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Bricks-and-mortars need not crumble — they simply need to compete.

According to Michele Dupré, retail and hospitality group vice president of Verizon Enterprise Solutions, retailers have plenty of ways to adjust to the industry’s digital turn; they just need to take the essential steps to keep up.

For the upcoming holiday shopping rush, Dupré urged retailers to start by examining any missteps from previous seasons and to apply solutions to future strategies. She articulated the importance of taking relevant reactive — and preventative — measures. Be it unexpected temperature changes or a change of demands in the market, Dupré explained that flexibility is essential. “It is really important that retailers have agility built into their DNA,” she said.

Accordingly, the vp stressed the importance of testing strategies and tools to identify what the most effective solutions are. Devices need to work and the infrastructure within stores requires careful attention. Moreover, she described the opportunity to collect pertinent consumer data from customer loyalty programs from past purchase behavior to real-time insights to specifics about the most effective way to engage with customers. A strong loyalty program and app adds a personal touch that retailers can — and should — take advantage of, she explained.

gross margins apparel retailers

Further, retailers must empower tech-savvy, in-store associates to best represent the brand. The associates should be armed with (and properly trained in) appropriate technology that matches — if not exceeds —what the customer brings into the store. “Associates need to be looked at as a true asset, not a temporary seasonal one,” explained Dupré.

In the same way that retailers should think of what it might be like to spend a day in the shoes of a customer, retailers should consider what it might be like to take a walk in the associates’ shoes, to ensure they are empowered with the appropriate knowledge and tools to best service customers for a seamless shopping experience.

It is leveraging these assets that will result in the differentiation that will set the store a part — a qualifier that bricks-and-mortar locations need to compete with online behemoths and small e-commerce retailers alike.

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