Retailers operating in the digital age face significant challenges. Employee wages and other operational costs are rising, but the competitive landscape and customer expectations are more demanding than ever, all while brand loyalty is eroding. However, armed with the right technology, savvy retailers can overcome these hurdles, entice customers, and build loyal repeat business.
Here are five of the biggest challenges retailers face today, and how Google Workspace can help solve them:
1. Bringing new ideas to market quickly
In the digital age, all businesses move at the speed of technology. Retailers are running a constant race to get new ideas to market before a competitor gets the jump on them, but their efforts are often stymied by a siloed marketing structure comprised of in-house employees located all over the country or the world, who in turn must coordinate with a similarly far-flung network of third-party creative agencies, resellers, and other vendors.
G Suite’s collaboration features break down these silos. Google Drive’s sharing tools and access controls allow concept sketches, prototype models, website wireframes, marketing campaigns, and other digital assets to be shared easily, securely, and with the assurance that everyone is always accessing the most up-to-date content. Teams can manage activities with a shared task list in Google Sheets, a team calendar in Google Calendar, or both. In-house team members and vendors can use Google Hangouts for live video conferencing anytime.
2. Satisfying customer demands for seamless omnichannel shopping experiences
While about 96% of Americans shop online these days, the lion’s share of purchases still occur inside brick-and-mortar stores. Today’s digital consumers shift seamlessly between shopping channels, and they expect retailers to offer them the same shopping experience regardless of whether they’re purchasing on a website, a mobile app, or in person. If a store’s mobile app is promoting a BOGO sale, but in-store signage is displaying regular prices (perhaps because employees have been too busy helping customers to switch out signs), customers will be frustrated, confused — and turned off.
The G Suite Google Drive app helps retailers prevent inconsistent marketing messages by providing a centralized location to store marketing, product, and inventory information, with updates automatically pushed out to the store’s website, mobile app, and in-store digital signage and handheld devices. This ensures that customers receive consistent messaging across all sales channels, sales associates always have the most current information at their fingertips, and the marketing team can spend less time on administrative tasks and more time creating new ways to reach and delight customers.
Chromeboxes, which run on the powerful yet affordable and easy-to-use Chrome OS, ensure that in-store digital signage always displays the most current product and pricing information. They also allow retailers to customize shopping experiences by tailoring signage according to city, store, and even specific departments. While customers visiting New York locations in winter might see cashmere sweaters and wool coats, Miami customers will be invited to browse swimwear and cotton tees.
3. Fostering brand loyalty with a world-class customer experience
Not too long ago, consumers’ shopping choices were relatively limited. Companies told consumers what to buy and dictated the terms under which buyers could transact with them. These days, consumers have a nearly infinite number of shopping choices at their fingertips, and brand loyalty has severely eroded. To stand out in the crowd and keep buyers coming back, retailers must deliver personalized and consistently world-class customer experiences.
By accessing G Suite’s Google Drive from a mobile device, sales associates can easily access the most current product specs, inventory counts, promotions, videos, and FAQs to answer any question a customer may have, right on the spot. Employees can also ask questions and collaborate with supervisors and co-workers across departments and locations in real-time, which means no more telling a customer to wait while an employee “asks [their] manager” or “checks in the back.”
4. Recruiting top talent in a tight labor market
Recruiting is a perennial challenge in the retail industry, and right now, unemployment is hovering near a 50-year low. Retailers are pulling out all the stops to source the extra staff they need for the year-end holiday shopping season.
G Suite enables retailers to streamline the entire recruiting and onboarding process, easing the pressure on their budgets in a tight labor market where wages are rising and employee turnover is high. After candidates apply for open positions using Google Forms, they can be scheduled for virtual interviews using Google Hangouts video conferencing, saving both hiring managers and applicants time and hassle.
Once hired, employees can be brought up to speed quickly with a self-service onboarding and training portal created in Google Sites that allows them to access new hire paperwork, training videos, and other materials anywhere, from any device. Employee schedules and time-off requests can be managed using a combination of Forms, Sheets, and Calendar. Security controls allow management to restrict access to appropriate stores, individuals, or teams.
5. Reducing operational costs
In addition to streamlining hiring and recruiting, G Suite can digitize and automate other back-office administrative functions to save money and free up employees to serve customers and work on other projects that drive business. Retailers can use Google Forms to easily create electronic forms for administrative tasks such as product recalls and supply orders. Employees can access documents and update forms from anywhere and at any time, saving time and minimizing or eliminating the need to print out hard copies.
G Suite allows for store and restaurant operations to be managed from anywhere using a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Product launch videos, marketing campaigns, promotions, store policies and procedures, company announcements, and other digital assets can be stored in Google Drive and shared on a Google Sites website.