Direct to consumer brands restructure retail strategies

Remember when “As Seen on TV” products were only available by calling the number on the television screen? Products such as Chia Pet, The Clapper and even The Snuggie all became pop culture icons by infiltrating TV programming.

But as the internet took off around the turn of the century, companies found less expensive and more strategic ways to sell their products. Enter Warby Parker, Everlane and Casper, which made up the first generation of digitally native DTC companies.

Back then, those brands and others like them were happy selling a relatively niche product online without all the costs associated with brick-and-mortar retail distribution.

Today however, DTC companies are evolving to further expand their market share, joining forces with large, well-known retailers and big-box stores, as well as with holding groups.

Such collaboration is paying off, both in revenue and mindshare.

This expansion requires software with flexibility that allows for organizational intricacies.

The distribution and audience gains require resources through their software that can shift to support the areas that get new stress.

Retail Pro Prism’s flexible software with a vast library of Plugins and omnichannel support provide the necessary visibility and capabilities for brands to adjust their technology according to their strategies.

Embracing Brick-and-Mortar

Partnering with brick-and-mortar retailers has provided DTC brands access to a wider consumer base and the opportunity for more personalized customer experiences.

The ability for customers to experience these products in person is a huge win, and makes a true omnichannel experience possible.

With the integrated inventory visibility afforded in Retail Pro Prism, customers can check in-store stock of an item, place the order, and immediately experience it upon pick up in store.

Entering the brick-and-mortar space as a previously pure ecommerce brand also likely requires the inventory and broader data integration and visibility that omnichannel brings.

Retail Pro Prism provides flexibility in configuring your omnichannel POS system, so you can adjust it as you grow to satisfy your business’s changing needs.

In addition, Retail Pro Prism has a built-in customer management system that enables an associate to access prior purchase history, note preferences and other relevant information that makes for the kind of personalized customer experience shoppers have grown accustomed to online.

Direct to consumer brands Joining Forces with Holding Groups

Holding groups provide financial backing, operational support and expertise to a larger network of retail partners, so brands can scale their operations and consolidate resources more efficiently.

An example of this arrangement is the partnership between Casper, the popular mattress-in-a-box company, and Target Corp. Since 2017, Casper products have been sold on Target’s site and in its stores. The strategy allowed Casper to expand its reach outside of online sales and tap into Target’s extensive retail network, broadening its brand visibility.

Meanwhile, Target could provide its customers a popular DTC brand’s innovative sleep products, which aligned with the big box store’s focus on providing high-quality and trendy home goods.

There are a number of ways a large chain can structure their POS system, and even more configurations could be made to sell these DTC brands’ products within the larger big box ecosystem.

With Retail Pro Prism, vendor management capabilities are useful in these arrangements between specialty brands and big box retail. Subsidiary management capabilities in Retail Pro Prism are pertinent as well.  The connected data and visibility across all levels of operation that Prism facilitates will be valuable in these circumstances.

A connected view of inventory will be necessary for the DTC brand to maintain the seamless online experiences they are known for when venturing into the brick & mortar experience.

The rise of DTC brands has revolutionized the retail industry, prompting brick and mortar stores to reevaluate their perceptions of what customers want.

As brick and mortars look to fulfill those needs, DTCs are seeking to increase the ways in which they can reach new customers.

Collaborations with holding groups have allowed DTC brands to work more efficiently, while their bigger retail partners are able to offer smaller, innovative brands.

The success of those partnerships is evident in the increased revenue and mindshare gained by DTC brands.

And, as the retail landscape continues to evolve, more partnerships between DTC brands and established retailers can be expected, further shaping the future of customer shopping experiences.

Connecting with Generation Z

Generation Z includes retailers’ first set of digitally native consumers. Born after 1996, these customers have never known a world without the internet.

As a result, they have high expectations of interconnectedness between online and in-store shopping experiences. Smartphone in hand, they browse merchandise online and pickup in-store while communicating in real-time with friends on social networks, apps and text messages.

They were born to shop omnichannel style.

Different paths to purchase for different generations

Sometimes also referred to as “Centennials,” they, together with the previous generation of Millennials comprise more than half of the world’s population.

But the two groups approach shopping very differently.

Whereas Millennials eschewed purchasing “things” in favor of experiences, Centennials are happy to buy technology as well as health and wellness products.

More than any other generation, Gen Z shoppers tend to rely on mobile channels first, particularly YouTube and Instagram. Snapchat and TikTok figure into the mix as well.

Once the initial product research is completed, the brand itself comes under scrutiny.

Many in this age group have bought products because they have values that align with the retailer or brand. Others have boycotted a business to show disapproval of certain practices.

Gen Z is very attuned to the retail ecosystem and not only wants to be a part of it but also understands how to influence it. Irregardless, a syncing of data and inventory across channels is an important feature for brands that want to remove barriers to purchase for Gen Z consumers.

Retail Pro Prism gives retailers the ability to have a centralized view of their inventory across channels, in turn allowing them to give this to their customers.

Loyalty motivators for Gen Z

With a spending power of more than $140 billion, retailers are learning that though digitally native, Gen Z cares about connections and community.

They prefer to shop where they can chat with their friends online as well as with store associates in person, while feeling confident that their purchase decisions are supporting businesses that treat employees well and are not harmful to the environment.

Stores such as Nordstrom combine a traditional brick-and-mortar setting with the more personal experience of a pop-up store.

Mobile POS easily creates a personal feel as it allows sales associates to meet customers where they’re at, whether for item lookup or free-standing checkout, and lends itself perfectly to pop-up environments.

Retail Pro readily supports mobile POS since it’s a browser-based software, which means you can choose whether to use it on Apple, Windows, or Android devices.

AI-driven software helps retailers gather information and analyze data of Gen Z shoppers, which they can use to help create intimate experiences and personalized moments.

Those retailers who have established and communicated an authentic identity that mirrors Gen Z’s ethos will be rewarded with these shoppers’ loyalty.

Timely Delivery vs. Sustainability values

While all demographics want fast, reliable delivery, research finds that Gen Zers are the most impatient. Many want same-day delivery and yet are also very interested in carbon-neutral or emission-free deliveries.

While that appears to be a somewhat conflicted stance, these shoppers are also willing to pay more for more sustainable delivery and returns services: They understand the consequences (higher cost) for the services they want (faster, ecologically responsible delivery).

Retail Pro Prism gives you a clear view of across your channels, which increases your ability to identify points where you might be able to save time for your associates and customers’ orders.

Top retailers are investing in key technologies that provide the enhanced customer experience these young consumers are demanding.

Digital customers will check websites for in-store inventory even for stores that don’t have BOPIS or curbside pickup, which leads to a disconnect between channels that ultimately can lead to customers going to competitors.

As younger generations are digitally native, they’ll embrace technology, digitization and collaboration, and require the brands they buy to do the same.

For retailers, that will lead to more success and profitability.

Pop-Up Stores Support an Omnichannel Vision

Two smiling young women outside of a pop-up store, one holding bags looking over the other's shoulder as she holds up her phone

Pop-ups project a fun, trendy and intimate attitude to customers, and for retailers they can function as an integral part of an omnichannel strategy.

Pop-up stores represent a temporary opportunity for shoppers to take advantage of something new that a brand wants to promote. Businesses can also use pop-ups to test out new technology before making a larger change in their stores.

Pop-Ups creating Omnichannel Buzz

Three young ladies looking at their phones smiling outside a Pop up

By their very nature, they generate buzz, and that can be parlayed into creating an excitement for a retailer’s other channels: online, mobile and in-store.

For example, a retailer might incorporate QR codes into a display that leads them to a scavenger hunt via the brand’s app.

The app might then continue the fun through gamification during the checkout process. Looping in a loyalty or rewards program adds to the positive and interactive customer experience.

Pop-Ups and Social Media Incentives

Pop-ups naturally complement social media. The excitement created by suggesting a “limited engagement” combined with an engaging atmosphere encourages interaction with customers.

The result is an experience that social influencers can’t resist. Social engagement generates enthusiasm for the pop-up store, and vice versa.

Exciting pop-up experiences attract hardcore social media users who can’t help but share how they spent their time interacting with the brand.   And that publicity doesn’t just impact these small satellite shops; once followers see what their favorite influencers are raving about, they’ll start visiting not only the pop-ups but also the brick-and-mortar sites, as well as related websites.

Brand Awareness Boost

man looking at a very well-known brand of shoe

Brand awareness and connecting with consumers are the two most popular reasons for launching a pop-up.

Customers have become burnt out from traditional “push” marketing tactics such as paid ads, and pop-ups offer a fresh take for brands to get attention.

They encourage customers to not only shop, but also to take part in marketing the brand.

Pop-ups can pair the physical storefront with digital marketing. They are the springboard for an omnichannel journey.

Having the right POS platform helps retailers that collect data from new customers they’ve attracted at a pop-up event and parlay them into future loyal customers; the POS data from the event is seamlessly and efficiently integrated with every channel.

That’s where a POS platform and customer management system for omnichannel retail – like Retail Pro Prism – comes in.

As a hybrid from both the physical and digital worlds, they tie all channels together – functioning as a place for completing transactions, fulfilling purchases, building community, and encouraging discovery as well as being their own unique destinations.

4 ways to use pop-ups’ popularity to boost your brick & mortar strategy

Are DTC brands coming of age?

DTC brands are beginning to populate traditional retailers of many brands 
Beautiful asian woman holding shopping bag and smiling looking at perfume display in a big box retailer,

Many direct-to-consumer brands are reevaluating how they do business – and leaving the one-to-one intimacy with customers for a more traditional method of getting their products to more customers.

By embracing a wholesale strategy, often in conjunction with DTC methods,  these brands are developing a more robust omnichannel presence. 

An omnichannel presence is crucial to success in retail, as consumers have become used to having plenty of choices and will often choose convenience above most.

Omnichannel stat. Retail Pro Prism provides the capability for omnichannel operations and retail management.

Difficult circumstances for one channel of discovery

Woman sitting in bed, blowing on her mug and looking at a laptop, browsing DTC brands

For example, in February, digitally native beauty brand Glossier announced its partnership with makeup mega-retailer Sephora.

Glossier’s products will be on shelves at 600 Sephora stores across the United States and Canada, as well as online and on the Sephora App.

The brand’s jump to traditional retail came after a trial run with wholesale sales in 2020, when Glossier experimented with its “Glossier You” fragrance that it sold in seven U.S. brick-and-mortar Nordstrom locations.

The shift for Glossier hasn’t been easy; the brand has reorganized, replacing its CEO and laying off employees as it moves from a single channel of distribution.

However, its experience highlights how DTC brands can realign their resources to help them navigate the ways in which their customers want to engage. 

Additionally, new DTC brands are partnering with wholesalers from the get-go to build visibility and build their customer base.

DTC brands have had massive access to data from having sole access to all the data of their customers due to website-based operations.

The traditional retailers have learned from DTC and aimed to replicate the level of data for a personal loyal relationship with customers.

The cost of a customer

Customers being shown a DTC brand of TV of many in a traditional brick & mortar store.

Keeping customers is a far less expensive proposition than acquiring them, but for DTC brands, it’s imperative to increase their base in addition to keeping loyal customers happy and engaged.

DTC brands often start as small, trendy brands that appeal to a particular niche.

For example, the launch of Warby Parker addressed a customer need for affordable, attractive eyeglasses.

By bypassing wholesalers and retailers, DTC brands such as Warby Parker and Glossier have removed the costs associated with having intermediaries between manufacturers and consumers.

As they grow, however, DTC brands are realizing they need to cost-effectively increase their distribution channels.

Expansion is easier with wholesalers’ large customer base as part of the equation. Rising inflation rates are increasing operating costs; goods are more expensive to produce.

Expanding reach for DTC brands

Asian man holding a tablet POS with Retail Pro Prism software on it standing in a mall, slightly smiling

Adding wholesale as part of an overall strategy can help attract more customers, which is particularly important as consumers are becoming less brand loyal and more value-seeking.

No matter the stage of audience and growth your business is looking to have, omnichannel is the most important aspect a business can have to

A recent McKinsey’s Consumer Pulse survey underscores that sentiment, reporting that “more US consumers reported switching to different brands and retailers in 2022 than at any time since the beginning of the pandemic—and most of them say they intend to incorporate that behavior into their routines.”

Adding wholesale into the DTC mix can benefit all those in the ecosystem.
While the DTC model has provided high margins and customer insights, growing brands are able to parlay a wholesale relationship into a larger customer base while containing marketing costs.

Tempered supply chain issues and strategies

Female Owner Of Fashion Store Using Digital Tablet To Check Stock In Clothing Store

As 2023 kicks off, there are still vestiges of supply chain shortages that continue to challenge retailers. Big box stores are still dealing with consequences of 2020 bottlenecks and supply chain issues.

Recent business surveys found that a majority of logistics managers don’t expect the supply chain to fully resolve until next year.

Additionally, a healthy unemployment number nationwide coupled with labor shortages and a looming recession has added to an overall disruption for general retail operations.

The bleak forecast has resulted in softer expectations in demand during the first half of 2023, with a possible uptick in the second half, making margins a key focus.

However, because that economic softness is expected to stick around, supply chains may appear to be working better because there’s simply less economic activity. 

The good news, according to analysts, is that the number of job openings, which reached its highest level in 21 years in 2022, is on its way down.

The Great Resignation has lost steam and the average quit rate is slowing.

Furthermore, the unemployment rate, at 3.4% in January, has been relatively stable since early 2022.

Having a good, reliable roster of associates is critical to moving goods.

Here are some tips to help get you through the next six months.

Retail recruitment strategies

Female Inventory Manager Shows Digital Tablet Information to a Worker Holding Cardboard Box, They Talk and Do Work. In the Background Stock of Parcels with Products Ready for Shipment.

The labor shortage is a significant challenge for retailers and will continue to be, well past COVID.

Competition is tough, so retailers are encouraged to look beyond financial rewards and invest in building a brand that focuses on culture, values and career growth.

Technology, too, plays a larger role inside the store. Omnichannel retailers encourage shoppers to order use multiple channels for a single order.

Associates receive, track and present customer orders – as well as deal with the inevitable returns.

Tools such as RIOT RFID can make these processes much smoother, faster and more accurate by taking care of the entire time intensive process of tracking products and updating counts upon return or order placement.  

This is a much broader scope of responsibilities, which requires a more advanced set of skills from the managers and staff.

A more transparent and connected system for retail management and point of sale leads to happier and more efficient staff. Retail Pro Prism provides total visibility across channels, saving your business and associates time so they can be more thoughtful, present resources for customers.

Streamline offerings

Supply chain troubles seem amplified when a retailer’s shelves are empty because several products are unavailable simultaneously.

Streamlining the types of products you offer and partnering with a number of suppliers to provide those specific types of items helps focus investment on high-impact areas.

You’ll be delivering a more consistent customer experience as well.

In addition, consider alternatives to what you currently offer without cutting back on quality of service. For example, florists may not be able to reliably source plastic vases for every order, so they might offer creative bouquet wrapping instead.

Map your supply chain

Ensure you have supply chain visibility. Surviving a supply chain shortage requires a steady flow of parts and materials.

Supplier mapping includes locations, details of what supplier provides and how critical each product is.

Understanding their inventory levels as well as your own is also crucial. Consider tracking your vendor’s supply chain as well.

Having the visibility of connected retail management across channels helps you in accounting for every order in process, giving you peace of mind.

Finally, as suppliers continue to feel the squeeze, be quality conscious.

It’s tempting for manufacturers to cut corners to meet demands quickly.

For designer brands, counterfeit goods can be a big problem when supplies are scarce.

Support your suppliers by investing in them, insisting they only accept first-rate work and authentic products, and offering credit terms if appropriate.

After all, if your biggest, most critical suppliers go out of business, you will too.

Brands Explore Creative Ways To Boost Customer Loyalty

From using artificial intelligence to analyze shoppers’ actions to promoting their own core values, retailers are looking to deeply engage with their customers to increase repeat business.

Customer loyalty is the Holy Grail for retailers. Businesses put hours of effort into understanding just what combination of factors entice a shopper to return – as well as what makes them choose one retailer over another time after time.

The elusive answer may be to create a brand that displays insightful knowledge of the customer, without being overbearing, and connect with them on a personal level.

Retail Pro Prism provides an integrated view of data across all channels and retailers can create customer profiles to record important, helpful data to improve their relationship with customers.

To Know Them is to Love Them

Who doesn’t prefer to shop where the associates are thoughtful, attentive and – if you’re lucky – just a bit intuitive?

It’s for those reasons that retailers such as Nordstroms and hoteliers like Ritz Carlton stand apart from their peers. And it’s why they have tremendous loyalty among their customers.

Artificial intelligence (AI) can help retailers gain insights into their customers, offering data that helps provide personalized experiences with targeted product recommendations.

Brands can tailor shopping experiences to fit customers’ interests, based on real-time web browsing habits and shopping data.

Knowing what’s of interest to a particular customer allows the retailer to curate selections.

Further, to keep an experience fresh yet relevant, AI can use browsing data to automatically present shoppers with new product selections whenever they visit an online store.

That creates customer excitement over new merchandise, prevents boredom and helps encourage spontaneous buying behavior, especially on mobile devices.

Personalized shopping experiences are central to customer engagement, retention and loyalty in today’s retail environment.

Personalization is also linked to higher conversion rates and product sales. According to McKinsey, personalization can deliver 5 to 8x times the ROI on marketing spend and improve revenue by 10% or more.

AI creates seamless experiences that leave shoppers satisfied and inclined to return.

Personalized ecommerce uses company data to recommend, cross-sell and upsell relevant items to shoppers.

By synthesizing shoppers’ onsite actions, AI can deliver recommendations tailored to individual customer’s tastes.

It’s a strategy aimed at providing better customer experience and higher conversion rates.

AppCard with Retail Pro allows retailers to leverage every bit of data collected from their POS system and using AI to create personalized marketing strategies to increase customer loyalty and in turn, retention.

The Value Proposition

Knowing and catering to the values of your customers can also help foster repeat business.

Values-based purchasing takes into account more than just price, quality and convenience.

These customers look at factors such as sustainability and resale practices as well as cruelty-free manufacturing, local sourcing and fair labor practices.

Sustainability casts a wide net. It can include retailers that sell pre-owned clothing or furniture, for example.

Some brands, such as Patagonia and Coach, incorporate both new and preowned products.

Such retailers have loyal followings that particularly enjoy “vintage” finds of their favorite brands.

Conversely, “pre-loved” merchandise is often available at lower price points, which provides a convenient entry point for a new set of customers.

Sustainability can also include retailers that support certain delivery practices – bundling orders for similar areas, providing eco-friendly shipping materials and cutting back on their carbon footprint throughout their supply chains and operations.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of looking at points of friction to find alternate options for those points of operations.

With Retail Pro Prism, retailers have an integrated view of the data from every corner of operations so they can analyze the whole picture and look for ways to eliminate unnecessary steps or trips.

“Value-driven retail” is more than a buzzword. In a crowded market, it differentiates a brand, and encourages loyalty.

There are factors in addition to fair pricing and convenience that encourage customers to return. A strong set of brand values fosters emotional investment and positions a brand as the best solution for customers’ needs.

And AI-powered technology can help brands create the customer experience that drives success.

Retail – What’s causing tension in your customer experience?

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Rebuilding customer relationships

Visit Retail Pro at NRF 2023 booth 6203

The retail landscape is challenging, regardless of business success and size. Visit Retail Pro at NRF 2023 to see how you can get total visibility into the operational issues that keep you from rebuilding strong customer relationships.

Rebuild customer relationships

Professional Shopping Assistant Using Digital Tablet Helping Female Client Buy Clothes And Improve Personal Style In Store. Free Space

Improve your relationships with customers with smoother operations and personalized service tailored to their individual needs and shopping habits.

  • Serve customers more effectively with operational efficiency and flexibility to use your whole business to its full extent – merging inventory visibility across store, branches and channels
  • Gain visibility, and in turn insight to their desires: track responses to promotions, price points that capitalize on value, and pinpoint trends across the business
  • Improve the personal connection by staying in touch using your choice of marketing tools that best help your business, and reducing the strain that comes with human error

Streamline for operational efficiency and better experiences

When you connect all your retail technologies to the Retail Pro Prism platform, you get more accurate insight into operations to help you streamline across stores and regions and better serve your customers.

  • Reduce friction in purchase experiences with the ability to see current or potential bottlenecks
  • Identify areas where automated functions can increase efficiency and reduce human error
  • Strategize and uncover alternative options or ways to re-direct a process
  • Determine customer-facing associate strengths and weaknesses
  • Gain clarity on areas for improvement and staff’s best place in your company
  • Set parameters for inventory functions on a store-by-store basis
  • Automate replenishment and distribute inventory to needed locations with allocation tools

Integration between Retail Pro Prism and our ecommerce platform enables us to ensure inventory updates and smooth order flow across the organization. With Retail Pro, it is easy to keep track of inventory and display online whether an item is out of stock or ready to be picked up, resulting in less frazzled associates and happier customers.

Pawan Dangol, Area Manager

Grow your presence internationally with ease

Retailers learned a lot during COVID about what works for your customers. Apply these insights to grow your presence across borders and make it easier for customers to shop with you wherever they are.

  • Leverage Retail Pro resources like region-specific fiscalizations and localizations and local technological professionals with regional expertise
  • Gain total performance visibility across stores, channels and subsidiaries
  • Spot trends from a wider perspective with the whole data picture in one unified view

As you grow, you need clear visibility on all parts of the business and we want to ensure we’re not letting down one side of the business at the expense of the other – to be successful we have to develop the online and offline experience simultaneously, which we’re trying to do. We are hopeful and confident that Retail Pro will be able to support us on this journey.

Miniso UK

Visit us at NRF 2023

Heading out to NRF this January? Visit the Retail Pro team at booth 6203 to start the conversation on how you can start using the Retail Pro Prism POS and retail management platform this year to gain the insight and efficiency you need for rebuild customer relationships.

4 Important Ways the Retailer-Vendor Relationship has Changed

Asian woman shop owner - young Asian woman store owner carrying shoe boxes at store

The last two years have seen dramatic changes in the retailer-vendor relationship. Supply chain shortages caused by the pandemic are still reverberating throughout retail operations.

While the online channel unsurprisingly grew in response to imposed lockdowns, the less-popular hybrid shopping model known as “click and collect,” also gained tremendous momentum.

Retail Pro’s customer ACFC was able to make BOPIS a reality early on in the pandemic thanks to Prism’s data integration and total inventory visibility.

And, although shopping has returned to pre-COVID routines, supply chain issues remain. Here are some ways retailers are handling post-pandemic challenges.

The Product Journey to the Customer

delivery man holding box up as person receiving it signs an ipad

Dropship is more popular. Published statistics show that the global dropshipping market is forecast to reach $196.78 billion in 2022, a substantial increase of  23.7 percent from 2021.

That number is expected to continue to rise, reaching $243.42 billion next year.

The uptick in retailers needing to fulfill online orders during the past two years is a big reason for the dropship surge.

Retail Pro’s ability to streamline inventory visibility across all channels and give retailers a single view makes it easier for them to reduce the margin of error in fulfilling online orders.

Retailers Expanding Retailer-Vendor Relationship

Female Inventory Manager shows digital tablet Information to a male worker holding cardboard box, explaining how their retailer-vendor relationships work

Retailers have expanded their footprint to include marketplaces such as Amazon and Alibaba, as well as social platforms including Tik Tok and Instagram.

Miniso’s UK branch was able to experiment easily with selling on Amazon in the face of tough challenges brought on by COVID with Retail Pro Prism, opening their understanding of future operations possibilities

In fact, TikTok has been experimenting with shoppable ads and shoppable livestreams indicate its readiness to compete for retailers’ attention with Instagram and Facebook.

That has boosted brand awareness not only for the retailer, but also for the supplier. As product demand increases, however, shortages sometimes occur.

Expanding selection through third-party relationships. Some large retailers, notably Lands End, Hudson’s Bay and Anthropologie have begun their own marketplaces.  

Those retailers feature channels on their websites that allow select third-party brands to sell products directly to their customers. It increases selection while letting the retailer avoid increasing the number of vendor relationships they must manage.

Automation of Operations

A female Asian retailer looking over her store's automated inventory across channels

Increasing workflow automation. Reducing or eliminating the manual creation of reports regarding orders, stock levels, and sales trends, and automating that process can accelerate the receipt of information regarding potential stock shortages.

That is particularly helpful when earmarking stock for in-store purchases; for ecommerce order fulfillment and for pickup by click and collect customers.

Automation reduces errors and makes data collection more efficient. Retailer Saleem Fabrics was able to automate their inventory to lessen challenges brought on during COVID with the help of their Retail Pro Business Partners at System Plus and Retail Pro’s software plugin capabilities.

The best supplier-buyer relationships require collaboration. Retailers and their suppliers must be committed to the long-term pursuit of value.

Working with Retail Pro and our partners means a retailer has engaged support and help to take any steps necessary for the sorts of modernizing changes in operations mentioned above.

Together, retailers and their partners are employing innovative solutions to offer joint opportunities to create and retain significant value.

Retailers turn to expanding physical footprint post-COVID with regional support from Retail Pro Business Partners

Retail Executive group talking strategy to expand as covid risk and restrictions decrease

After two years of isolation, customers are ready to visit retailers, and stores are more than ready to greet them as they look to expand operations.

Anticipating pent-up demand, retailers are looking at not just beefing up their square footage but also global expansion to meet customers’ demands for exceptional selection and outstanding experience.

The recent past has been tough on retailers: COVID magnified existing weaknesses, accelerated emerging trends of increased online shopping, and forced organizations to adopt new technology faster than they had anticipated.

Approximately 40 million workers were furloughed or laid off as demand dipped and factories and offices were closed to prevent the spread of the virus, according to Deloitte

Additionally, people stopped traveling and leaving their homes to shop: Business Insider reported an 82.6% year-over-year foot traffic plunge for the week ending April 18, 2020. E-commerce took hold as brick and mortars complied with government mandates to close.

Retailers that had entertained physical expansion plans in 2020 quickly course corrected and invested in online sales platforms to try to make up lost revenue. That strategy – which included click and collect and curbside pickup — helped many physical locations remain in business.

As the pandemic waned and retailers reopened, they started streamlining operations to ensure that their physical stores were in sync with their online systems, which had become more robust during the last 24 months.  

Retail Pro Prism’s omnichannel retail management platform gives retailers the tools to monitor their inventory across channels, keeping in-store and online records in sync. The operations were often merged into a hybrid store/warehouse, in which online orders could be fulfilled by the stores’ brick and mortar locations.

Strategies to expand revisited

A group of retail management/operations professionals brainstorm and strategize new ways to expand after covid

With those new logistics in place, retailers are once again considering and moving ahead with physical expansion. But, for the largest, most well-known names, creating more big stores isn’t in the game plan.

Instead, smaller, more boutique-type stores that focus on the customer experience is the winning strategy.

Take Nordstrom’s, which even prior to the pandemic offered curbside pickup and has continued to strengthen its integration between online and offline channels.

Nearly five years ago, Nordstrom Local launched. The stores are roughly 3,000 square feet and do not carry dedicated inventory, but instead are focused on service: Amenities include complimentary personal stylists, eCommerce order pickup, returns, alterations, gift wrapping and complimentary refreshments.

Betting that less space could pay off more was a good gamble: On average, a Nordstrom Local customer spends 2.5 times the amount of a regular Nordstrom customer. 

The retailer sees the locals as a way to complement their existing larger stores, and cater to customers more conveniently.

Post COVID, many shoppers are looking for convenience, particularly when at brick and mortars.

The fundamental reasons for shopping in person haven’t changed: They enjoy social interaction and they want to interact with products before purchasing.

However, shoppers may now be a bit more exacting in what they expect from retailers’ service.

Businesses looking to expand their physical footprint must be certain that their existing software can handle the new load.

POS software, in particular, must be scalable in order for the business to remain efficient.

Retail Pro Prism is a scalable, comprehensive software package that can be cloud-based and offers remote support — ideal for an expanding company.

For example, Miniso UK currently has seven stores and has plans to grow its business with Retail Pro Prism to 50 stores in five years.  “As you grow, you need clear visibility on all parts of the business and we want to ensure we’re not letting down one side of the business at the expense of the other,” said Miniso UK’s Chief Operating Officer, Saad Usman. “To be successful, we have to develop the online and offline experience simultaneously, which we’re trying to do.”

Growth Requires Local Support

Woman wearing headset, supporting retailer in their region on their mission to expand

Once software requirements have been established, retailers should consider their support options. Having local IT partners can help ease concerns and create an atmosphere of camaraderie.

Retail Pro has a Global network of local IT support partners in 130 countries, helping their clients with implementations, integration of retail solutions including loyalty, ERP, ecommerce etc.

Local partners also know the region better than anyone, so they can assist with localization of the software for language and branding, and are familiar with legal requirements, such as fiscalization (fiscal law aimed at preventing retailer fraud) as well as tax reporting.

Retail Pro is compliant with regional fiscal and tax requirements such as VAT used in many regions globally, India’s GST, Canada’s GST/HST and Brazil’s ICMS, and various tax zones.

In addition, any software that a growing retailer selects should be “expansion-friendly.”

Retail Pro’s robust API provides centralized flexibility that adapts to local regulation variations, allowing retailers to customize their retail POS systems to specific regional requirements.

For more than 30 years, Retail Pro has provided a base platform and API that supports regional requirements, which are specific to a retail management system and point of sale.

From the UX –where local language support is key– to the more complex needs of taxation and reporting requirements, localization has and continues to be part of Retail Pro’s DNA.

Globally, language can also be a business barrier. Because all languages have a vernacular, idioms and regional “quirks,” Retail Pro has a fully translatable user interface, so translations can be tailored toward local dialects for a given region, specific business or vertical type.

Finally, partnering with the right IT solution provider is critical for retailers’ success domestically and abroad – and the right fit can help both companies grow, especially if they operate with similar values. 

Authorized partners are not only trusted technology advisors, but they are also serving as IT project managers for store launches in different regions of the same country as well as coordinating store launches in new countries.

Establishing mutually-beneficial goals motivates all parties. Post-COVID, analysts expect the global retail market to reach $39,933.3 billion in 2030, up from nearly $20,331.1 billion in 2020. Retail implementation of regionally-savvy software and partnerships with local solution providers will be crucial for success.