If you’re new to non-store retailing, you might be asking:
- Should I invest in non-store retailing?
- What is a non-store retailer?
- Which non-store retailing methods best fit my business?
- What role does technology play in executing them successfully?
Let’s find out.
Trends in non-store retailing are important
The retail industry has witnessed a number of trends come and go over the last few years. Of these trends, none may be quite as important to the success of today’s retailers as non-store retailing – due in large part to the retail digital transformation.
The digital transformation opened up new avenues for retailers to reach consumers. In response, consumers’ habits and expectations also changed.
The industry was evolving quickly, and retailers who resisted adapting to the shifting industry began to close their doors.
The past two years saw many trends in non-store retailing kick into overdrive.
Even the most traditional brick-and-mortar retailers diversified their sales methods to avoid bankruptcy.
How well retailers adapted to the digital age’s methods, technologies, and societal changes decided how successful their retail business would be.
What benefits can a non-store retailer expect?
Becoming a non-store retailer just makes sense.
Retailers who adapted to the changes brought on by the digital transformation quickly began to see the benefits of non-store retailing.
For one thing, your costs are lower without store leases, multi-store inventories, or store personnel.
Furthermore, starting a new non-store retail business or adding a new non-store channel to an existing retail business is simple thanks to 3rd party platforms that connect retailers to communities of consumers.
These platforms such as Alibaba and Etsy, enable you to target specific consumer demographics and create reach far beyond your regional footprint.
Retail analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) also contribute to non-store retail’s popularity.
These technologies make it easier to track inventory, understand consumers, and forecast demand.
The non-store retailing definition
The non-store retailing definition is simple: any sale of a product that takes place outside of a brick-and-mortar location.
You’ll see examples falling into two categories: direct selling and distant selling.
Non-store retailing examples: direct selling
The first category consists of person-to-person sales that take place away from a physical location.
Let’s consider some non-store retailing examples of direct selling:
Back in the day, salespeople knocked on doors offering to demo products in the home.
Although Tupperware and Avon are still around, changes in the way we live made door-to-door sales obsolete.
Nobody’s home anymore to answer the door.
3rd party platform enabled sales
Various online matchmaking services enable individuals to connect and arrange personal sales.
- Listing services — Craigslist introduces buyers and sellers who then make their transactions offline.
- Auction services — eBay’s reputation system creates trust between bidders and sellers.
- Marketplace platforms — Etsy helps artisans to find consumers with similar tastes.
These services now support thriving retailers as well as individuals.
Small but sophisticated, they source products globally and fulfill orders directly to customers.
Even the largest retailers use marketplaces for things like selling clearance products.
Non-store retailing examples: distance selling
The second category is distance selling or sales to a customer from a central location.
Consider some non-store retailing examples of distance selling:
Yesterday’s catalogues and call centers became today’s e-commerce industry. Online shopping is the second most popular way to buy after traditional brick-and-mortar stores — and according to a recent Shopify article, will be 21.8% of all sales by 2024.
Some retailers are online-only, while others have both physical and online environments.
Selling online enables retailers to expand their markets and offer existing customers broader assortments.
Teleshopping companies made the infomercial a pop-culture meme of the ‘80s. Despite the internet, channel surfers can still call into teleshopping channels like QVC.
Modern teleshopping targets web surfers instead.
Rather than producing infomercials, they promote products through “content” created by social media influencers and replace call centers with affiliate links.
Top 3 trends
Retailers who are able to stay on top of the following three trends in non-store retailing will keep ahead of the market and have an advantage over their competitors who don’t.
Growth in non-store sales will outpace in-store sales
Referring to the same Shopify article previously mentioned global retail e-commerce revenues will grow from $4.3 trillion in 2020 to $6.4 trillion by 2025.
Retailers without e-commerce plans — or who haven’t taken their websites seriously risk getting left behind, or even worse – closing their doors for good.
Spreading adoption of AI and advanced analytics
Non-store retailing creates endless amounts of new data for retailers.
To be successful, today’s retailers must-have technology that can connect all of their data into a single unified platform to provide a single source of truth.
A unified retail analytics solution is the answer as they are more capable than traditional spreadsheets, letting retailers:
- Automatically generate real-time, customer-specific upselling suggestions.
- Accurately forecast product demand to maximize inventory ROIs.
- Optimize fulfillment and returns to lower logistics costs.
- Track product performance to inform better retail assortments.
AI and advanced analytics reduce costs, boost revenues, and drive margins up.
By using these technologies effectively, retailers will outpace their competitors.
Meeting customers where they are
Customer touchpoints extend wherever customers are.
Digital channels, from social media to SMS create anytime, anywhere digital relationships.
Product fulfillment also must meet customers where they are — even in your stores. For example, BOPIS (buy online, pickup in-store) options let retailers weather lockdowns.
Without effective retail analytics, though, retailers can lose control of their fulfillment costs.
Technology is what’s trending in non-store retail
In essence, what is a non-store retailer but a traditional retailer using modern technologies?
Direct and distance selling can improve your business, but only if you efficiently manage your non-store operations. That’s where technologies like retail AI and advanced analytics come into play.
Contact Retalon to find out how advanced analytics can help you take advantage of these trends in non-store retailing.