This blog post was written by Sarah Jane Callender
The retail sector is facing huge changes. It is no longer enough for retailers to simply sell their products. With big, online and retail giants like Amazon, Apple, and Zappos, your retail store has to offer something which these corporations cannot; this is tangible, physical, and emotional experiences. So, here are some tips on the best ways to do it:
1. Excellent Customer Service is Priority
Customers are number one. Making your customer feel welcome and happy in your store is essential. Any choices you make for your business should include the consumer at the heart of the discussion. It all starts with your employees. There is a linear relationship between in-person interaction and customer experience. When hiring new members of staff, consider focusing on their attitude as well as their skills and experience. Although work experience is important, stores generally perform better when their associates have a natural service-based character than when an experienced associate has the right skills but the wrong attitude.
2. Create a Company Culture
Retailers must balance operational efficiencies with customer experience. This can be achieved by creating a strong and clear company culture. The problem when a retail store focuses solely on operational efficiency is that the business starts to function like an assembly line, where worth is determined by a worker’s productivity. This means there is little room for incentives to go beyond the task and focus on the customer.
A great way to counter this is by creating and investing in your company’s culture, focusing on talent, capital, and training. The businesses that are best at this spend time and energy motivating, inspiring, and rewarding their team. This provides incentives where employees want to work smarter in your store, both for the reward, and because they are invested in your company’s culture.
3. Display Reviews and Consumer Feedback
The most credible form of advertising comes straight from the people we know and trust.
Displaying little reviews and phrases from consumers next to your products, or having a review or consumer feedback box in-store, as well as on your website, can really boost sales and enhance the customer experience. Not only does this make your retail store seem more trustworthy, it also shows how good and reliable your products and company are. It shows that you value the consumer. Why not include social media as part of this marketing strategy as well? Social media is a fantastic way to reach out to wider audiences, and to advertise and market to your existing and potential customers.
4. Improve the In-Store Experience
Late last year, one study found 44% of retail executives in Germany, Japan, the U.K, and the U.S. claiming that improving in-store experiences was a strategic priority for the year.
As brick and mortar stores struggle to stay afloat, we must consider what differentiates the physical store from what is online and capitalize on this.
Retailers should provide their employees with the technologies, tools, and information so that they can add value to the in-store shopper. The brick and mortar store can offer physical in-store experiences and demonstrations. For example, Dyson’s London store allows customers to try their vacuums; Apple allows consumers to try their latest gadgets and holds regular demonstrations; Lush lets their consumers try their hand creams, body lotions, and face masks. Whatever your retail store, there is always a way to connect with your clients and make an emotional impact.
5. Connect Physical and Digital Experiences
Retailers must now realize that the customer journey is no longer linear, but involves a series of backward and forward decisions.
For example, it is important to consider your online content and how it inspires and informs store shopping. Brands should aim to create a seamless experience that connects their online and social media content with their brick and mortar shopping experience.
How can you achieve this? You could start by analyzing your customer journey, working out how customers interact with your web content compared with their in-store experience. Data drives this. By analyzing your consumer buying decisions and what channels are involved, you can create a tailored service perfect for each customer to promote in-store foot traffic.
6. Make it Personal
Personalizing your communications and marketing material can go a long way with your customer. It makes them feel valued and a part of your brand.
You can maximize this approach in store by explaining or including signage of why your products are ideal for a particular customer. For example, if you’re retail store targets young women, use signage, feedback from customers, or create events specifically targeted at your consumers, and personally advise your shopper exactly why your products are perfect for them.
7. Build a Community
Everyone wants to be a part of something and this goes for shoppers as well.
One way to do this is by rewarding your customers. Include discounts for loyal consumers or have a customer loyalty program, such as ‘buy 10 drinks and get the eleventh for free’. This will strengthen the relationship between your retail store and your shoppers.
Social media can help with this too. Twitter campaigning or creating hashtags are fantastic ways to advertise and build excitement for a product or an event in your store.
Other ways include sending a bi-weekly newsletter to subscribers and loyal customers, or giving shoppers a gift card, or exclusive discounts for your store.
PromoPRNT is a fantastic way to do just this. PromoPRNT allows retailers to automatically create printed promotions to print after the paper receipt. These incentives and bonuses will be delivered directly to shoppers’ hands, boosting customer retention and notifying customers of new deals and promotions. Check it out here.
Overall, it is becoming increasingly important that retailers know how to embrace change. Retail brands should be open to embracing new technologies to meet their consumer expectations and challenge their online competitors. As the brick and mortar store becomes increasingly threatened, the retailers that survive will be those that find ways to improve shopper experiences and provide customers with the most satisfying post-purchase and loyalty-building relationships.
The lesson here is clear: differentiate yourself based on the experiences you deliver to customers, not on the products you sell.