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2019 is a year of retail transformation

By Renée Sunde, President & CEO

Today’s consumers don’t just buy products; they buy experiences. Everything that retailers do to create a better experience contributes to how customers think of them. It’s really those actions that produce customer loyalty over the long run.

The reality is that today customers are only happy when they can get the right products at the right place and time and with as little effort as possible. Yes, “we the consumers” have become very demanding.

For retailers, finding the balance between customer service and the costs of running a business is the ongoing challenge. Add to that the need to be prepared for future technology developments and changes both known and unknown. It leaves many retailers feeling overwhelmed.

There is no doubt that the retail environment is quickly evolving into a hybrid of physical sales and e-commerce. The digital side still remains a minority, with in-store purchases still accounting for the majority of sales. Many retail futurists are projecting that within the next 10 years, the majority of all retail sales will be generated online.

In an increasingly e-commerce-based environment, customer experience will still need to remain front of mind. This drive to continually respond to the customer experience will need to be incorporated into the thinking of those who are shipping goods and as well as those who are dealing directly with customers.

We know that most of the retailers suffering due to e-commerce are the ones that have had a presence only in what is called “pure-play brick and mortar” business. Today, that model is truly being challenged as it doesn’t provide customers with the flexibility that they want to enjoy.

While retailers are aware of the challenges and the transformation of reshaping the market, it seems that many retailers are not extremely comfortable with this new reality. Retailers throughout Washington State will continue to be challenged to make very hard choices in 2019, both for today and to position themselves for the future.

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