There has been a lot of discussion around the erosion of brand
value and the fact that consumer brand loyalty has been slipping for an
extended period of time.  Many factors
have contributed to this, not the least of which is the ability to
compare
products and prices on the Internet. 

Any
given retail chain or online store also develops its own ‘brand image’
that can improve or deteriorate based on the overall shopping experience and
merchandise lines.  For example, in the
early years of online sales there were a number of absolutely livid Web
shoppers whose purchases didn’t arrive in time for Christmas – those store
brands certainly suffered!   Now that time has healed the wounds and the
retailers involved managed to revamp their systems and rebuild their service
and delivery image, online sales continues to reach record numbers.  

 

But rather than looking at it as a single company or brand
that is losing value, I would argue that when one brand is slipping more often
than not another is gaining.  An example
of that would be the wireless handset industry – while Motorola lost its place
as a leader, BlackBerry held its own and now even new players such as Dell and
Google are entering the market.  You
might say the technology-driven cellular business bears little resemblance to
your specific retail sector, but the lesson is that there is a constant need to
build and refresh a brand and not remain static.  While the phrase ‘death of brands’ has been
used, to die could imply a sudden and specific event.  Perhaps viewing a brand more in the context of
a relationship might be a better way to look at it – usually a series of things
happens over a period of time that gradually erode or ‘tarnish’ one’s feelings.
 

 

Although your company might not devote as much specific
attention to image as some of the big names do, each of your customers has a
definite impression of your ‘brand’ in terms of how they think and feel when
they consider shopping at your store.  The value of your image continues to evolve (for
better OR worse) over time, as do those of your competitors.  My key point is don’t take the relationship for granted!  If each and every aspect of your retail
environment is not enhancing your customers’ image of your store, then you may
be giving them reason to consider shopping elsewhere.

 

The current economy may lead some consumers to shop smarter
and consider brand substitutes, but at the same time that doesn’t mean that
every single shopper’s buying habits have changed completely or gone down-scale.  In fact, some consumers are actually taking
this as an opportunity to compensate for reduced consumption in certain areas
by improving the quality of what they do purchase and prepare for the
future!  This in turn may offer new
opportunities for retailers who are better at observing and taking advantage of
shifting consumer habits, and who can then retain those customers over the long
run. 

 

Even iconic store brands such as Wal-Mart are finding it
necessary to rethink and redesign their retail environment in an effort to
provide a more pleasant shopping experience and attract/retain customers, even
after the absence of competitors such as K-Mart.  Wal-Mart’s ability to drastically lower shelf
heights without reducing the number of SKUs was possible largely due to their already-existing
systems and well-honed supply chain.  The
reduced inventory without stock-outs helps improve their numbers and serves
to reinforce their ‘low price leader’ brand!  Every item in a store may have had as many as a
dozen or more system and point of sale system interactions if you look across
all functions from merchandise planning to ordering, stocking, and final sale,
and every one of these point of sale systems works in tandem to support the store’s
strategy and brand image.

 

The retail information system, (POS) itself has moved beyond
basic operational efficiency and become a critical tool to support rapid and
accurate merchandising decisions and the best possible consumer experience,
both in-store and online.  Although a
smaller chain may not have the economies of volume purchasing, almost every
other customer service feature or competitive advantage that the biggest
companies have can now be matched or bettered by newer mid-tier POS systems
that cost only a fraction of what the top-tier POS systems do.  So while planning your strategy and company
brand imageHealth Fitness Articles, you should take into account the need to support your direction
with the tools and infrastructure that will allow you to compete on an equal
footing! 

Source: Free Articles from ArticlesFactory.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Scott Kreisberg is a pioneer in being the first in selling point of sale
software systems to retailers in the 80’s when they were still using
cash registers, and first-handedly changed the face of retailing. His
journey to shift retailer misconceptions about using a computer in their
retail business and point of sale, was a long one and today Scott’s
company, One Step Retail
Solutions
, has transcended the retail service industry becoming the
leading retail technology service provider in the U.S. Scott has watched
the economy hit 3 major slumps and a vast majority of his clients
survived those economic downturns. Now, he’s taking his clients through
the next economic disaster. Scott is also host of Internet TV series, “Smart
Retail
” on the Internet channel http://smartretail.tv.