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4 Ways Retail is its Own Worst Enemy

Is retail slowing experiencing its demise? From Sports Authority to Wet Seal, it seems like some of the once-popular big box stores are having one last big sale and then closing up shop. But why?

While consumers tend to shop online for convenience and price, there’s certainly a sizable portion of people who enjoy the in-store experience.

Still, if you’re a struggling retail company or want to get in front of the potential problem, here are four reasons why retail businesses as we know them are on their way out the door.

1. They’re Not Safe

No, you’re not in any physical danger inside a retail store, but what about your data? Credit card breaches have become regular, everyday occurrences — and it has reached a point where consumers now either opt to pay in cash or via secure online storefronts that carry a much better safety track record.

Secure Solutions

There are two ways to tackle data fear: Use a reputable server like Mozy to back up your data — stop relying on antiquated local storage — and make your secure sockets layer/point-of-sale security is front and center for customers to see. Maybe they won’t understand the difference between 128- and 256-bit encryption, but they’ll feel better that something is done to protect their financial data.

2. They’re Not Online

It’s hard to believe, but there are still retailers that don’t have an online presence in 2017. If you want to thrive in today’s digital age, you need to be online. Period. Even brick and mortar retailers that have a strong foothold in the industry, like REI, have an excellent online presence — to the point that the outdoor retailer could survive if its physical locations shuttered overnight.

Digital Solutions

Become a online company with a physical presence, not the other way around. Double down on the resources in your eCommerce team and consider holding exclusive online sales to drive existing customers to this space.

3. They Don’t Understand Young People

There’s nothing more cringeworthy than noticing a “millennial fail,” an obvious attempt at pandering to young customers without true authenticity. Don’t be mistaken — you should absolutely market to young people, who are now the largest consumer base in the country. But try to avoid these common mistakes:

  • Don’t use a one-size-fits-all approach when marketing to millennials; after all, a 31-year-old isn’t going to respond to the same sales tactics as a 22-year-old.
  • Again, don’t pander. Treat millennials like adults, and they will shop at your company like adults.
  • If you don’t have a millennial in charge of your marketing department, your should definitely learn to speak like one. Using inauthentic language when selling to young people is like speaking broken Italian in Italy — it just doesn’t connect or cut it.
  • Sometimes the best method when marketing to millennials is adopting a strategy that doesn’t target them at all. Truthfully, you’re guaranteed to avoid pandering and being seen as inauthentic if you stop focusing on certain age brackets.

4. They’re Reactive, Not Proactive

The now-mega-successful Dollar Shave Club started gaining lots of attention and buzz, all due to an epic commercial available only on YouTube. It was a viral success that launched Dollar Shave Club into a much-talked-about brand — and changed the razor industry as we know it. And then seemingly ever retailer completely copied their snarky approach. At 24 million views, the temptation to replicate the Dollar Shave Club commercial is understandable, but the results are short term at best.

Creative Solutions

Your brand should find its own voice online. Viral videos are always accidental — and your goal shouldn’t be to create one from scratch.

Instead… be real, be authentic and be original.

Your customers will appreciate and gravitate toward your brand message.


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