New research highlighting the major challenges facing merchants over the next three years has been released by the National Buying Group (NBG).
The research found that top priority for merchants is having a strong local brand identity, with 94% of partners agreeing or strongly agreeing this is vital to retaining and attracting customers. The second major concern is the availability of products and a consistent supply – 85% say this would remain a long-term challenge.
The other concerns in the “top six” are the importance of social media as a marketing tool (83%); having a strong e-commerce offering (81%) coupled with e-trading solutions to boost efficiency in ordering, invoicing and stock management (79%); and staff recruitment and retention, in particular attracting high quality, younger employees (74%).
NBG’s managing director Nick Oates, said, “Merchants adopt change at differing paces and sometimes struggle to overcome traditional views and practices. We wanted to do something to support change in the industry while making our partners feel confident in sharing their opinions and giving them a space to help shape the next generation of merchants. We’re very much looking forward to seeing how Merchants of Change will develop in the coming months.”
The research comes as NBG launched a new initiative to future-proof businesses at its annual conference in Liverpool. An initial session took place at the conference with 25 partners attending and expressing an interest in joining Merchants of Change. The first meetings will focus on key issues highlighted in the survey and future agendas and priorities will be set by the group.
Merchants of Change will be rolled out across NBG with partners encouraged to join whether they meet in person, on conference calls, or using online messaging tools.