As we push into 2023, retailers are entering a critical moment in time. The post-pandemic world and the return to physical shopping we experienced over the last 18 months has created more complexity as the worlds of digital and physical commerce have collided. And it is no secret, labor and hiring scarcity continues to present a concerning challenge for many businesses, in combination with elevated inflation, rising interest rates and a potential recession looming. While these are largely uncontrollable factors for business owners, one thing is clear: retailers will be forced to do more with less in the coming year.
So what are the necessary focal points for retail business owners moving forward? How can they best navigate a path to success without sacrificing the best parts of their business? Here are two key strategies for retail merchants to consider in 2023:
Find efficiency through automation
The demands of operating a retail business are continuously increasing, and with the current challenges associated with consistent staffing, more of the operational burden falls on the — often small — management and ownership team. Automating and streamlining as many aspects of the business’ day-to-day functions has become essential.
This is where technology can be the differentiator. Every day, time-consuming tasks like product ordering, manually entering inventory into their POS, inventory counts, staff scheduling, sales reports, and basic accounting pull retailers away from spending time with their customers. Legacy platforms (or even less-sophisticated systems like pen and paper), which are still relied upon by SMBs around the world, hinder the opportunities for success for business owners by limiting their ability to make data-driven decisions. It is important for retailers to leverage the full capabilities of modern retail technologies to help propel their business forward and reduce the burden on their employees.
Setting up a brick-and-mortar storefront and an eCommerce site — those are the easy first pieces of the omnichannel experience. More difficult is making those two operations function as a single entity with synchronized inventory.
Optimize inventory for omnichannel selling
Omnichannel selling is no longer a nice-to-have feature — it’s an expectation. Consumers not only want to have an excellent, in-person experience, they also want to be able to shop a store’s full inventory from the comfort of their home and have purchases delivered to their door. The most successful businesses throughout this upcoming period of uncertainty will likely be those that attempt to reach their customers in as many places as possible.
Setting up a brick-and-mortar storefront and an eCommerce site — those are the easy first pieces of the omnichannel experience. More difficult is making those two operations function as a single entity with synchronized inventory. Accurate, real-time tracking of the inventory that moves in and out of a business is essential for merchants, as it allows them to meet customer demand and accurately sell and replenish their stock both online and in-store. This is especially important because inventory is often a significant cost for merchants, but it is also their primary source of revenue. And just like with automating day-to-day tasks, today’s commerce technology can help merchants transition their business into a seamless, omnichannel operation.
It is impossible to accurately predict what the coming year will bring for the retail industry, but with today’s challenges around staffing and consumer sentiment seemingly primed to continue, retailers should focus on what they can control by implementing strategies that will increase their chances of success now and into the future. By leveraging technology to increase automation and drive omnichannel selling, merchants will streamline their operations, ultimately providing a better, more-consistent experience for their customers while giving them the best chance of successfully navigating the changing retail landscape in the coming year.