I often get the opportunity to speak with retailers who worry about dwindling or stagnant business. They tell me their customers are being siphoned off from every direction including from online retailers. My message to them is simple: You need to learn to do business in the 21st Century. You need to embrace technology, improve customer service, and provide an overwhelming shopping experience to avoid losing “grumpy old customers like me.”

Increasing the bottom line is simple logic and mathematics. Retailers can either find ways to increase their margins or boost the number of their customers. Margins can only be raised so much before customers start shopping elsewhere. So, increasing the numbers of strong, loyal customers makes much more sense and it isn’t as hard as it seems.

That means stores need to embrace new ideas and all technology offers. Merchants need to create a strong digital image for their stores including customer loyalty programs, geofencing marketing efforts, automated customer satisfaction surveys, mobile-friendly eCommerce customer portals, digital advertising, and strong, secure in-store Wi-Fi. Stores also need to drive their inventory investments harder than ever to guarantee they always have the right quantity of the right products at the right time. They also need to constantly seek new products to keep us interested in their stores.

Consumers expect more from merchants today. Due in part to the evolution of retail, which now offers more personalized choices from eCommerce companies, shoppers want similar features from their neighborhood stores. While many national and regional brands build and maintain their own customer loyalty programs, third-party offerings, such as RepeatRewards, Rich Rewards and others, are available to independent businesses. These solutions give retailers high-powered programs to effectively compete with the chain stores and big online experiences. They reward faithful customers and give retailers a great way to interact with their loyal shoppers.

Dan Nesmith