly enough to survive the culling?”
Key focus areas of the report:
There is a fundamental break between what retailers are focused on—and what consumers care about most. For example, only half of survey respondents believe the rise of online competitors is eroding their business. At the same time, they all but ignore things that should be setting off alarms—namely complaints about in-store service.
Retailers self-identify “hiring better people” as their best way forward. However, there are significant gaps between what they think those people should be doing (helping customers) and how they think they’ll get there. For example, only 34 percent of retailers say current in-store associates need to be better informed.
Far too many retailers believe that 10 hours or less (annually) is enough training for in-store associates. This includes brand new hires. Quite simply, this is one of the key problems with retail stores today.
When it comes to a retail technology’s potential, retailers are highly focused on preventing the loss of an in-store sale to a digital channel. Location-aware marketing, digital displays, and endless aisles all win favor as ways to make the store experience both as exciting—and as fulfilling—as shopping online.
The report offers perspectives on in-store employee service, associate training, and Retail Winners’ best practices to improve, as well as insight into which technologies retailers are investing in—and budgeting for—to make the store relevant to consumers once more. In addition, the report offers baseline recommendations for navigating this brave new world for retailers.
Download the full report here (registration required).