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Selling tech to retailers in 2017: 6 things you need to know

Chris Field
Chris Field

If you want to sell tech to retailers in 2017, here’s 6 things you need to know.

Some retailers, particularly those selling food, had a great Christmas, but don’t be fooled. 2017 is going to be tough for everyone, and this will affect tech companies. It may look like demand for innovation is high, but actually, the overall IT budgets will be under pressure. This is likely to favour investment in tech that can deliver costs savings and greater efficiency.

Consider what retailers are dealing with. 2016 was no fun in any of these areas, but in 2017 things can only get worse.

Rent and rates

Rates are going up and rents are not going down. The simple fact is, retailers will need to generate higher sales per square foot from stores that are already suffering an identity crisis in the face of multichannel sales. Sticking in a bigger click & collect desk is probably not the answer if this simply turns the store into a cross between an over-priced collection point and a warehouse.

Wages

Wages have and are rising, be it either Minimum Wage or the Living Wage. Retailers once talked about redistributing staff to other tasks, when they really meant headcount reductions; now, they may be more prepared to tell it like it is: fewer staff, doing more, equipped with the right technology, data and processes.

Compliance

In or out of Europe, the UK has an army of civil servants doggedly pursuing every compliance directive in law. Coupled with the fact that we are a largely law-abiding nation, the cost of compliance will continue to rise. Post-Brexit, Britain will still be pumping out new demands to retailers, possibly made worse by some of the anti-business sentiment being expressed by the current government.

Commodity prices

Inflation is coming, no doubt. The £ buys less and retailers will have to look at their cost base to work out how to pass as little as possible onto their customers, in order to stay competitive. There were scare stories hat this would be the last low-cost Christmas, but nobody has done any research to see if consumers responded and bought early. If they did, demand will be further hit. Worse, as prices rise, wages will not.

Pensions

Robert Maxwell pinched the Mirror employees’ pensions, while Philip Green failed to keep the pot topped up, so retailers will be forced to make greater provision. This will give them less flexibility to respond to market conditions and raise compliance and management costs.

Brexit

What’s to like? Nothing really. When Article 50 is triggered, pessimism will rise and put further dampers on the value of the pound and general demand. Jobs may go as companies relocate to more competitive economies. Let’s not use the R word (recession).

What this all adds up to

Not all doom and gloom! This is a retail market awash with opportunities for those companies able to spot market changes and have the flexibility and the courage to capitalise on them.

Large, slow-moving enterprises with complex and disintegrated sales and marketing operations are at a disadvantage. They may just have to use their size and influence to muscle their way in. The mid-size companies are probably best placed to succeed. Start-ups and other early-stagers are also well placed – if they act smart in the channel and build the right kind of partnerships.

Speaking as a marketing guy, there are some essential components tech companies need to successfully sell to retailers in 2017. These are:

  • Finely targeted prospect databases
  • Simple and clear propositions and associated messages
  • Relevant and challenging content and case studies
  • Digital communications based on a single view of the prospect
  • Direct connection into the sales team; and
  • Persistence across all marketing and sales activities

If you want support in any of these areas, give me a call on 01892 784500. You can also download my report – how retailers choose technology, and how to get them to choose you.

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