By now, you're probably well aware of the changes that Amazon and other online retailers are bringing to the industry. But, there are other trends on the horizon that can disrupt your business, and this group is not quite so obvious.
Here's the rundown on what they are, and how you can take advantage of them so your business does not get left behind.
Subscriptions and the Direct-to-Consumer Model
The direct-to-consumer market has exploded over the past few years, and subscription services are now a staple in just about every corner of the retail industry – from clothing brands like Stitch Fix to meal kits like Blue Apron. There's seemingly no corner of retail that can't benefit from a subscription model, so why not figure out a way to make it work for your business?
Not every subscription or service model has to be national or international in scope. You can create a subscription customer base right in your backyard. A point of sale system can help you identify your customers' buying habits and remind them when it might be time to refill or restock a particular item.
You can also use a point of sale system to anticipate your customers' needs based on their purchase history. You can send them new products to try, with the goal of getting them to make a purchase online or complete a sale the next time they come into your store.
The more data you collect about someone in your POS, the better you can tailor recommendations to them moving forward. Try out a subscription box model for your most loyal customers, using data from the POS to select other products they might like.
Deliver the recommended items as a package to their home, or have them ready for in-store pickup in a special VIP section, which will add intrigue for other customers and make them want to find out how they can get in on the action.
Sustainability and Social Causes
From Patagonia to Dick's Sporting Goods, the past year has seen a lot of brands take a stand on political and social issues. This trend is only going to continue.
Millennials and Generation Z see their buying habits as an extension of their identities, which means they prefer to support companies whose ideologies align with theirs. As with the case of Patagonia and Dick's, a carefully-considered social stance can generate lots of media attention and free publicity.
How do you know what issues your customers are likely to support? A point of sale system is a good place to start. You can cross-reference customer data against social media profiles to get a sense of where your customers fall on the social/political spectrum.
Or, you can take a more old-school approach and ask them what's on their minds. Do an in-store survey or run a contest on social media to find out what your customers support and discern what stance they might like to see your business take.
One cause everyone can get behind is sustainability. As we continue to feel the effects of climate change, consumers are looking for ways they can make an impact without disrupting their lives too much.
Adding a sustainable option to your business provides a way for them to do just that, while earning you some loyalty in the process. Ditch plastic bags in favor of reusable ones, source locally-made products when you can, and support environmental groups and events in your area. You'll receive exposure for doing something good and hopefully pick up a few new customers along the way.
Focus on Experiences
With so many shopping options available online, the decision to come to a physical location is more deliberate than ever. In other words, you need to give people a reason to come to your store instead of clicking a few buttons online to buy what they want.
When thinking about your in-store experience, consider elements of the shopping process that can't be replicated online — at least not yet, anyway. This might mean setting up a space for people to take photos or selfies while shopping or offering a concierge-like service that can only be utilized in person.
Marry the online and offline experiences by providing customer reviews of products on the shelves, or making it easy for people to read reviews on their phones as they browse. Things like "staff picks" can go a long way in helping people make decisions based on guidance from trusted experts.
Partner with other local businesses to turn your store into an event space. Bring in guest speakers who align with your brand and invite local bars and restaurants to serve food and drinks. You'll give people a reason to leave the house and learn something new while they learn about your brand.
Events require a lot of work to coordinate, but they are great for increasing foot traffic and starting to build a customer base. A point of sale system can help you track registrations and other data, or easily integrate with an event-specific vendor like Eventbrite.
Stay Ahead of the Trends
Epos Now's point of sale technology can help you capture the data you need to meet both current and future customer needs. Contact us to learn more about how our software can help move your business forward.