The pandemic wasn’t something the world — most especially retail businesses — was prepared for. A report on Fortune even reveals that 12,200 stores have closed or filed for bankruptcy due to the many challenges the pandemic posed. The pandemic also brought about a host of emerging trends, technological advances, and changing customer preferences retailers needed to adapt to in order to survive. So what would happen if another economic-disrupting event like this occurs in the future? What we know now is that retailers must future-proof their businesses and prepare for the worst.
Here’s how you can achieve just that:
Offer an online shop
The pandemic may have accelerated its adoption, but online shopping is here to stay. We said as much in our post on ‘The Latest Retail Screen Innovations‘. As such, it’s important to offer online shopping services so that you continue to get an income regardless of what’s happening in the world. Its convenience and accessibility provide customers an avenue to purchase from you at all times. You can also immediately adjust prices when necessary, should the market be directly affected by inflation or other external factors.
To build a website for your store, hire a web developer to code and manage your website. If you prefer to do it yourself, utilize e-commerce platforms like Shopify or Wix. And if you already have a website, it’s always good practice to offer more items on it and improve its interface. Growing an online shop takes time; don’t wait for another crisis before you make one.
Upskill your employees
Talent development is the most efficient way for businesses to ensure that their company will be ready to adapt to changing times. In fact, a skills gap report on LHH states that 49% of organizations are increasing their efforts when it comes to upskilling and training opportunities for their employees as a result of the pandemic. Upskilling not only allows your employees to do their current jobs but also helps them adapt to changes that occur in the industry. For example, online shopping was not always common. However, with the pace that it is being adopted into businesses at present, retail employees must understand how to cater to this new market to continue to operate. And this requires specific skill sets.
Therefore, it’s important to hold regular training and development sessions for your employees to attend. They should teach them necessary retail skills such as customer service, communication, and multi-tasking. Online retail skills courses are also available through platforms such as Ed App and Coursera.
Adopting automated customer service is another way you can future-proof your business. According to a report from the Future of Sourcing, these greatly decrease the need for human dependency, so you can provide customer assistance or product support to patrons no matter the economic situation – such as when you don’t have enough workers onsite. The most popular way to implement this is to have chatbots that can automatically reply to customers’ queries and complaints. They can operate 24/7 despite time zones, so customers don’t have to wait for office hours to talk to a customer service representative. Some popular AI chatbots include Tidio and Drift.
Whether it is a global health crisis, new trends, or economic factors, future-proofing your retail business allows you to stay afloat despite the challenges that may come your way. It’s important that your market research team is always on top of the latest consumer trends so that you are adjusting to meet these new consumer trends. This way, if something unexpected happens in the future, your company will be ready to pivot faster than your competition.