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Mila D'Antonio | February 24, 2014

What's Your Retail Survival Plan for 2014?

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The U.S. Census Bureau reports that January retail numbers are down, 4 percent from the month before. Despite the assumption that winter weather may be to blame retailers must start thinking strategically about how to continue to attract consumers into their brick and mortar locations.

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As Cynthia Clark highlights in today's article, "Do Bricks and Mortar Have a Future?" they will only remain competitive as long as retailers are willing to adapt to a changing world. This means equipping associates with handheld devices, creating unique in-store experiences through product evangelists and educational initiatives, and deploying geo-location technologies for hyper-personalized engagement strategies.

As physical stores try to win the battle against online retailers, they must be strategic and innovate fast. By innovating quickly, employing technologically savvy staff in key positions, and creatively embracing social media, companies can boost the power of their own brands--their key differentiator in driving customer loyalty and profitable growth.

Once companies start embracing social as one of the means to win customers' business, they also must have policies and plans in place to avoid disastrous situations from occurring. As Anna Papachristos points out in her article, "Prepare not Scare: Weathering the Storm for Social Media Disaster," companies also must establish enterprisewide in-depth strategies for disaster prevention in their quest to win customers' loyalty.

"Fundamentally, every social media crisis is powered by emotion, and emotions are hard to predict and measure," said Mancusi-Ungaro, the CMO of BrandProtect, in the article. This was evident last week when IKEA discontinued a beloved shelving unit that had a cult following among album collectors for its unique ability to house and display their vinyl collections. When the news broke on IKEA Germany's Facebook page, defenders of the shelf created a social media storm on message boards and sites. A Save the Expedit Facebook group even formed with more than 20,000 likes in Germany alone. IKEA could have ignored the angry social media mobs, but instead a company spokesperson responded, saying, "customers may be worried that they won't have the wonderful function and flexibility that they had with EXPEDIT, but this is not the case." IKEA then tried to calm the fears of the devotees by offering an explanation of the alternative that will replace the Expedit called the Kallax and ensuring that functionality and durability is similar to the Expedit.

How do you plan to enhance the experience in your brick and mortar locations? Does part of that strategy entail having a social media disaster plan in place?

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