From The Editor | December 1, 2009

Get To The Heart Of What Retailers Need

In a recent article, Matt Pillar, chief editor of Integrated Solutions for Retailers magazine, revealed the results of research his magazine conducted with the help of Penn State University. The gist of Pillar's article is that retailers have a few major initiatives on which they plan to focus in 2010 — e-commerce, inventory management, and marketing being the most commonly identified. The data shared in Pillar's article serves as a great starting point for where you might want to focus your sales and marketing energies in 2010.

Indeed, with more than 50% of the nearly 400 retailers in the study pointing to those three major initiatives, there's a good chance your customers and prospects have similar goals. Of course, you might not be immediately equipped to help your customers with these initiatives. That doesn't mean you're out of the buy. For instance, there are some retail POS software packages that offer e-commerce/web functionality that can be turned on with a few clicks. Call your software vendor or talk to your distributor and ask about such functionality. Offering these features might be easier than you think.

Additionally, I don't need to tell you all the ways you can help retailers with their inventory management. If your customers are ready to improve this aspect of their business, it's time for you to begin strongly recommending mobile computers and printers, as well as software and systems to improve inventory management, control shrinkage, and add visibility to the supply chain.

Finally, there are a couple other areas retailers continue to need your help — gift cards and couponing systems. "Fifty-six percent of working Americans will purchase between 1 and 5 gift cards this season, and 33% will purchase more than six," Pillar reports. "Retailers with strong gift card programs realize the return on their heavy promotion — historically, more than half of gift card recipients have spent more than the value of the card at the time of its redemption." Also, due to the economy, coupon usage is up 57% in recent months. Essentially, gift cards and couponing stand as great revenue generators for retailers. Make sure your retail customers see the benefits.

By taking this data from a large collection of retailers, you've got a great collection of intel you can apply to your own retail customers in 2010. Good luck!