As weather patterns and energy costs become less predictable, the need to maximize savings, gain control and monitor energy usage with minimum staff effort moves from the “nice-to-have” to “must-have list.”
Before 2013 was over, prognosticators were making bold predictions about retail margins in 2014. As technology disrupts the market and chains feel the squeeze, a number of key areas will demand attention in the coming months.
Looking ahead at a year that will most certainly see a continued evolution of what retail is and what it does, I am excited at the prospects of participating in, toying with and influencing that evolution.
When the 2013 holiday shopping season ended, it resulted in sluggish results for U.S. retailers. Price-match policies worked to fend off some showrooming, but these discounts also ate up margins at a very unhealthy rate.
Remember the days when stores differentiated themselves against the competition on service? When consumers sought out expert product recommendations from knowledgeable sales associates? And bought from the one who worked hardest to help them find just the right product for their needs?
If a sacred cow exists among retail strategists today, the price-match is undoubtedly it. As the weapon of first resort, it is the most obvious defense against the rapid rise of “showrooming” and the unbridled growth of online retailing behemoths like Amazon, ruthlessly cutting into retailers’ profits.