8 Common Retail Marketing Mistakes to Avoid in 2020
written by Giles Corbett
Blog4th February 2020
New year, new store?
It’s that time of year when we all feel motivated to do better, to try new things and leave behind bad habits.
And that’s the perfect excuse to look at a few bad practices that retailers might want to jettison in 2020.
Price fights are impossible to win.
The best outcome is that you succeed in the race to the bottom. Your competitors can’t beat your low prices. Customers who are motivated only by price flock to you. You can’t offer a great experience, and your profit margin is hardly enough to keep you afloat, but your stores seem busy for a time, so you have the illusion of victory.
The reality is that price-focused customers are not loyal to you. They are loyal to value. Even if you can maintain your threadbare margins for months or years, it is only a matter of time before a cheaper solution emerges, and at that point your customers will desert you.
Competing on quality means being known and valued for more than being cheap. Instead of just being the cheapest, you are desired because of your superior product knowledge, staff support, atmosphere, delivery service – or any one of a thousand other features, benefits or qualities.
And while you may face competitors who try to emulate your popular qualities, only you can do you like you do you.
The future of your stores might mean using more technology to create new experiences, but your employees are still essential to your success. Even with the support of technology to help customers browse and buy goods in-store, people still value having a human to guide them to the perfect purchase. Customers want to be able to ask questions, get a second opinion, or get help using your new endless aisle solution.
The biggest advantage that traditional retailers have is their ability to merge exceptional customer service with the technological advances that were once the preserve of ecommerce players.
In the race to adopt new digital solutions, it can be easy to overlook the central role that your customer service assistants and store managers will play in this new phase of your operations. Let your colleagues know how crucial they are and ensure they are involved in the planning, implementation and monitoring of any new programmes or solutions.
Cost-cutting can be an important part of running a successful business. Over time, businesses can accumulate costs that don’t deliver significant value. Assessing these expenses, and potentially culling some of these unnecessary costs, is a useful business process. However, if too much focus is put on cutting costs, and too little energy goes into adding value, then customers may gradually perceive a shrinking in the value you offer to them.
Thriving businesses usually need to build on the value they offer customers, rather than simply remaining static.
Competitor research and analysis is standard practice for most businesses – whether an informal appraisal of competing products and services, or an exhaustive survey of the marketplace; it’s important to know what your competitors are doing.
However, it’s easy to be mislead by focusing too closely to competitors and not listening to our customers. For example, if two competitors launch new soap brands, we might assume that our customers want soap from us. But our competitor’s activities are aimed primarily at their own customers, not ours.
It’s also dangerous to ascribe too much intelligence to our competitors. Their latest move might be a colossal mistake. It might be a pet project of the CEO. Or a misguided idea from a soon-to-be-sacked product manager.
Retail is a fast-moving industry. Keeping up can be hard – especially when our core systems were built in another decade to serve a different era.
The systems we rely on to run our business can feel like our backbone; not something you want to break. But this inertia can cause us to persist with systems that aren’t capable of pushing us forward or supporting the new features that our customers expect.
2020 might be the year to shift your business to a future-ready platform.
The death of the high street has been greatly exaggerated. Physical retailers have a precious resource that ecommerce companies covet: the ability to have personal, tangible experiences with their customers.
You may have this advantage over your ecommerce competitors, but they are still coming for your customers.
There is no guarantee that your business formula will last another five years. In the UK alone, scores of long-established high-street names have failed to adapt to the digital economy, and they no longer exist.
Your retail future might require some adaptation if you are to succeed. Is your corporate culture receptive to change?
Racing to catch-up with competitors, or reacting to changing trends in the market, can cause retailers to lurch from one short-term strategy to another. Rather than building a coherent business with a clear blueprint for the future, customers see a confusing jumble of messages and never really understand your purpose.
Another effect of short-term and reactionary business management is that you can end up with a broad portfolio of services and products that make little sense from a brand perspective, and are also difficult to service and maintain. Your staff are stressed and overworked, and your customers no longer have a clear understanding of your position in the market.
It is far more effective to concentrate your energies on a selection of services and products that tell customers a coherent story.
Does your business have any resolutions for 2020?
Are there any opportunities you want to capitalise on? Or threats you must mitigate?
At Ksubaka, we help retailers use digital technology to get one more customer, one more sale, and one more item in the basket.
Want to know how we can support your business? Please get in touch for a no-obligation discussion.