Ryan Blumenthal is a third-generation retailer. He reads the tea leaves of the retail economy, retail trends, and ever-changing consumer behavior. In this feature, Ryan opines on a variety of topics including the upcoming holiday season, how retailers can adapt, and the impact of inflation on consumer behavior. Enjoy.
Q: What can retailers expect for the Holidays this year, and beyond?
A: I think it’s going to be harder. But nothing great retailers can’t work past. We’re seeing perhaps the end of the best two years retailers have seen in a very long time.Now there’s lots of reasons for that, travel was limited so there was more disposable income. People wanted to get out and shop after the lockdowns and limitations, so there was a lot of pent-up consumerism, and it seemed like everybody did well.
What we are going to see in the coming months is that the great retailers will do better; whereas those retailers who aren’t innovating, aren’t trying new things, aren’t engaging with their customers; they are definitely going to see a dip in sales. So the time to change and adapt really is now.
Q: Why don’t retailers adapt sooner?
A: Because the status quo is doing well. There’s no need to make adjustments when the economy is clicking along and everyone is doing well. We get lulled into thinking it’s always going to be that way. But the retailers that not only last, but grow, are the ones that understand how to adapt for the future, not just be reactive when the economy dips. So great retailers see the coming dips and know they have to engage more with their customers, create some new events, personalize their outreach. The bottom line is good retailers embrace change. We’ve heard for over a decade that online is going to be the death of brick and mortar.Well it hasn’t happened, but it has changed the way consumers shop. There’s actually a combination of in-store experience and online convenience. Retail is always changing, and again, the great retailers are masters at keeping the customer at the center of the retail experience.
Q: How important is the personal relationship with customers?
A: We’re social creatures. We want that interaction. But some retail experiences are not social. Going to buy paper towels is not a social experience. It’s not fun to run to the store to buy paper towels, well maybe it is for some people. Most of us just want to click a button to get our paper towels delivered to our house. But buying a beautiful piece of jewelry, or clothing, or furniture, well, we want to see it, we wan t to talk to somebody about it. Somebody who is a trusted expert. That’s fun, that’s social, that’s rewarding. Buying a new suit.Buying a new car. There are these enjoyable retail experiences that are social, and customers do want to interact with people. So stores are going anywhere because people like those experiences.
Q: When money gets tight, more people window shop. How do you convert those customers into future clients?
A: People definitely pull back their spending in a tight economy, Your job as a retailer is to not only take advantage of customer interaction opportunities, but to make sure you create more opportunities, the right kinds of opportunities. So focusing on your best clients is the most important thing you can do. They are less likely to pull away from your store, they are heavy owners and users of your product, and they have really good conversion rates. So they are not going to be the window shoppers. And secondly, collect data on those window shoppers.Get names and contact info so you can reach out to them later so that when they make that more carefully planned purchase, they think of you first.
At Clientbook, our focus is to make sure retailers can engage with more clients, more often, and on a more personal basis than ever before. We make good retailers Great.
Got a question for Ryan? Comment on this post with your thoughts.