The retail industry has been expanding on the global scale with the U.S. still maintaining the undisputed leader in the global arena. At the 2016 inaugural Microsoft Envision conference that was held in New Orleans, lengthy discussions were conducted on the current state of the retail business. The findings were staggering, contrary to the common perception that online retailing had taken over the traditional brick and mortar stores.

Last year alone, retailers spend $62 billion on “shoppers’ experiences” totalling and competed fiercely for consumers’ attention. Retail revenues have been on the rise with 72 percent increase since 2000.

There is Magnificent Growth in Retail Business

What is surprising is the massive number of retail storefronts in totalling over 3.8 million. This represents a rise of 190,000 in just under two years. The majority of these stores are individual shops, meaning they’re small and medium businesses as opposed to large chain operations. However, the small retailers only account for 25 percent of the total retail revenues.

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Additionally, there are 14 billion square feet of retail outlet space across the U.S., which is a 142 percent increase from the year 2000. This illustrates that there’s a lot of shopping happening on brick and mortar outlets in addition to the digital commerce. Particularly, 93 percent of revenues emanating from retail came from physical shops as opposed to online shops. This doesn’t mean online shops are dwindling. They’re still on the rise but digital commerce operators like Amazon, Birchbox, Warby, and Bonobos are slowly moving from clicks to bricks and establishing actual storefront locations.

The massive expansion of retail business means stiffer competition for small business owners. To get ahead of the competition, you need to focus on creating better customer experience to lure shoppers to your stores. One strategy you can employ is working on the path to purchase. Experts advise small business owners not to shy away from showrooming. This is where consumers visit your shop to check out your merchandise before shopping online for better prices. Many business leaders have shared similar sentiments with less focus on duct-tape omnichannel.

Embracing the Millennial

The millennials have disrupted the retail shopping trends, especially the fashion industry. The millennials rarely go without their mobile devices. To tap into this massive market segment, your website must be accessible from mobile devices. Additionally, your store should have internet access through Wi-Fi. However, you should only use the Wi-Fi to connect with the customers as opposed to sharing with the customers your access codes to the network. Install Apple or Google wallets for online payments.

Since millennials are more that baby boomers, it makes more business sense to attract and retain them by utilising news ways of engagement. The current state of retail shows that shoppers are ever in the stores. They are either shopping, working, sitting, playing, or on the go. This indicates that they are seamlessly transitioning in and out of the physical world. Retailers should, therefore, find means of cracking these silos existing between their physical stores and their websites.

Many retailers can attest to the fact that their key focus is on building better CRM systems and customer loyalty programs to maintain the already existing customers to make repeat purchases. Other priorities include establishing mobile friendly platforms and creating better business information analytics.

The store owners should give their staff the necessary tools for empowering and engaging their customers to have a seamless view of their clients’ needs. Being mobile friendly is already a necessity for any business looking to stay clear of the competition. So, the bottom-line is to provide your consumers with a clear reason to keep coming to your store or online shop.