What challenges do retailers face?
When we first started thinking about our content for 2020 and what we might want to talk about in our blog, we had no idea that COVID-19 would even be a thing. Or at least as big as it has become. That said, with or without a pandemic, our nation’s retailers face new challenges that even a decade ago most probably never even considered.
In January of this year, Sourcing Journal released this article that described what they called “the 5 challenges facing retail in 2020”:
- Sustainability-deemed a positive challenge, retailers were expected to be forced to have environmentally friendly services and products.
- Multichannel retail-retailers were expected to figure out how to succeed in both brick and mortar settings, and online. All while finding strategies that blend the two experiences.
- Maintaining relevance-“retailers must be constantly looking for windows of opportunity to connect with their consumers.”
- New disruptors-it’s not just e-commerce that is forcing traditional retailers to rethink their strategy. New methods for pricing, sustainability, and providing transparency have come into the picture were expected to make a huge difference in 2020.
- Saturation-the retail market was way too saturated and stores had to figure out how to be noticed…in a good way.
Those five challenges were enough to think about for the first two months but then March happened, and COVID-19 became one of the biggest disruptors are economy has seen in a very long time. You would think that it would radically change the challenges and to some degree, it did. But one thing remained the same. As we’ve talked about on our blog before, any business, be it retail or logistics, must stay agile and adapt to changes if it wants to have a prayer of staying afloat.
Retailers are already figuring out new versions of the old challenges and seeing where they had potential soft spots that made them vulnerable during the pandemic.
Here are what we see retailers dealing with now that will continue to be a challenge moving forward:
Patrons are “all over the place”
Some people are eager to be back in stores and others have decided that they like the idea of purchasing from the privacy of their own home. Retailers (and even restaurants) must now, more than ever, figure out how to make the in-store and online experience seamless and clearly following the same standards for customer service and “vibe.”
Technology is great until it isn’t
It would be easy to say that the above challenge is easy because we have so much technology at our fingertips. The problem is, the technologies doesn’t always cooperate, especially with each other. And when more people start using a technology and it gets overloaded, that causes problems for everyone. So where will the customers flock? Where should the retailers invest their talent and resources? What is the new backup plan to the backup plans that were created because of the pandemic? Suddenly, a challenge centered around technology is about more than just that.
Minding their teams
Team member safety and morale is a bigger challenge than ever before. We are still seeing retailers have to shut down once one employee gets exposed and that wreaks havoc on sales and morale. Unhappy employees (or absent employees) mean a less than stellar customer experience. Unhappy customers go elsewhere.
Managing customer expectations, especially during the Amazon age, has always been a challenge. But Customers now have different expectations and might now even know how to articulate those needs. It’s incumbent on the retailers to assess and respond as those needs evolve.
We can help
Is your retail location needing to offer local and regional delivery? What about managing shipments outside the area? As the premier last mile and freight delivery service in Northwest Arkansas and Central Arkansas, we are equipped to manage your deliveries for you, freeing you and your staff up to work with your customers. Give us a call before the holiday season hits (hint: it’s pretty much here) so we can get a plan!