Future of Retail: What’s in Store for 2019? Hardlines has Some Thoughts

Marketsupport Canada recently contributed to a feature in Hardlines, “Leaders Weigh In on Trends, Transitions Impacting Industry for 2019,” where several retail industry leaders speculated on the future of retail in the year to come.

Marketsupport Canada President Sara Clarkson shared these thoughts:

“Retail continues to evolve and change with the advancement of e-commerce, in-store pick-up, and information at the fingertips of every consumer. The hot topics and trends at retail revolve around how to “get digital.” But in this new retail world of clicks and shipments, we cannot lose sight of one of the key areas: human interaction and customer service.

“The average consumer knows more information these days than they ever have before and typically do their homework before even setting foot in the store and/or on the e-commerce site. They can research how-to tips and product reviews and check inventory prior to visiting. With that in mind, retail staff need to be just as educated and understand how store products inter-relate and be readily available to this new consumer.

“We can compare it to the automobile industry. Before the Internet, car sales staff had more knowledge than the average consumer, but today the average consumer walks into the car dealership with specs and pricing already in their head. To adapt, retail sales staff at the very least will need to have the same level of knowledge, and preferably more to increase upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

“When the consumer lands in your store they don’t have the time to search for information, as the information is instant, and that includes live interaction. Ongoing pressure to decrease costs by cutting down the in-store team is not the best answer. To win the game you need to have the information the customer needs, when they need it. It is a balancing act with so many other levels to contend with, especially as the options of how to buy continue to grow. But even as the store concept continues to change, we can’t lose sight of people in the equation as this could be what will set you apart from the competition.”

Especially for the hardware industry, DIY has become the hot new trend. People watch HGTV, browse Pinterest for inspiration, and do their project research before even setting foot in the store. While this can be limiting in some regards, it also presents opportunity.

For instance, your store staff could offer their own DIY expertise — perhaps tips that the consumer hasn’t thought of. Or if the sales staff know of a related product that could help with a project, there is opportunity for upselling and cross-selling.

While not in the hardware industry, Saje Natural Wellness is a great example of this type of hiring model. They hire people who are passionate about their products and/or wellness in general and they take an empathetic approach to selling.

There are also some projects that just shouldn’t be (or can’t be) DIYed due to safety reasons (like cleaning an air conditioner). Having staff who can point out these concerns and perhaps recommend a trusted servicer instead can increase customer loyalty.

To read the full article in the Fourth Quarter 2018 edition of Hardlines Home Improvement Quarterly, visit www.hardlines.ca.

Marketsupport Canada can help you create a great customer experience at your hardware retailer in 2019 and beyond. Get in touch today. Call 1 877 421 5081 or visit www.storesupport.ca.

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