In a year as dramatic as 2020, the people and events we’ll remember most have undoubtedly left indelible impressions on our subconscious that will guide our decision making for many years to come. Retail, in particular, experienced a seismic shift to a new, bold way of doing business. It’s the inevitable turn that was destined to happen, but it came much more swiftly and profoundly than anyone ever could have imagined.
From Brick-and-Mortar Stores to eCommerce
When the new paradigm first took hold last spring it arrived like a storm. We saw it coming toward us only for a moment before the full force of COVID-19 barreled down on the world with an intensity that took everyone by surprise. Changes came at us left and right, with a pulsing, insecure energy that threw everyone off balance. Fortunately, retailers who had an active presence both at traditional streetside stores and on an ecommerce platform, were prepared to weather the storm. By switching their focus from their traditional brick-and-mortar stores to ecommerce, they could offer their customers the same products and an equally pleasing shopping experience online. Now it’s time to evaluate what we’ve learned, how we’ve grown, and the contributions of the people we’ve met along the way.
At Retail Dimensions
It’s been an interesting and busy year here at Retail Dimensions. After seventeen years and over 1,200 point of sale (POS) to ecommerce integrations under our belt, we experienced a pace of business unlike any we’ve seen before. Our clients suddenly discovered the need to synchronize their traditional business with the business occurring on their ecommerce platforms. For many, that meant finding a flexible solution that could handle the unique needs each retailer faced. They each came to Retail Dimensions with their own requirements, but with a similar need for a flexible integration solution that would provide better clarity and control over the entire fulfillment process.
We’d like to acknowledge a few of the most notable moments we experienced at Retail Dimensions, as we now turn our focus on the promise of 2021.
We made it through the most challenging year in our history with a great staff intact. Many have been with Retail Dimensions for a long time and offer unmatched wisdom and sound judgement, while others bring a fresh energy and forward-thinking imaginations to our team. Together, they are the strong team that makes our business successful.
The COVID-19 lockdowns forced many retailers to close their doors, but their online business boomed. This flexibility played a large role in which businesses survived and which did not. We are very grateful that only three of all our customers closed their businesses permanently. In fact, many of our retail customers thrived through their ecommerce sites, even extending their profits beyond what they lost from instore sales and seeing them weather the storm was gratifying to witness.
Within our business, the Retail Dimensions team did a tremendous job when our workload suddenly increased. Their continued dedication and diligence were on full display when the typically busy Black Friday and Cyber Monday holidays occurred with very few glitches to overcome. As much as 99% of the integrations we performed ran smoothly and did the job they were designed to do.
“By switching the focus from their brick-and-mortar stores to ecommerce; retailers offered their customers the same products and an equally pleasing online shopping experience despite the many challenges presented in 2020.”
Two Meaningful Events
Everyone in retail gave 100% during this unusual year and supported each other as we struggled to readjust in so many ways at a moment’s notice. We wanted to play a part in that collective effort and offered to suspend all charges for technical support from the beginning of March to the end of the year. It was our way of helping those retailers who may be struggling to keep up with the changes.
Attending industry events also underwent a significant change. Instead of mingling with our colleagues at out-of-town industry gatherings, we hopped on meeting platforms and joined breakout rooms to learn about the latest news in retail, including the BigCommerce Partner Conference in October. It was an unusual way to get together, but it was effective, and most importantly, it was safe for everyone involved.
Four Meaningful Relationships
All the POS dealers and software publishers that we had the pleasure to work with over the past twelve months could not have been more supportive of Retail Dimensions and our clients. They stayed with us when we struggled and lent their support when it wasn’t always easy for them to do so.
Of course, one of the greatest benefits Retail Dimensions experienced in 2020 was the deepening of our relationships with web agencies. In particular, with Web2Market, Arctic Leaf, and our longtime friends Web Studios West.
We can’t thank our awesome marketing team enough, Rose Concepts (Melody, Tess and Peter), Todd at Citrada Marketing and Dena and Mac of Bigfoot Business Development for their help and creative thinking.
A special thank you goes out to the incredible Retail Dimensions team. Without each of their great attitudes, knowledge, and fortitude it would have been a much different year as we faced the many challenges that came our way.
Now as we turn to the new year, we look at where the retail industry is right now and where it will be going over the course of the next twelve months. Here are our top predictions for this year.
- New consumer behaviors will continue to reshape the future of retail, making flexibility and innovation key advantages going forward.
- Ease of use and a variety of shipping options will lead customers to shop online.
- Artificial intelligence, like Alexa and Siri, will get less artificial and more beneficial for shoppers, as they continue to receive data through our online shopping activities.
- Customers are going to be expecting the same high level of service online that they receive at their local neighborhood store, making online fulfillment processes a competitive differentiator for retailers.
- With more and more retailers coming online, self-service platforms will continue to rise in popularity due to their easy to learn and maintain features.
- Accessibility is a foundational factor in the success of an ecommerce store. Those retailers with an omnichannel selling strategy will be the most recognized brands consumers will turn to in 2021.
The eCommerce Marketplace
- Ecommerce is already a very competitive marketplace and will continue to be so in the coming year. This is due to customers’ development of sustainable online shopping habits over the last year.
- Staying ahead of market trends gives you the advantage over your competitors. Retailers will achieve this by setting up a good analytical tracking tool to lead them to bigger, broader successes.
Branding and Customer Engagement
- Gaining brand recognition will also be very competitive this year, but ultimately it is a determining factor who gets to dominate the online marketplace. Get the word out about your products through marketing campaigns that speak to your typical consumer.
- As acquisition costs spike, customer retention becomes a top priority. This places even more importance on great customer service.
- Customers continue to want the same kind of personal experience they are used to getting at their favorite neighborhood store. Meeting this request means going beyond the original purchase to create a bond that will build brand loyalty.
Looking Forward to 2021
There’s more to come at Retail Dimensions!
We continue to move our business forward into the new year and see a bright future for the industry. Retail Dimensions is proud to play a part in its success, with new and creative initiatives on tap for next year. One example is our participation in the Super Friends Group that will be a boon to retailers everywhere. (More information on this to come in 2021!)
2021 will no doubt be full of surprises, just as 2020 was, but all of us have gained knowledge over the last year and have seen ourselves succeed with creative thinking and quick action. The flexibility with which we managed last year has made us much more confident to take on any challenge that comes our way and, as retailers know, every day is sure to be different than the last.
We wish all retailers a profitable and expansive new year!