Why Retailers Need to Keep up With the Latest Trends

Last Updated:
June 18, 2022
Kay Nicole

Retailers Need to Keep up With the Latest Trends

The retail landscape has never been as competitive as it is right now. Retailers, across the world, are facing big challenges.

The list of issues they must deal with includes:

  •  More competition – virtually all retailers now compete with national rivals and because of the internet, many also have international competitors.
  • Customers with less cash to spend – consumers everywhere are suffering the effects of inflation, rising power bills, and less job security, so they have less money to spend.
  • Higher supply chain costs – the rising price of fuel, labor costs, soaring warehousing overheads, and the hangover from CoVid have all combined to cause supply chain inflation. This article lays it all out, including the statistics, if you want to learn more.
  • Rising labor costs – in the USA the cost of labor has risen faster than it has for 20 years. The same is happening in Europe
  • Higher product costs – the fact that manufacturers are seeing all their overheads go up too means that they are having to charge retailers more. Leaving store owners having to cut their profit margin.
  • Cost of compliance with increased legislation – despite all of these pressures, some retailers are also having to shoulder the cost of additional legislation.

That is a bleak picture. Just one or two of those hurdles would represent a big challenge. Yet, most retailers are faced with having to handle all of them at once.

Surprisingly, many of them are doing so successfully. Often, it is technology that is saving the day. Below, we quickly review how retailers, big and small, are doing that.

Using automation to reduce labor costs

In many parts of the world, a shortage of labor is one of the key reasons wages are rising. Even when the pay is good people would prefer not to work in retail. As a result, retailers are increasingly automating their operations. Here are a few examples of how they are doing that:

  • Using robotic cleaning machines
  • Using robots to tour the shop floor checking for low stocks, and handling reordering. In some cases, also picking cases of stock up from warehouse staff and delivering them to replenishment staff on the shop floor.
  • Increasing the number of self-service checkouts
  • Making it easier for people to order online, this is a way of selling that by its very nature requires fewer people.
  • Automating the receipt and picking processes in their supply chain warehouses.

Using sensors to save money and serve customers better

For years, retailers have been using sensors to reduce power consumption. Now, they are starting to use them to make sure their staff are in the right place at the right time. You can read about occupancy sensors here.

Using technology to help customers and build loyalty

Right now, repeat custom is like gold dust for retailers. They desperately need customers to come back and buy as much as possible when they do.

Many retailers who have not previously run loyalty programs are investing in the software and hardware to do so. You will also notice that the use of digital signage in retail stores has exploded. Retailers are using them in new and innovative ways to provide their customers with more of what they want. They can change the promotion dozens of times a day. So, when the store is full of families, the offers they display can be tailored to save them money on their purchases. When the customers in the store are mainly elderly, promotions that work better for them can be displayed.

Technology is likely to continue to be the way forward

The above is very positive. But there is one big issue. Technology comes with a cost. So, retailers are having to think long and hard before investing. They need to be sure that they will get a good return on their investment (ROI).

Plus, that return must be fast. Most of the smallest retailers don´t have enough cash in their businesses to be able to afford to wait long for their investment to pay for itself and start improving their profits. Unsurprisingly, it is the technology that requires the lowest investment that is being deployed first. As a result, sales of digital marketing screens, software, and sensors are rising far faster than those of shop-floor robots.

However, multinationals do have more to spend. If you want to learn about more of the technology they are using, click here. There you will find links to studies and statistics that tell you about more advanced tech. Including drone deliveries, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR).

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