It is undeniable that specialty retailers have many key attributes that will ensure their relevance in the years to come. This is in stark contrast to the decline of big box retail as they have gradually lost touch with their customer base and it’s changing needs. Even some of the most successful direct-to-consumer brands are opening retail locations, as they see the obvious benefits provided by an in-person shopping experience.
If we look closely, the most successful retailers share some important characteristics that provide exceptional value for their customer base.
#1 - Involved in the Community
When we look at what drives consumer behavior, we can’t forget the emotional connection specialty retailers offer to their consumers. These stores are at the heart of their vibrant community of like-minded individuals, seeking a shared experience.
Retailers can foster this connection with store sponsored events to promote community engagement that in turn affects buying decisions. This creates loyal, repeat customers, due to their sense of belonging and the increased value found in community.
We would argue this is exponentially more important than the convenience factor offered by e-commerce alone. Although we live in a landscape dominated by e-commerce giants, the outdoor industry continues to stand out as an experience and value driven segment.
#2 - Unparalleled Customer Experience
Specialty retail provides customers with an unmatched, in-person shopping experience. This leads to retailers being able to offer insight and recommendations on personalized, specific products that meet the customer’s unique needs.
D2C E-Commerce brands try to replicate this with online quizzes attempting to provide a custom recommendation. This only leads to a canned recommendation and doesn’t stack up against a knowledgeable sales person interacting with a customer and taking their personal requirements into account.
Not only can sales associates confidently stand behind the products their buyers select, but they become a trusted source who can recommend new products and brands, leading to less reservation from customers and a willingness to try new brands they may be unfamiliar with. It also addresses core specialty consumers’ desire to stand out from the crowd, as these retailers provide a selection not available in most big box retailers.
#3 - Shopping In Person Translates to Customer Loyalty and Satisfaction
It is clear that shopping in person translates into greater customer satisfaction, fewer returns, and long-term customer loyalty. Did you know that touching and feeling products when shopping in person affects the way we make purchasing decisions?
According to a study conducted, simply holding a product increases the chances of a customer buying it. Researchers also highlighted the fact that customers who were able to touch a product prior to purchasing were willing to pay more for it. This supports the concept that specialty brands who align with specialty retailers can deliver a premium product at a premium price point with higher margins.
Another crucial point to consider are product return rates. Even Shopify acknowledges this as a common pain point, citing only an 8-10% return rate for brick-and-mortar purchases when compared to 20% for e-commerce.
In response to this, brands must continue to prioritize specialty retail partnerships to be successful and remain relevant.
Specialty Retail Is An Essential Component of Your Brand’s Wholesale Channel
Specialty retail is here to stay as it provides consumers with a knowledgeable and authentic community, exceptional customer service, and the highest rates of satisfaction and loyalty.
These stores need to be the heart of your wholesale strategy for the ongoing value that they provide. Brands should be supporting these important partners with a digital content and e-commerce platform, enabling them to provide top notch shopping experiences for customers, season after season.