4 Biggest Challenges Facing Retailers in 2017-18


The retail industry is not for the faint of heart, but for the lionhearted among them, retailers can face even the toughest of challenges in store for them in 2018. As headlines fill news feeds and stores seek ways to reinvent, reinvigorate, and refresh their way into consumers’ shopping lists, the retail landscape continues to shift and twist. With the 2017 holiday season peering around the corner, the biggest challenges facing retailers today may be overcome by planning now.

Challenge #1: Digital Disruption

Customer behavior is changing rapidly. While ecommerce has its effect on brick-and-mortar stores, reports still show customers prefer purchasing most products in-store. However, customers are using the Internet to do reconnaissance work—that is, search online for product information, best prices, and comparable and/or complementary products. Forbes reports that while e-commerce now accounts for approximately 10% of all retail sales, both Forrester and Deloitte estimate that web-influenced physical store sales are about 5X online sales. Retailers can create a win for the 2017 holiday season by positioning themselves now to face digital disruption head-on.

Challenge #2: Logistics

Technology continues to transform payment processing and customer demand seems to be fueling the no line, on-demand, or prepaid (online) options of completing in-store purchases. Digital wallets are replacing slow legacy payment systems. Without the right technology in place, you won’t be able to offer these payment methods, potentially losing a chunk of your customer base, advises BluePay.

Order fulfillment from online purchases and in-store pickup options represent another element of logistics that challenge retailers today. According to PwC’s U.S. consumer markets leader Steve Barr, stores need to deliver a better experience when online shoppers enter the store, provide clear signs for online shoppers picking up their online orders, and create an overall user-friendly experience developed by walking in the shoes of the customer, reports the Denver Post.

Challenge #3: In-store Experience

Shoppers want remarkable experiences when they enter into a store. They want to interact with products, enjoy personalized experiences, and engage their senses with creative sights, smells, tastes, and touch. Virtual reality, showrooming, and other experiential retail strategies can position retailers at the top of their category when experiential retail is done well. Trailblazers like Nordstrom, Sephora, and Anthropologie serve as great models for retailers to improve their customers’ in-store experience.

Challenge #4 : Omnichannel

According to Centric Digital, properly implemented technology designed and aligned to customer needs can lead to an improved omnichannel customer experience and boost a retailer’s bottom line. Harvard Business Review coined the “clicks and bricks” concept as a way of leveraging various digital platforms—websites, social media, apps, for example—to engage and entreat customers into brick-and-mortar sales and fulfillment. As the holiday season approaches, retailers can create multiple ways to reach their customers through omnichannel strategies.