Retail innovation – how to stay ahead of the curve

The retail industry is fast-paced and in a constant state of flux. Despite a general global economic slump, retail sales world-over are on the rise. Recent data published by the suggests that menswear grew at a faster global pace than womenswear – up 4.5 per cent versus 3.7 per cent. And by 2019 menswear is expected to reach $40 billion in worldwide sales. We see this as an enormous opportunity — technology and the internet has completely changed the retail landscape, consumers now hold all the power. While businesses used to dictate consumer spending patterns, now it is all they can do keep up with consumer needs. However, there are a few tricks for retail business owners looking to stay ahead of the curve. By focusing on utilising the latest technology, updating processes and customer engagement, retailers can not only keep up with trends, but start leading and innovating in their space.

Be flexible and available at all times

Modern consumers don’t have the traditional spending patterns retail businesses are used to taking advantage of. Consumers want to buy anywhere, anytime. As such, for many retailers, an omnichannel approach is a great option. There are still consumers out there that prefer to buy from a physical store, deriving comfort from being able to see and hold the item. However, with nearly two thirds of Australians having made purchases over their phones, mobile compatibility has become a necessity for retail businesses.

Use data to your advantage

Linking a physical store with an online channel is essential in creating a synergistic business model. The individual data gathered from accounts online can be implemented when a customer comes in-store. Information like spending patterns, item choices and navigation decisions can paint a vivid picture of what the customer wants, before they even step into the store.

Constantly re-evaluate and innovate your processes

It can be easy as a retail business owner to fall into the trap of thinking you have your processes down pat, the customers you are exposed to are happy and the business is ticking along nicely. However, there is always room for improvement. It is crucial that business owners step back and closely examine their business processes and see where time or costs can be saved. This will not only help build revenue but also result in a more convenient and affordable product for your customers.

Australia’s fast-paced retail environment creates challenges for business owners looking to stay ahead of the curve. Constant re-evaluation of your product and service has become a necessary part of the industry. Adoption of the latest retail innovation technology and processes is crucial in keeping up with an evolving consumer base, whose needs shift on what seems to be a monthly basis. However, within this seething mass of shifting expectations lies opportunity. An entrepreneurial retail business owner who is not afraid to challenge the status quo within his industry, fully utilise the latest technology and aggressively target new demographics will almost certainly see success.

James Wakefield, CEO, InStitchu –

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