It has been called the beginning of the retail apocalypse. However in the midst of closing storefronts, news of bankruptcy, and slow summer sales, retail continues to grow. In fact, sales are up 2.8% from last year.
Why is this?
It’s not the end of retail, but instead the end of retail as many know it. Gone are the days of catalog shopping, driving miles and miles to your closest store only to realize a product is out of stock, and long checkout lines. Today’s retailers coming out on top, are smart, savvy and know that addressing these common pain points and adapting the way they run their stores will put them ahead.
What exactly are they doing to put them ahead of the curve? They’re making the right investments for their customer base, and focusing their efforts in areas of their business that they know will guarantee growth. The retailers on National Retail Federation’s annual list of top 100 retailers are doing just that. Here are a few of the investments that some of the top 100 retailers made to grow business and keep their customer base happy.
Making Omnichannel First Nature
Walmart came out on top of this year’s list, ahead of Amazon its primary competition. What’s their secret sauce? Investing in their omnichannel experience. Since acquiring Jet.com, they have broadened their U.S ecommerce operation significantly, making it easier for Walmart shoppers to get the deals they love in-store, at the same price online, and delivered to them at their convenience.
Updating Loyalty Programs
Costco spent the last year focusing on customer loyalty, by ramping up its bread and butter: the Costco membership program. This past year they created two levels of the program, a $60 standard membership and a $120 executive option that offers members perks like greater discounts, a 2% annual reward, and travel deals. Its membership program has created a loyal customer base that returns time and time again for the guaranteed quality merchandise and low prices.
Offering Flexible Payment Options
Home Depot knows that their customers are handy and are looking for the best prices to complete all of their home projects. More importantly, they know that these customers have the ability to be fiercely loyal. That’s why the largest home improvement store, has invested in extending its credit program, to ensure that they can empower more customer purchases. With their Home Improver card, and partnership with Vyze, Home Depot is able to offer all of their customers flexible payment options to they can afford every DIY project, no matter how big or small, throughout every season.
Embracing Customer Feedback
Amazon has made a few notable acquisitions this year, expanded into new sectors, and further pushed their line of Amazon branded products. The major driver for this growth, beyond what feels like retail world domination, has been customer feedback, and using it to improve every aspect of their business. They pay attention to customer demands, their expectations from the customer experience, and then work to implement that feedback. For example, to solve the pain point of product returns, Amazon recently created a new refund policy that will give customer refunds without having to send back their products.
Understanding Different Customer Demographics
Target has focused on better understanding its customers and building a business that embraces them. Specifically, this has meant diving into the needs, wants, and buying behaviors of millennial and Gen z generations as they grow older and have more spending power. With tactics like modernizing their product lines with brands that resonate with the digitally savvy generation, updating their branding, and creating inventive marketing campaigns, they’ve established an engaged and loyal customer base.
What else can retailers do now to boost sales by the end of the year? Check out the five things you can do now to get ahead of the shopping rush.