Retail businesses have had a rough go in recent times. There have been economic downturns, new technologies, a shift in markets and consumer behaviors, new competition from unexpected sources, showrooming and a host of other issues to deal with. But things have been picking up lately and there are a lot of things to be thankful for. I asked my fellow Yaffe folks to help me come up with a list of things retailers should be thankful for this Thanksgiving. And here it is:
Black Friday has grown beyond a one day phenomenon. Black Friday was called that because it was one day that could get your leger in the black. Now, not only has it spawned Small Business Saturday, Sofa Sunday and Cyber Monday, it has practically become a month long event. Many retailers have been promoting Black Friday deals for weeks now and it seems to be pulling consumers into their stores.Black Friday has become a brand all to itself and it's a powerful one all retailers can use.
The economy is getting more stable. Consumer confidence is up, the stock market is up, new home sales are up. With the stock market up, people are feeling wealthier, even if it's only "on paper" wealth, which gives them the confidence to spend more. Even those who aren't in the stock market feel this confidence and are more willing to spend now. It may not be the hay day of the 80's, but the economy is looking better than it has in a long while and that should hopefully lead to a strong holiday shopping season.
We've had plenty of "retail sunshine" this fall. As one retailer put it, retail sunshine is when the weather is crappy out there so people like to go into the stores because they can't be outside. Most of the country has had it's share of retail sunshine in recent weeks. Of course, if you're in Buffalo, NY, you've had too much bad weather to the point of hampering business, so you're forgiven if you don't find this point one to be thankful for.
The ease of connecting to customers via technology. As we move into the digital/mobile/social media age, we have more touchpoints with our customers. This allows retailers to better engage with them and have a better understanding of customers wants and needs. With that information, you're able to customize both messaging and offers to your customers. This results in better chances to move the sales needle.
The ability to sell via the internet. As we see with Sofa Sunday and Cyber Monday, along with mobile shopping, more and more customers are shopping online. That doesn't mean you have to take a hit in sales if you are a brick and mortar store. In fact, it gives you the opportunity to increase your bottom line with less overhead. And even if your site doesn't allow you to sell online yet, you can use the internet to market your goods to those who are searching/shopping online and pull them into your store with attractive offers or prices.
It's easier to get exponential growth via modern word of mouth when you do good things. Providing excellent customer service is always a good thing. You will get more business via word of mouth. But now, with social media, review sites, blogging and other digital word of mouth media, Companies like Zappos have gotten phenomenal growth out of stellar customer service. Same goes for being a good corporate citizen, being green or doing social good in the world. All these things that might have gotten a little PR buzz years ago now expand exponentially across the internet, netting you more potential customers.
Those are a few of the things we came up with. Thanks to my fellow Yaffe teammates for helping fill out the list. What other things can you think of that retailers should be thankful for?