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How to Rethink Your Space for a Retailer

By: Brittany Engelmann-- 2017-06-08 5:06 am --

If your business is succeeding, there’s a good bet your business is constantly changing.

Retail spaces need constant tending and evolution to make good on their value. New products need to rotate into your shelf space, new displays can be arranged to draw curious window shoppers, and social media trends can be used to drive brand awareness.

If you already know all of this, then rest easy, because you’re probably prepared for the future of retail.

There’s nothing certain about what’s going to happen five, 10 or 15 years from now, so the most important tools a retailer can have in their toolbox are the abilities to react nimbly to change and to navigate uncertainty.

In a recent interview with Forbes, Steve Sadove, a retail thought leader, explained, "Retail is healthy, but it’s difficult, and there are winners and losers. Some retailers think they’re changing, but they’re really not changing. [Other] retailers are changing, but they’re not changing nearly as fast as the consumer. That’s the fundamental dilemma. There’s a lot that’s unhealthy in retail; retail is an unstable game, but it can be a great game if it works."

Some of the areas where retailers need to be thinking big include:

  1. Measuring Foot Traffic
    It’s long been an important metric for retailers to understand the relationship between their square footage and their in-store sales. Knowing exactly what your P&L per square foot is helps you adjust on the fly, but there may be other ways to think about the relationship of your store space to your sales and revenue. For instance, are you renting? If so, you may want to adjust your formula to reflect your operating hours. There likely aren’t shoppers in your store overnight. Do you own? How can you maximize your space? Think about uses for off hours.

  2. Training the Staff
    The internet is a big disrupter, and customers will have more and more choices about where they get their sundry items, such as deodorant. There's never been a more important time focus on customer service, says Walmart CEO, Doug McMillon. It could be the difference for a customer who could just as easily have that staple item delivered by a drone.

  3. Learn Technology Fast
    The next disruptors for retailers will be AI and Machine Learning. Computer-assisted shopping, like Trunk Club and Stitch Fix, are the future of fashion, according to Westfield Malls. It’s not enough to lament their rise. Retailers that are going to thrive in the next few years will be the ones who learn to master these new retail models and combine them with existing business practices.

These are just three general ideas for areas of focus, but it’s worth repeating that the most important things retailers and business owners can do to prepare for the future are to embrace learning for a lifetime and to remain educated and nimble, as the retail landscape changes quickly.