Retail sectors become saturated when more stores are addressing a specific customer need than there is demand. In recent years, the retail industry, in general, has fallen victim to over-saturation. As of 2017, the United States had more than six times the retail square footage per capita of Europe and Japan. And because of this, many retailers have been forced to either alter their business plans or shut their doors completely.
However, not all hope is lost for retail in the United States. There is still significant consumer demand for in-person shopping experiences, even as online shopping becomes more prevalent. Your business will need to get creative to succeed in the current saturated retail environment. Below, you’ll find a few tips to get started.
Target a niche
One of the most effective ways to stand out to a retailer is to target your product line to a more specific niche in your industry. You can do this in a variety of ways. For instance, if you reach out to a clothing store, you may want to consider collaborating with a trending clothing brand. Consider what might have the biggest market, and then start advertising your business around that niche.
Or, if you reach out to an electronics store, begin customizing your line towards the latest trends in video games or eSports. Doing this can be an excellent way to stand out from your local and online competition.
There are many benefits your business can get out of targeting a niche. The process works because customers enjoy shopping at places they believe have specialized knowledge of their favorite products. Consumers also appreciate the added selection of their favorite items that are generally available from specialty stores. Your retail company will also enjoy benefits like:
- Increased visibility
- Word of mouth growth
- Honed expertise
- Better customer relationships
Consider price reductions
This is a tip that no business owner wants to hear. However, it may be the best way to remain competitive in your saturated retail environment. Lowering your prices, even if only briefly, will help move more customers to pick up your items off the shelf. Today’s consumers are smart and considerate. They do their research before shopping for most of the items they purchase, which means that if your price is cheaper online you will be shooting yourself in the foot with retailers.
Of course, lowering prices may not be a good idea for every company. It can be especially challenging to gain an edge here due to the low production costs for some of your industry’s largest names. Still, this strategy is certainly worth considering as a means of generating more movement of your products off the shelf.
Create and emphasize a unique value proposition
A unique value proposition is one of the most effective ways to make your brand stand out in a competitive retail environment, and shows your customers why they should be interested in your product line instead of others. However, it isn’t always clear how to go about creating a unique value proposition.
Experts recommend that your unique value proposition include relevancy, quantified value, and differentiation. Relevancy means explaining how your product works to solve a problem that customers are experiencing. Quantified value means getting specific about the benefits that your company and products provide. Differentiation is a clear statement that shows why a customer should buy from you instead of your competition.
Think about how each of these three things can be incorporated into your company’s unique value proposition. Once you’ve identified them, focus on putting it all together in a clear way that your customers will understand immediately. Avoid using industry jargon. Instead, put a statement together in language that anybody can understand. Doing this can make a real difference to how many customers you attract to your stores.
Focus on local
One of the advantages that retail stores have over online vendors is their locations. The stores you’re selling into exist in local communities, which are full of potential customers. Instead of replicating everything that successful online sellers do, differentiate your brand by showing how it has integrated itself within the community it calls home. One way to accomplish this is by getting involved in local events and driving foot traffic to the stores that have your line on the shelf.
You may also want to create targeted marketing campaigns that speak directly to residents of the store’s community. These can be especially effective if you can emphasize a founding story that reflects deep roots in your region. You can also address consumer problems with your marketing that are specific to the area you operate in. It’s another example of how you can make your company stand out in a competitive market.
Improve your customer service
The value of providing excellent customer service is well-established. Seventy-seven percent of consumers view brands more favorably when brands seek out and apply customer feedback. Additionally, customers tell an average of nine people about a positive experience with a brand, but 16 people about a negative experience. With stats like these, it’s easy to see why your company should make customer service a priority.
You can stand out through customer service in several different ways. Start by doing everything in your power to solve a customer’s issue whenever one arises. Prioritize this even if it means taking a short-term loss. Additionally, you may want to consider providing your consumers with free items like samples and merchandising products. Doing so will quickly earn your company a positive reputation for being easy to work with, which may even make up for some of the areas where your company is currently lacking.
Retail success is still possible
The most important thing to remember is that it’s still possible to find retail success in saturated markets. Your brand just needs to get creative with how it conducts itself. Focusing on niches, local marketing, customer service, and the other tips covered in this article are an excellent blueprint to accomplish your goals. Good luck and happy selling.
Established 1989 | Mr. Checkout is a product manager for nearly 1,000 Independent DSD Distributors, Full-Line Grocery Distributors and Wagon-Jobbers in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. We represent products in over 60 major retailers and manage 13 industry associations with over 150,000 independent retail members.
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