...the toughest it has been for a long time.
Times ‘have’ changed, I believe it is not so much a market shift, but a consumer shift.
The consumer paradigm is now demanding more attention, more access, more loyalty, more knowledge from retailers because the digital age provides them with almost everything whenever they want it.- BUT they still cannot touch it, so retailers still have a unique selling proposition.
With a few quick Google searches, frequenting a few blogs and joining discussions on a few forums I can find out more than the than i used to and seemingly a lot more than average retailer of a product. Product knowledge is a very important aspect for retailers to absorb over the next decade or so.
Last month I was trying to find a product. First I visited a retailer and tried to find it there, with no luck I went online and did find it there, but discovered that the brand was only distributing through Authorized retailers.
So I called the Authorised retailer and asked for them to source the product for me. They had limited idea about what I was talking about and in the end I educated the retailer about the product, the sizing, the colour etc. All of which I had already previously researched online.
2 days later I received a call letting me know that they cannot order my product in for me, as it is not available.
So I could find it online, I just cannot order it online as it is only distributed through Authorised retailers. The authorised dealer who has the license in my part of the world has limited idea about the product and cannot order that product in. With further questioning, there was no justifiable reason for this.
In the end, I gave up and moved on.
Here are some of my thoughts on retailing:
• Educate retailers before you authorise them (or immediately after)
• The digital age means that your customers are more demanding than ever before.
• There is a high likelihood that they might be more knowledgeable than your retailers.
• Invest in education strategy to accompany a sales and marketing strategy
• Your brand is only as memorable as my last touch point with it (I say touch point as I cannot touch it on the internet)
• It makes limited sense to a customer that they cannot order a product because of where they live
• Your customers should not have to work for you, research for you, and create a system to fill in your gaps.
• In the end if you continually fail to connect and engage your prospects will give up and move on.
• …and the digital world will be waiting.