The retail sector is one of the largest and perhaps the most profitable industries globally. Small neighborhood stores gradually transformed into department stores and high-tech electronic commerce websites. Combined retail sales all over the world (in-store and web-based purchases) amounted to $22.492 trillion in 2014. These are expected to reach $24 trillion by the end of this year and $28.300 trillion or an increase of 5.5 percent in 2018.
Right now, Germany is the number one retail market worldwide with 70 percent of international retailers.
It is followed by France with 26 percent.
Next is the United Kingdom with 25 percent.
Both Austria and China have 22 percent.
Meanwhile, China and the United States represent the biggest e-commerce markets with accumulated shares of 55 percent of total global online sales also last year.
The UK is the third largest economic spender in the international market.
The retail industry this year will still be pushed further by the choices and preferences of consumers from the millennial and baby boomer generations. Baby boomers (60 to 70 years old) usually have sufficient resources for their day to day needs. On the other hand, Generation Y, which is a young and equally big segment, also have a considerable influence on retail markets. Retailers need to stock up more on mobile devices for the younger customers.
Social networking sites will function as shopping platforms. During the last few years, different companies and brands have turned to social media for marketing; reaching out to potential customers; and making decisions related to merchandising. You can even expect retailers to do selling on social websites. At the same time, more retailers are expected to focus on CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility. In fact, CSR can enhance the shopping experience by making customers believe they contribute to something noble and meaningful.
In terms of loyalty, points for purchase platforms may not be effective anymore. Improvement of shopping experience should not be restricted to customized product offers and suggestions. Innovative retailers should discover more techniques to make the customer journey unique and unforgettable. They will surely concentrate on customer loyalty. Rewards programs may not be as enticing as before since it has become common and monotonous. Retail companies must come up with novel initiatives for rewards and incentives.
Technology has contributed to the enhancement of the retail business. One is the Point of Sale or POS system. This state of the art device ensures that customers are satisfied with their purchases. Thus, retailers must invest in durable and user-friendly POS machines.
The bottom line is technology infrastructure can spell the difference between success and failure of a supermarket, department store or boutique. Aside from the POS, retailers also need effective inventory management techniques, customer service booths and consistent wireless networks. It is good to provide patrons with free Internet usage but this should not affect the store’s connections and avert breaches in security. The guest network must be separated from in-store traffic configuration. Robust IT structure is needed to sustain machine to machine solutions. Such systems can reduce expenditures, upgrade inventories, develop customer loyalty, and generate more income.
Software is crucial to the information technology structure of retailers. Stores will always depend on applications designed for retailers. These include programs for product placement, research, marketing management, and risk management. Principal software resources consist of inventory supervision and forecasting. The latter enables shops to obtain accurate estimates of trends in sales.
Purchasing trends have evolved significantly during the last decade especially with the emergence of Internet technology. For instance, consumers were very suspicious about buying merchandise from online vendors 10 years ago.
Nowadays, more and more people prefer to order from www.amazon.com instead of going to department stores. Traditional retailers are still in but many of these large chains opted to put up their own retail sites. Almost everything can be procured through the web. In fact, many people are comfortable with online banking and transferring money through PayPal.
Online outlets have become one-stop-shops and applicable to practically all types of products.
Increase Sales through R&D and Market
ing More and more retailers are looking at Research and Development to increase sales. R&D can sustain innovation with fewer resources and increase revenues substantially. Research and Development focuses more on allocation of expenditures for technology and knowledge to propel innovation. In turn, this can lead to an increase of productivity and sales.
Retailers also look forward to increase sales through effective marketing strategies and campaigns. This can be accomplished by conducting extensive market research on purchasing habits, demographics, evaluation of consumers’ cultures, generating additional sales leads, and defining new markets. There are also new techniques such as affiliate marketing, networking, online advertising, and leveraging websites.
The international retail market will keep on growing. It is up to today’s generation of sellers to formulate more cost-effective programs in selling their commodities and services.
The environment keeps on changing so merchants have to watch out for varying trends and conditions.