The world has never experienced a single marketplace where shoppers from anywhere in the world can buy from any vendor in the world, until today.
This single characteristic has fundamentally changed the complexion of how retail operates. Early vendors knew their customers and provided products desired by their communities. The efficiency of the mall changed the dynamic by forcing vendors to merge into a destination where goods could be efficiently delivered.
The internet has gone the next step by taking the shopping mall to the comfort of your home. You can search the globe and find exactly what you want, as you want it, when you want it, at the touch of your finger.
Retail businesses are working to shift focus from a supply chain fixed structure to a customer-centric focus. This is a massive shift for retailers who have invested in warehouses and warehouse material handling systems, that were determining when a season would start and the cadence of when goods would be available. Today, consumers are determining the start and end of a season. Micro retailers are now popping up that provide exactly what is desired by consumers.
Key components to winning customers:
Distributive logistics. Products must be in a forward location within a day of your customers. Inventories need to be easily managed so they do not expand, which ensures critical operating capital is maintained for the business.
Micro-marketing. Teams must know their customers, where they shop, and where they connect with friends. They must use digital platforms in creative ways to “talk” to their customers and understand their interests, likes and needs. They must engage their customer on all fronts (e.g., bricks and mortar, e-commerce, etc.). Products must be uniquely available to individual markets as desired. The days of a one-size-fits-all assortment is gone. Sellers must develop an assortment of products that engages each market uniquely.
Speedy design. Products must be generated quickly with high quality at affordable prices. Style, quality and cost must be closely managed and delivered in a timely framework. Manufacturing operations must be nimble and efficient. Product changeovers must be streamlined. Raw materials supply lines must be fundamentally changed to provide near real-time supply at a reasonable price.
Customer focus. Customers must become connected to your brand. Customers want more than a purveyor of goods, they want a business they can get behind and believe in. This requires that you create a relationship with your customers. You must engage them and understand their needs and drivers. It will take work, but any good relationship is worth investing in.
Access in multiple forms. Customers want an easy interaction and availability in any form when needed. This will require a balance of bricks and mortar and virtual shopping. Making the experience easy and user friendly says you value your customers' time.
Sellers must deliver their products in a construct where the customer perceives you are adding value in the process. They want to pay a reasonable price and receive benefits that recognize their importance in your growth and appreciation for their business.
The retail revolution is upon us and buyers now hold the power position in the supply-demand curve. The retail operation must integrate all of today’s technology into a seamless and efficient supply chain to provide access to goods at the time and place where consumers want it. You must create a connection with your customers and understand their interest, needs and demand drivers.
Scott Moon is vice president of solution modeling for MonarchFx.
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