Canadian retailers must implement innovative business strategies now to survive and thrive, says a new report from BDO Canada.
As the “Amazon effect” becomes stronger in Canada, with nationwide store closures and the collapse of iconic brands like Sears and Zellers, small and midsized retailers need to adopt strategies, including leveraging technologies such as artificial intelligence, beacon technology, mobile pay, virtual/augmented reality and other forms of automation.
The report identifies five critical trends and focus areas that retailers need to stay abreast of:
· Technology – automation and artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, beacon technology, mobile pay and data analytics are changing the game in the retail sector;
· Experiential retail – retailers need to let customers interact with a product and build communities that will engage current and potential customers;
· E-commerce vs. bricks and mortar – stores are creating hybrid and omnichannel shopping experiences to reach their customers wherever they are;
· Consumer shopping habits – Millennials, the biggest spending cohort for retailers, are influencing the shopping habits of other age demographics; and
· Customer relationships – retailers need to develop a customer relationship management program that captures and integrates implicit and explicit customer data.
The report recommends that small and midsized retailers focus on a true customer-first retail design, develop an omnichannel strategy to reach their customers, implement or upgrade e-commerce, and rethink every step and stage of the value chain.
“It is now business critical for Canadian retailers to rethink and redesign their strategy,” says Eric Matusiak, partner and national retail leader at BDO Canada. “Several of these trends in the industry have had enough traction to be proven, but there’s still time for retailers to adapt to them. A methodical approach is recommended: develop a holistic strategy rather than jumping on the bandwagon.”