The past year was a shock for most, a new starting point, the beginning of the end or a complete transformation of the retail business. One of the main results is that 2020 literally pushed retail to online, intensive digitalization of sales channels, communications with customers, and service implementation will continue in the coming years. Why you should forget everything that you thought was correct and effective for the development of your footwear business until 2020, and how to manage it in a new way in 2021, says Maria Gerasimenko, SR expert in the field of fashion business management and development.
CEO of FashionAdvisers, an expert in the management and development of fashion business.
In this article, we will analyze three main blocks of questions and problems that concern the vast majority of owners and managers of shoe stores today:
Forget everything that came before and get ready for an exciting journey!
The year 2020 has ended, and now we can speak more safely about the trends, opportunities and threats emerging in the market. The past year literally pushed retail online: someone started selling through marketplaces, someone finally started selling on Instagram, and some even invested in their own online store! Only those who closed or will soon close their business did not make a step into online.
Online sales channels themselves are also being adjusted to the needs of small businesses: Tilda announced a budget designer for online stores, which took into account everything: from internal CRM to integration with large and technological delivery services. Instagram has finally approved Shopping Tags for Russia, and marketplaces have made it easier for new partners to enter the platform.
Uncertainty and digital
Shoemakers, like other entrepreneurs, have been forced to live in conditions of uncertainty for more than a year: uncertainty with lockdown, production and supply of goods, new laws and requirements from the authorities, and constantly changing consumer behavior. The business switched to short-term planning, flexible management, and quick testing and implementation of successful ideas. Testing a new format, quickly rotating goods between stores, sorting articles that are in high demand from a free warehouse - this is the new norm!
To respond quickly to ongoing changes, you cannot do without automation and analytics. There are several digital solutions for this: BI systems, sales robots, CRM and online offices. And here there is a slippery stone: just buying a product is not enough. 70% of success is the correct setting and implementation of IT programs, therefore, I recommend that you take the choice of a contractor with particular seriousness.
Competition and service
Over the past year, many representatives of small and medium footwear business have left the market. Competition has weakened, along with it purchasing power has weakened. The population's incomes are decreasing, the debt load is growing.
We notice that not only have buyers become more conscious about their purchases, they now postpone the purchase until the very last moment. In other words, now they do not buy shoes in advance, as was usually the case before, but directly at the moment when these shoes already need to be worn. Shops should now take this into account in their work. And, as you know, the best cure for awareness and pragmatism is emotion and service!
Customers are tired of sitting at home and choosing a product on the Internet. They want live communication, tactile contact and sympathetic attitude from salespeople.
Those companies that are watching the change in the "customer journey" of their customers have an undeniable advantage. They know better than others about their customers' preferences, triggers, speed of decision-making, dreams and fears. Therefore, they play ahead and remind the buyer of themselves at the stage when they are just thinking about buying shoes, talk about the benefits that are important for this buyer, dispel those fears that the buyer experiences before buying. All this happens, as a rule, much earlier than visiting online or offline sales channels. And the very concept of "service" has also undergone changes.
Now service is about customer comfort at all levels. The service today includes:
Relationship suppliers - retail
Retail relationships with suppliers have become tighter. Suppliers have become more sensitive to their customers: many manufacturers and distributors have implemented training for their customers on the product, sales and service, help in assortment analytics and drawing up the correct technical specifications for the purchase, and provide loyal terms of payment for purchases. In response, retailers were sympathetic to delivery delays. Finally, in the supplier-retailer relationship, there is an understanding that retail sales success = supplier sales success.
Express recommendations to increase business efficiency
1. Implement business automation: start by automating the assortment matrix analysis, sales robots and CRM:
Analysis of assortment sales will allow you to make quick sub-sorting from your own stores / warehouse or from a supplier's free warehouse.
The sales robot will help you track the performance of each salesperson, fulfillment of the sales plan, conversion, check complexity and NPS in real time. It will help you quickly evaluate the results of testing any new idea for your business.
As for the CRM system, this is the very element without which a happy brand-customer relationship is impossible. With the help of CRM, you can analyze your customer base, divide it into segments, develop a loyalty program in accordance with the expectations of the target audience, adapted for the most effective work with each segment, and much more!
2. Fast purchases. We have already gone through this in previous crises, when for the successful continuation of the business we had to “breathe in short breaths”: buy-sell-buy-sell. Suppliers who have a free warehouse, who analyze demand and carefully select their assortment, will also be in an advantageous position.
3. Implement service and customer focus. Start by at least educating sellers on product, sales, and service. Study the preferences of your customers: what produces a wow effect on them, what do they dream about, what are they afraid of, why do they buy from you? Provide the customer with maximum comfort in the store: equip a recreation area for the customer's companion, offer a drink (tea / coffee / water) with a light dessert. And start taking steps towards seamless omnichannel. When the buyer can choose, try on, pay and receive the goods in any way convenient for him.
2020 has revolutionized the lives and habits of entrepreneurs, and 2021 requires decisive steps. It's time to make them!
Success and prosperity to your business!
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