Staying relevant and profitable in today’s retail environment requires responding to the needs of the new “connected” consumer and staying on top of the trends currently disrupting traditional retail. This includes price-savvy consumers who brag about paying less for more but still expect value, convenience and experience.
Many of these are Millennials — frugal shoppers who are not particularly brand loyal. At about a third of the population, they are a powerful force as they enter their prime spending years. Right behind them is Generation Z, who prioritize product availability and price above all. While Gen Zs (about 15% of the population) are still too young to wield much retail clout, their approach to brands is already fueling growth in unconventional forms of shopping, such as rental and resale.
Despite all the challenges, shrinking margins and lost business to online competitors, many Cantrex Members are managing to do better and better every year. We are so proud to have them as part of the Cantrex family! Here’s a quick checklist of what it takes to join their ranks.
Know Your Customer
Do you know who your customers are, their age, their income, who are loyal repeats, who are new? If you don’t already have a customer database with demographics, you can create social events and other incentives (a loyalty program, discounts in exchange for signing up to your blog, etc.) to collect this crucial information. Only then can you tailor your merchandising and product mix to maximize sales and loyalty. Cantrex’s team can help you do this by recommending an appropriate core product mix, which might include adding a new product category (like spas or BBQs).
Know What’s Generating Profits
More than a third of shoppers say that having the right product in stock is key, so take a close look at your inventory. Is it generating margins or merely taking up space? Do you liquidate and replace with more profitable stock when necessary? Have you considered displaying product vertically on your walls to increase profit per square foot? Or repurposing your space by offering cultural programming, events, entertainment or dining experiences? Some innovative retailers are generating traffic by subletting the front of their store to a coffee shop. Turning your store into a destination is sure to pay off.
Another way to increase profitability is to offer solutions like connected home, installation, enhanced customer service and other ancillary services. This has made all the difference to our photo Members, for example. After losing market share to smartphones, they are doing well again by adding such new services as framing, specialized printing and photo courses.
Of course, you also need great products and healthy margins to stay profitable and grow. That’s why we’ve been relentless in finding product lines that deliver the best margins possible to our Members, including vendors that allow you to carry little or no inventory. With all the data Cantrex has at its fingertips, we can help you analyze what’s working and what’s not in your business.
Are you prepared for the connected Millennials and Gen Z, the first generation to be born into digital technology? Digital marketing is already pervasive, but you need to know which platform to use and when to use it. If you’re not already doing digital marketing or are unhappy with the performance of your digital program, our expert team can help you get on board and/or manage the ROI of each media platform.
Train Your Employees to Meet Consumer Expectations
Today’s consumers expect staff to be knowledgeable and available for service and support. Your employees need to be committed, trained, trustworthy and skilled — with trust taking center stage. Cantrex can help you introduce the principles of Speed of Trust to drive organizational performance, improve engagement and efficiency, and ensure that objectives are clear and that everyone is on the same page.
As daunting as the challenges of today’s retail environment may appear, our successful Members are clearly demonstrating that it is possible to increase your bottom line year after year. Remember: you are not alone. Your Cantrex team is here to help you go beyond, to get ahead of the curve!
Jeannine Ghaleb is President and COO of Cantrex Nationwide, which represents Canadian Members of Nationwide Marketing Group