2017 is expected to be yet another year of retail disruption for both brands and (especially) the local retailers who sell their products. Out of these shifting tides, though, there are opportunities for retailers to evolve with trends and brands to provide support where needed.
We recently sent out a survey to over 50+ local retailers using Promoboxx, asking them, “What are some of your predictions for your store and other small businesses in 2017?”
Out of the many responses we received, three recurring pain points stood out:
- The evolving big-box landscape
- Direct competition from the brands whose products they sell in-store
- The continued rise of e-commerce
Let’s break down these three pain points and take a look at the opportunities that can be spun from them.
1. The evolving big-box landscape
The future of big-box retail is uncertain, with many either merging, being bought out, or folding entirely. While the fall of big-box retailers like Sports Authority and Sears could signal good news for smaller specialty retailers, it also leaves many of them questioning what may happen next.
“2017 is still a slight unknown from a retail standpoint due to the evolving big-box store landscape. This could really present the small retailers with a great opportunity in 2017, but it could go the other way as well. We just don’t know.” – Buchika’s Ski and Bike
Opportunity for retailers: Take advantage of the consumer shift away from big-box stores and showcase just what exactly makes you unique: your expert product knowledge and superior service.
Opportunity for brands: Moving into the new year, help to relieve some of that retailer unease by beginning to place greater regulations on big-box retailers. How? Review their low margins (which takes the profit out of merchandise for everyone) and massive product markdowns.
2. Direct competition from the brands whose products they sell in-store
Direct-to-consumer is a pain point that we’ve been hearing about more and more as of late. In a recent interview with Ken Combs Running Store, owner Larry Holt told us, “It’s direct-to-consumer that I’m trying to fight, more than anything. Big-box doesn’t bother me. We can compete against them. But it’s very tough to directly compete against these manufacturers.”
In trying to unload excess merchandise (typically caused by the closing of big-box retail stores) and bypassing the local retailer, brands are hurting small business while also removing the premium local exposure and shopping experience from the equation.
Opportunity for retailers: In your digital marketing, move beyond the simple selling of products and emphasize what you offer beyond that. Call out the in-store experience, highlight your product knowledge, and market your involvement in your local community. These all mean something to people and will re-emphasize what you provide beyond the product.
Opportunity for brands: If you want to connect with local consumers in meaningful ways, rethink your channel priorities and the way you want your brand to be perceived and experienced on a local scale.
In this article from SGB Media, learn how some outdoor brands like Ibex are beginning to share direct-to-consumer profits with their specialty retailers.
3. The continued rise of e-commerce
It has become challenging for small businesses to compete with the ease of e-commerce. Some brands like Birkenstock may be beginning to pull their products out of large e-commerce sites like Amazon, but the rise of e-commerce among consumers is still undeniable.
“The convenience of online shopping continues to present us with challenges. We believe we provide a valuable service/experience–and our customer reviews indicate that those who make it into the store agree–but it’s hard to beat the satisfaction people get from clicking a button and getting to open a package a day or two later.” – Fleet Feet Sports Raleigh
Opportunity for retailers: Online shopping is now a huge market, and in order to stay in business in the coming years, you will have to begin offering e-commerce options on your store’s website.
This doesn’t mean that you should avoid offering unique and valuable in-store experiences and services. It means that you will have to find the right balance between what you offer digitally and what you offer in-store.
Opportunity for brands: Be wary of third party e-commerce sites like Amazon, home to adverse trends like counterfeit product selling and offerings outside of manufacturer pricing policies. These only tarnish your brand image.
Also, help your retailers to build out e-commerce sites and capitalize on the opportunity.