Independent retailers are renowned for being "technology laggards." Those days have to end!
As you wait and worry about re-opening your stores, the state of the economy, the health and safety of your family and friends and employees, here is an idea of what you might do with some of your found time.
When you do re-open, be sure that you are actually in the 21st Century! Put your energy, your resilience, and your flexibility to use, focusing on improving your IT.
The goal: When you re-open, be even better than your competition! And more relevant to your shoppers.
The shoppers rely on the internet more and more, especially after this experience. And many have discovered that some of their preferred retailers offer product online. Shouldn't they be discovering your stores too?
Shoppers also expect to get dependable information about the selection and the availability of merchandise in your stores: why make a trip if it's not available? That means you must have up-to-date data on your inventory.
Or, say the governor of your state announces that all retailers can re-open"with curbside pickup only", could you even consider that for your stores? Do you stores have the technology in place to manage that?
There is plenty of other technology available besides inventory control. Much of it has to do with digital marketing and connecting with customers.
As an independent retailer, your strength is your customer connections. As we work toward the New Normal, that sense of community must be nurtured digitally.
Programs and tools, many cloud-based, are abundant, increasingly user-friendly, and can be very cost-effective. The sooner you get involved with them, the better for your business going forward.
It also will have implications for your hiring and staffing going forward.
All of which are very significant considerations for your fundamental Go/No Go decisions about re-emerging after the pandemic.
According to the calendar, as of March 21, it officially is springtime. No matter what the weather is doing.
Well, it's time to bring the calendar to real life! Spring is really a state of mind! The dark winter has passed. Even the rain is warmer in the spring. And new growth is beginning to sprout; leaves are coming out. It's a wonderful, fresh outlook.
And that of course means it is a wonderful opportunity for retailers to refresh and reenergize their stores.
No matter what merchandise you sell - whether it's tires, apparel, books, housewares, office supplies, whatever - every retailer is in the fashion business.
And that means that your customers are wanting what is new and fresh.You know; "in fashion."
For some time, conventional wisdom has characterized independent retailers as "technology laggards."
Not that they are Luddites; it's just that they regarded retail technology as a major expense, especially in human capital. They often were cautious, even skeptical, about the promises of new technology being pitched to them.
When the pandemics arrived, many retailers responded rapidly and smartly. In scramble mode, some crammed five years of technology adoption into five months!
Now, as the lockdown restrictions recede, the conventional wisdom eagerly suggests that consumers of all ages will continue to rely on online shopping and other technology.
Hmm. Let's consider that "conventional wisdom" a bit more closely.
There's little that any of us can do to address the public health crisis of the pandemic. Its impact on people and businesses is a widespread and major jolt, akin to the shocks of 9/11 and the 2008-09 economic meltdown.
Even as painful and disruptive as the pandemic is at this moment, we must remind ourselves that it will subside. It's not whether it will subside, just when.
But all of us are going to have to deal with the ensuing economic situation, and its effects on our sales, our customers, our employees.
These are difficult times for us all. Retailing in particular is under enormous stress. Many feel like there are no good choices.
But, there are good decisions. And The ROI is dedicated to helping you be able to make those good decisions for yourself.
Amidst the fog of uncertainty of 2020, retailers have experienced a breath-taking acceleration of time, as an array of new-to-retailers technologies have now become almost commonplace.
2020 has put an end to the days of retailers being technology laggards. We applaud the resilience and adaptability of retailers who did embrace change and especially technology during 2020. Retailers definitely rose to the occasion!
And yet, again, the virus is surging. Even as promising announcements are made about vaccines, the threat that COVID-19 continues to pose to the survival of local businesses is ominous, and substantial.
We agree! This is so not fair!
But, who is up to that challenge? Independent retailers who are merchants supreme.
You've seen all the headlines. Worldwide inflation. Dire warnings of a coming recession. Big time discounts at retailers due to boatloads of inventory. Amazon doubling down on their Prime Day(s) sales. Shoppers shopping early in anticipation of rising prices.
Shaping up to be yet another "unprecedented" Holiday season for retailers, isn't it?
And a wonderful opportunity for all merchants!
How best to start? Set the boundaries.
Next, establish clear routines for monitoring inventory levels.
Now that we've put a wrap on 2021, and before we really dive into 2022, it's time to catch your breath and reflect on where we are after 2021.
Perhaps like us you believe that fundamental and enduring changes have occurred; no one can operate on "auto-pilot" anymore. All of us have to learn new processes, and form new habits. What's it called? Oh yes; "embracing change." Lots of it.
That's why it is a very opportune time, particularly for owners, to have a very active Q&A session with themselves.
Still less than $1 a day! 👀