How to Prevent “Retail Apocalypse” from Happening to You

When retail stores begin to shut down in droves, it creates a phenomenon known as a “retail apocalypse.” The famed “retail apocalypse” started back in 2010 with mass store closures that took place as a result of a 50 percent decline in mall traffic. But the evolution of the retail apocalypse further evolved in 2016 with 2,056 retail store closures and a record 8,139 store closures in 2017. Yet, the “retail apocalypse” never really went away as bricks-and-mortar stores are on pace to beat 2017’s record. According to BDO International, almost 7,300 stores closed in the first half of 2019—more than any other year.

While the retail apocalypse continues to evolve, there are strategies that warehouse managers and e-commerce store owners can implement to help prevent this phenomenon from happening to them. Read on to discover the necessary steps e-commerce companies should take to avoid being a part of the retail apocalypse.

1. Causes Behind the “Retail Apocalypse”

One of the main reasons behind the past and current “retail apocalypse” are private-equity firms. These firms accounted for 80 percent of the bankruptcy filings in the first half of 2019 which often meant unsustainable debt. Moreover, e-commerce’s growth impacted brick-and-mortar stores by drawing audiences away from malls to shop online with the conveniences of fast and free shipping and a wide product selection. As more people shopped online, in-store sales declined.

2. “Retail Apocalypse” Signs to Notice

The “retail apocalypse” didn’t happen overnight. Instead, there were signs that bricks-and-mortars often ignored. It’s still crucial for businesses to pay attention to these signs as they can help e-commerce leaders and warehouse managers determine whether or not their company is facing a “retail apocalypse.” Some common signs to look for include:

  • Consumer behavior shifts. A change in consumer behavior can mean a company may soon become a casualty of a “retail apocalypse.” Thus, innovation and action are crucial in keeping up with consumer behavior shifts. Ultra-fast fashion retailer Fashion Nova focusing less on its physical store and leveraging Instagram and celebrity endorsements to redirect traffic to its website, beating long-standing fast-fashion retailer Forever 21 as one of the most searched websites on Google in 2018. Forever 21 could not keep up and eventually filed bankruptcy in 2019.
  • Diminished brand reputation. When the brand’s reputation is tarnished or lost its appeal, it’s an indication that the company is heading towards a “retail apocalypse.” This happened to companies like Sears and Toys R Us, which lost its appeal to customers over time and maintaining less attractive products or inconvenient services. 

3. Tips to Prevent a “Retail Apocalypse”

Preventing the “retail apocalypse” calls for taking crucial steps to avoid being part of the fold. Here are three key tips warehouse managers and e-commerce leaders can use to circumvent the “retail apocalypse.”

  • Take advantage of automation. Warehouse managers and e-commerce leaders can use automation to speed up the delivery and fulfillment process with shipping platforms and tools, such as ShipWorks. ShipWorks’ Rules and Actions features simplified automating repetitive tasks, such as filling out customer shipping details. This helps reduce errors and save time on completing a repetitive yet crucial step in the fulfillment process.
  • Use data integration. Warehouse managers can also use data integration to support in-store pickup orders that run out of stock. For instance, e-commerce leaders can use ShipWorks to support market order processing from marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy.
  • Leverage shipping software to facilitate fast shipping. E-commerce companies can enhance the customer experience by offering fast shipping. To facilitate fast shipping, warehouse managers can use shipping software like ShipWorks. For instance, ShipWorks’ Best Rate tool makes it easy to support rate comparison across multiple carriers simultaneously. The huge advantage of using the Best Rate tool is that it also saves time and conveniently generates all the rates on one screen, unlike similar rate comparison tools.

Final Thoughts

E-commerce companies are not immune to experiencing an “apocalyptic” event. Thus, it’s crucial for e-commerce leaders to notice consumer behavior, innovate, and leverage technology like ShipWorks to continue to meet customers’ needs. E-commerce leaders can contact ShipWorks to learn more about its features and how to use it to stay competitive while avoiding a “retail apocalypse.”

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