Focus on Your Four Walls

four wallsBy Bob Phibbs

Bob’s take on the biggest challenges facing retail in 2018:

“Workforce is affecting everyone. There are more jobs than qualified applicants. That is letting many hire anyone who can essentially fog a mirror and tell the retailer what the retailer wants to hear. No wonder so many shoppers find retail employees on their smartphones. Unless you hire better and train better, you’ll settle for crumbs when you could have the whole feast. “

When asked what brick and mortar retailers should focus on next year, Bob says, “Their own four walls. There are a lot of distractions about what you should be doing — more couponing (don’t), more employees (yes). Stay focused on knowing who your customers are and what they value. It isn’t enough to have a “pretty store” you have to train your employees how to build rapport and become a trusted advisor who can sell the merchandise, not just dust it. That’s why so many retailers around the world are using my SalesRX online retail sales training program to increase conversions and minimize markdowns.”

According to Bob, retailers should also be paying attention to, “Facebook live videos for marketing are huge, the subscription option where customers signup for regular shipments of products and the buy online but pickup in store is becoming more and more standard.”

When asked how the current political climate and administration is impacting retail, Bob says, “While I’m sure I’ll offend someone just speaking about this, the reality is that retail works best with stability. The more news cycles focus on change and fear, the less secure shoppers feel.” 

On technological development in retail, Bob says, “When it comes to marketing, Facebook Live will give smart retailers a way to build a dynamic tribe of followers who care about them, not just the coupon they’re sent. When it comes to websites, predictive analytics and smart content will keep websites relevant and hold interest upon multiple viewings. When it comes to training, the most cutting edge approach will be training employees the soft skills of how to engage another person.”

On consumer confidence, Bob says, “The stock market has had an amazing run up. But like everything, it can’t just go up and when it inevitably goes down, that will ruffle some feathers.”

On consumer behavior, Bob says, “I’m not sure they will change. Are we getting tired of the aloneness of shopping on our phones? Will dynamic retailing experiences at one retailer make others have to follow suit? Will smaller retailers finally “get it” that their store hours are for the shopper — not their own — convenience? Will buy local mean because you get much better service than we live in this zip code too? A lot to look at but in the end, it’s about being more human in a world that is becoming more and more cold and heartless.”