I recently learned about a company called ENJOY. Enjoy has no stores. They are a 100% online reseller of consumer electronic products like Apple TV, GoPro, etc. I know what you are thinking, Amazon, right? The thing is, ENJOY takes it to the next level! When you buy a product from ENJOY, they deliver it in person, set it up for you if necessary, and teach you how to use it, all for the same price as buying the product on Amazon or Best Buy. They are currently only in very specific markets, New York and San Francisco and soon to be Chicago. Love it (I do!) or hate it, but in my humble opinion this is a glimpse into the future of retail.
The next question is, what’s next for retail flooring and are you ready? Now, don’t stop reading because it scares you to think about the future or because you think you aren’t ready. That’s okay, technically, no one is perfectly prepared for the future. None of us knows what the future will bring, but there are things we can do to prepare and plan for the future in order future proof your businesses.
Here is what we know about the future for sure: 1. The population is changing and thus the way people shop and buy is changing, and 2. technology is changing the way consumers shop and buy as well as how businesses operate. With that said, the following are some trends you can count on to change your business in the future and some personal advice on how to future proof you business.
“The world of retail is going through some huge changes. Cloud computing, mobile, and big data have changed the retail game, and merchants need to adapt to the new rules and take advantage of non-traditional tools in order to win.” Francesca Nicasio, Marketing Expert from Vend
Trends to learn more about and begin acting on to future proof your business:
- Millennials will soon account for 30% of consumer spending! In recent months, Millennials (those born between 1980 & 2000) became the largest generation in the US, surpassing Baby Boomers and becoming a major force on the future of our economy. This means, mobile friendly websites, a social media presence, yelp and twitter reviews are extremely important to your business. Does your business accommodate for the technology expectations, shopping behaviors and communication needs of Millennials? It’s time to retool and learn more about this powerful demographic and how they will change the future of retail. Learn more: recent article in FCW!
- Retailers must have an Omnichannel strategy! Along with preparing for future consumers (Millennials) all generations are changing the way they shop. The buzzword in retail is “Omnichannel” and if you haven’t heard of it, let me quickly explain. Omnichannel is in essence combining all of the shopping channels your customers use into one integrated experience. In other words, if they shop on your website, they may want to buy online and pick up at the store, or if they decide they want to research online and then come into the store to purchase and have the product shipped to their house, etc. It basically means your online, mobile and in-store experience must be seamless to the consumer. Learn More Here!
- Data is King! Thanks to the internet and the cloud there are numerous technologies, capturing real-time, consumer and business data which is more and more accessible to small businesses. This information can assist small to medium size businesses in making educated, real-time, strategic decisions the same way large companies have been doing for years. It use to be you had to buy this information from large research companies like Nielsen, but now you can get information from google analytics and other software programs from right inside your store. These programs captures valuable data to help you evaluate your business. A CRM, like the Lead Tool will capture and provide valuable business data which allows you to monitor your business from anywhere and helps you make key, real-time, business decisions. Those who capitalize on this data have the ability to adjust to market conditions much quicker than their competitors and you can bet your a$$, Home Depot and Lowes are using their data to try to put you out of business! Learn More Here!
“When the time comes to expand your retail business, how will you know? Some shop owners decide purely on gut feeling. Some people decide based on excess cash-flow. Forward thinking retailers decide because they see the signs in the data.” Vaughan Rowsell, Vend Founder and CEO
All of this is fascinating (to me at least), but also overwhelming. The point is, even though you can’t predict everything about the future of retail, you can make changes based on what you know for sure. We know Millennials will and are having a profound impact on retail, we know technology is changing the way all people shop and we know technology is creating efficiencies and providing information which will help entrepreneurs run their businesses more effectively. Now, how do we keep up?
I suggest spending an hour or two each week (block the time on your calendar), researching trends and learning about different business resources. Google it! “What is shaping the future of retail?” Do some research on different topics that interest you. Reach out to cutting edge operations and leaders that you admire, not only in your industry, but in other industries. Listen to your trade organizations, vendors and the salespeople trying to sell you stuff. A common resource I have found are vendor blogs like ours. Vendors are motivated to capture warm leads so they will give you valuable information and research without any commitment (at most, just an email address). Listen to their demonstrations so you are aware of what’s out there. There is no obligation to buy and you will learn pretty quickly if they actually care about your business or they are just peddling crap.
I am amazed at how many entrepreneurs we talk with who tell us they aren’t interested in growing their business or providing a better customer experience or improving their operation and my all time favorite, “we aren’t interested in making anymore money!” Are you kidding me? I know you are busy but that is ridiculous and it downright insulting. When you blow off salespeople without knowing what they are selling, you literally do not want to make anymore money. Every serious business person has 5 to 15 minutes to learn about something that might help their business and become more educated about their industry.
The Lead Tool is a CRM for the flooring and building materials retail industry. In general, CRM’s have an average ROI of over 700%. If you aren’t willing to hear about something that could potentially give you that kind of return, you are on your way out of business.
An hour or two of research a week will uncover a few key trends which will keep you in the know on what is coming and give you ideas on a few simple things you can implement into your business. Ideally, you can try to make one or two major investments each year to keep your business moving forward. This may not make your business cutting edge but it will help keep it from becoming a dinosaur!
Side Note: One of the best suggestions I received early on in my career was taking at least one personal and team retreat per year. Take a day with your team to get away from your store and do something fun and/or include some team building stuff. Carve out some time to listen to their thoughts, ideas and suggestions for the business. They will love you for asking even if you don’t do anything they suggest. Also, take a day or two or even better, a week and go somewhere relaxing, yet inspiring and read, research, brainstorm about your business, recapping the year and planning for the coming year. I have never regretted taking time like this in the past.
Finally, the following are some resources/articles you may be interested in to help get you started as well as the links I have scattered throughout the article:
I’d Match Your Standards If They Weren’t So Low, Chris Ramey, Floor Covering Weekly, 4/25/2016
The Shopper-Centric Store of the Future, Kindra Tatarsky, RetailNext
Jim Augustus Armstrong, Flooring Success Systems, Flooring Retail Consultant