How to counter the seismic shift in the retail market (part 2)
In part one of our two-part series, we looked at how diversifying your sales channels and embracing digital tools can help retail companies get ahead. In this chapter, we delve into how streamlining operations and focusing on community and customer relationships are key to success.
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Driving digital transformation in the retail industry
Streamlining operations to cut costs and maximize efficiency
Automation is truly the crux of successful digital transformation for businesses. Automating many operational processes can not only help you save time and money but also free up your employees’ time to focus on more meaningful tasks.
For example, when your sales reps don’t need to spend so much time on admin and order processing, they can focus on winning new business for your company. They can also work on strengthening the existing customer relationships that are crucial to a successful wholesale business.
Similarly, when your B2C teams aren’t manually tracking orders and placing shipments, they can work on building the online communities that thriving brands now rely on. After all, great service and strong relationships are especially crucial for smaller brands to differentiate themselves from the digital giants that may be able to offer consumers lower prices on the same or similar products.
Despite the shift towards online buying, today’s buyers aren’t as trusting of traditional brands as previous generations. For example, a 2015 survey by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics found 88% of millennials say they only “sometimes” or “never” trust the media.
When it comes to their purchasing decisions, this generation is putting their faith in peers and social influencers to inform their buying decisions. A 2018 Shareablee report found 37% of millennials said they’re more likely to trust a brand after seeing an influencer post about it.
Accordingly, smart brands like Everlane, Casper and Dollar Shave Club, are turning to these trusted influencers and social media communities to put their products in front of customers and take advantage of the crowd-led marketing that’s most effective for online-first buyers.
Aside from the opportunity to establish a presence where customers are already interacting, these communities make the ideal focus groups for B2C and B2B businesses alike.
Wholesalers can look to these communities to gauge the market and help their buyers better understand the needs consumers have and the ways they want to shop. Retailers can also use these communities to determine interest in new products and grow brand awareness.
“On-the-ground” insights collected from online communities can also help businesses effectively forecast and scale in ways that were never before possible. What’s more, digital technologies, such as CRM portals and digital automation tools, make fostering these relationships and communities even easier.