According to a recent article in The Atlantic, America’s retail industry is going through a massive transformation, which the author calls the "Retail Meltdown" of 2017 — lots of retail companies are closing stores or even going bankrupt.
There are many reasons for this downturn in the retail industry that are indicative of broader trends in the way people shop and make purchase decisions. No matter what industry your business is in, there are a few key lessons you can learn from the changing fortunes of American retail.
American retail is being reshaped by mobile shopping, an excess of retail space and changing consumer preferences for experiences over material goods. Even if you’re not in the “retail” business, you can still adapt your marketing strategies to stay ahead of these crucial trends.
Here are a few marketing insights from the Great Retail Meltdown that your sales organization needs to be aware of:
1. Mobile Commerce Is More Important Than Ever
According to data cited in the Atlantic article, mobile shopping has now reached 20 percent of all digital spending, up from 2 percent in 2010, and Amazon’s North America sales have grown from $16 billion in 2010 to $80 billion in 2016.
It’s no secret that people have been using mobile devices to research products and do price comparisons online — sometimes while standing in a brick-and-mortar retail store — but mobile shopping is becoming faster, easier and more prevalent than ever before. More people are using mobile devices as their primary way of going online, and mobile shopping is becoming more important even for higher-dollar, more complex B2B sales.
If you're not reaching your customers via mobile marketing and making it easy for them to buy from their mobile devices, you're missing out. And don’t assume that your business is immune to this just because you don’t sell products to consumers — your B2B buyers are “people” and “consumers,” too, and they are starting to use their mobile devices more often to conduct research, respond to emails and review marketing literature, even for complex deals. So make sure your marketing processes are keeping up, or you might get left behind with the latest struggling retailers.
2. Why Do We Still Need "Stores?"
Another factor in the Great Retail Meltdown is that America has built way too much shopping mall space, with too many brick-and-mortar stores competing for too little foot traffic — mall visits declined by 50% from 2010 to 2013 and have been decreasing ever since.
The rise of online shopping raises a provocative question: Why do we still need stores? Or rather, in the 21st century, what should a “store” be?
The in-person shopping experience needs to be re-evaluated from top to bottom. What are you offering to your customers at your in-store locations that cannot be replicated online? It doesn't mean that all stores are obsolete, but we need to re-imagine "in-store selling" for the new realities of how people shop. Lots of companies still are not doing a good enough job of this.
Gregg Schwartz is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Strategic Sales & Marketing, an industry-founding lead generation firm based in Connecticut. His company helps technology companies and various startups and small-to-mid-size businesses in the B2B sales category generate sales leads and improve their sales processes.