Retailing 112: Sudden Impact
Your customers are using instant communication to help them shop on their terms, but you can use technology to your advantage, too.
You’ve probably had this experience, or something like it: A shopper walks into your store and you greet them within minutes and have a brief but pleasant exchange about their tennis needs. Then you leave them to look around while you answer the phone. The shopper stops at your racquet or apparel display, takes out a smartphone or handheld digital device and calls a friend to ask their opinion of the racquet they are looking at, and takes a picture and sends it to their friend to look at so they can continue their discussion.
From April 2010 through January 2012, Apple sold over 50 million iPads, fueling a revolution that some experts predict has ended the PC era and heralded a wave of new technology consisting of portable handheld computing, instant communication and apps that further empower consumers.
Every day your store is open, you experience first-hand the impact of technology on consumers. The key for specialty tennis retailers is how you can take advantage of this technological wave.
There is nothing new about consumers being empowered by the internet and the ability to know everything there is to know about the products you sell before they enter your store. What is new is the ability consumers now have, through the new wave of handheld technology, to go online while they are in your store. Empowered by apps that allow them to scan bar codes, they can comparison shop as they’re standing in your store, looking at your merchandise.
But you can use technology to your store’s advantage. If this type of comparison-shopping is an issue for your store — bundle!
For example, create tennis lifestyle bundles by merchandising racquets with strings, balls and shoes, or include a package of sessions with a teaching pro, all under one store bar code and retail price generated by your point-of-sale system. Consumers can scan your store generated POS bar codes for the bundles you are offering — and not find anything online to compare with.
Power of Planning
As a local small retail business, you can plan how you will use the new wave of technology to your advantage. An example is using QR, or “quick response,” codes. QR codes are affordable and easy to employ in hard-copy promotional pieces, online ads and store communications — and as a part of your store displays and merchandise hang tags. Encourage shoppers to scan your QR codes to learn more about the products they are interested in and the bundles your store offers to meet tennis lifestyle needs.
Use technology to create uncontested market space. There are affordable web and service companies and agencies that can provide your store with proactive digital messages and e-mails to your opt-in list of customers’ handheld devices as they pass by your store, or as they come through the front door, alerting them to your latest tennis lifestyle bundles, special promotions and events.
Your store is important to your local community of tennis players, and using technology to stay in contact and have an ongoing dialog with your customers is essential to your creating uncontested market space for your store in the minds and tennis lifestyles of the consumers in your community.
Make your competition irrelevant. The new wave of handheld technology has, and will continue to have, a huge impact on your consumers, and it is within your financial capability, no matter what your store size, to take advantage of some aspect of this technology to help make your store’s competition irrelevant in your market space!
Digital and email marketing for a handheld world.
Sign up for the TIA Retail Webinar “Making Your Business More Consumer-Friendly,” on Tuesday, July 10. Visit tennisindustry.org/webinars
This is part of a series of retail tips presented by the Tennis Industry Association and written by the Gluskin Townley Group (gluskintownleygroup.com).