Leaping Outside the Box: Maintain relevance by adjusting to an ever-changing market.

Author:Adkins, Chris
 
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Customers today expect more from retailers than ever before. They are savvy, determined shoppers and brands must work harder than ever to attract and retain them. With a multitude of choices available to them and a culture of instant gratification, how can a retailer compete? The answer lies in the ability to change to stay relevant.

ASK FOR FEEDBACK

To start, get to know your customer's expectations. The best way to understand what customers are looking for is to ask them.

Communicate with customers constantly. You can accomplish this several ways, such as social media or by offering incentives for completing surveys online. However, the most tried and true approach is to simply talk with customers in person. Strike up a conversation while they are shopping in your brick and mortar store. Ask them how they found you, what they are looking for and what they hope to get out of their experience.

DO YOUR RESEARCH

In addition to having conversations, do your research. It's critical to stay on top of customer trends to keep your business relevant. The UPS Store continuously conducts research to provide insights into our target customers--what their needs are, where they need help, what they like, etc. We leverage an online community platform, conduct focus groups and execute larger research studies. All the research helps shape our approach as a company--from advertising and brand marketing to product development.

DIVERSIFY YOUR BUSINESS

It's not enough to simply listen though, you must plan to take what you learn and adapt your business to meet--with the goal of exceeding --customer expectations. Small, independent retailers can often struggle to compete with big box stores if they don't differentiate themselves. Foot traffic is the ultimate goal, but it's not enough to simply attract customers--you must provide real value to keep them coming back. Look for opportunities to expand on your current services or develop a niche product that nobody else offers. Use the insights you gain from talking to your customers to hone in on what they want... and then deliver it.

For franchisors, listening to your franchisees can spark new, innovative ideas to diversify. It can help you understand their challenges and identify ways to address them. Making the retail experience as convenient and pleasant as possible is a priority for UPS Store customers. That's where our store-in-store model comes into play nicely--offering a...

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