Checklist: What you need in place before investing in the latest retail trends

Should your organization invest in an AR strategy? Does it make sense to experiment with experimental pop-up stores for your brand? Where does the latest trend of experiential retail fit into your long-term business plans?

As new tech and changing consumer behavior continues to affect how retailers operate and ultimately serve their customers, it’s proving to be incredibly difficult to know which trends are worthwhile investments. It’s crucial to have a strong operational foundation in place to deploy these trends across your brand successfully.

We’ve put together a quick checklist covering what you need to consider before you decide to invest in the latest experiential retail trends.

Do you have the necessary resources?

Though it may seem obvious, the decision to devote company assets to current retail trends naturally requires you divert resources from other vital components of your business.

Rolling out a company-wide AR strategy or developing an ambitious social responsibility initiative may align with your current organizational goals, but do you have enough resources in place to do so successfully?

Spreading your company resources too thin can often negatively impact other crucial areas of your organization such as customer service, employee training and R&D. Consider reinvesting in other core areas of your business first before pulling the trigger on the latest trend.

“Today I think the biggest mistake is introducing new technology and gadgetry for the sake of it while failing to get the basics right. You hear so many CEOs and senior people in retailing talking about the next big idea when their stores are abysmal, and customer service leaves a lot to be desired. Progress is vital, but so is managing the day-to-day business.” (Neil Saunders, Managing Director of Retail GlobalData in Vend)

Is this something your customers want?

While keeping tabs on current and future trends is a worthwhile investment as an organization, jumping on every trend that surfaces may not often reflect well on your brand. Forcing a trend into your business structure can be seen by investors and consumers alike as ‘gimmicky’ and potentially do more harm than good.

“Retailers that win won’t rely on the latest technological advancements, distribution models, or assortment strategies. They will win by delivering a meaningful human interaction that gives consumers confidence in what to buy.” (Nick Stagge, VP of Marketing at ExpertVoice in Vend)

Use this guiding question when deciding on which trends to invest in: “Does this trend answer a customer need? Or are we trying too hard to make it work in our stores?” Hold out for the trends that drive a better experience for your customers. Those are the ones that stick.

Also keep in mind that your customer can tell right away if you’re being inauthentic. Avoid getting into the habit of jumping on the latest trends purely for PR points. Instead, invest initiatives that speak to your brand's values and mission as well as your consumers.

Can you handle rapid growth?

It’s just as important to have a plan in place for success. What if your investment in the latest trend is effective? A perfectly executed trend can generate growth and press very quickly. Without the proper resources or systems in place, it can lead to missed opportunities, running out of inventory and more.

“Fast growth looks good, but companies can get into trouble when they grow too fast. Are they able to keep pace with their expansion, fill orders, hire and train enough qualified employees?” (Investopedia)

If the trend does work as planned, do you have the team to handle the increase in sales and customers? Are you able to scale your customer experience as you grow rapidly? Do you have enough of your best-selling items in stock? Anticipate success with a good plan for meeting potential demand.

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