5 ways Canadian retailers can thrive in a digitally transforming world

Small and medium-sized retailers need to innovate if they want to not only survive, but thrive in the 21st century, according to a new report by the Canadian arm of accounting firm Binder Dijker Otte (BDO).

For those wondering how, the “Retail Trends in Canada 2018” report, released Monday, includes five trends for small and medium-sized Canadian retailers to watch:

  • Technology such as automation, artificial intelligence, data analytics, virtual and augmented reality, and mobile-based technologies such as beacon or mobile payment technologies;
  • Experiential retail – essentially brand-based community building. “Retailers need to let customers interact with a product and build communities that will engage current and potential customers,” BDO wrote in an Aug. 27 release;
  • Hybrid or omni-channel retail, which has replaced the tired battle between e-commerce and bricks and mortar. It is more important, BDO says, for retailers to reach their customers wherever they happen to be;
  • Millennial shopping habits: Not only are millennials the largest spending cohort for retailers, BDO says, they’re influencing the shopping habits of other demographics as well; and
  • Customer relationship management, and the data collection opportunities that come with it. “Retailers need to develop a customer relationship management program that captures and integrates implicit and explicit customer data,” BDO said in the release.

“Canadian retailers are lagging behind their U.S. and U.K. counterparts on both the implementation of e-commerce and the use of data analytics,” BDO Canada partner and national retail leader Eric Matusiak said in the release. “But this doesn’t have to be the case; Canada’s retailers can and should strive for more and better. Even a small retailer can enhance their customer experience and improve their business processes – without spending a lot of money.”

Following the trends identified and reacting accordingly can help retailers “future-proof” their business, BDO says.

“To succeed, small and medium-sized retailers should focus on a true customer-first retail design, develop an omnichannel strategy to reach their customers, implement or upgrade e-commerce, and rethink every step and stage of the value chain,” the company said.

“Several of these trends in the industry have had enough traction to be proven, but there’s still time for retailers to adapt to them,” Matusiak said. “A methodical approach is recommended: develop a holistic strategy rather than jumping on the bandwagon.”

You can download the report here.

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Eric Emin Wood
Eric Emin Wood
Former editor of ITBusiness.ca turned consultant with public relations firm Porter Novelli. When not writing for the tech industry enjoys photography, movies, travelling, the Oxford comma, and will talk your ear off about animation if you give him an opening.

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