With the rise of the online marketplace, consumers have more options than ever to purchase products. Whether they opt for Amazon.com or the local grocery store, one thing all retailers should strive for is to improve the customer experience. However, with so many different consumers, each with their own unique personal preferences, finding a “one size fits all” solution for retailers is extremely difficult.
The main issue, however, is clearly defining the factors of a “perfect” retail experience.
What is important to consumers today?
And more importantly, how can retailers of all shapes and sizes exceed customer expectations?
We’ll outline the top 3 ways to create amazing retail experiences that will improve customer service, and potentially lead to improved sales and bottom-line profits.
Key Components of Retail Success Today
The future of retail depends on improving the customer experience. In years past, people believed that the growth of the online marketplace meant a sure and steady decline for high street retailers. However, in recent years consumers have become increasingly attracted to the personal interaction offered by brick and mortar retailers. They opt to invest in a warm and expert experience as opposed to securing the lowest price possible. Due to this shift in consumer shopping habits, retailers should evolve to meet the new hybrid expectations and desires of their customers.
Today’s customer won’t visit your store if they know they will have an unexceptional experience, as this is possible from their couch with a swipe of their finger. By establishing an immersive retail buying experience, the retailer can drive traffic to their store, which creates brand affection as the shopper not only buys – but leaves with a positive shopping experience. The fusion of entertainment and retail shopping elevates the customer experience and is the upcoming trend that is expected to drive commerce in the future.
Creating amazing retail experiences boils down to three essential elements; your retail space, the way you promote it, and how you drive and grow customer loyalty.
Looking for Retail Space
When you are considering the location to build or start your retail business, consider the following questions:
- Who is your core customer? You can’t improve customer retail experience if you don’t first define your intended customer.
- What is your brand? No, this isn’t the company name, it’s what your company represents.
- What can you handle? While a location that has multiple possible consumers is great, if you can’t deal with the volume, it will backfire and create a negative customer experience.
Anytime you are thinking about building a retail location, always consider your customer experience and your ability to cater to their needs quickly, professionally, and with a focus on superior customer service.
It’s also crucial to consider other businesses and how they can impact the traffic of possible consumers. If you’re going to build a high-end boutique focused on fashion or opulent products, building it next to a discount clothing store that specializes in used-clothing repurposing is not taking advantage of a similar consumer demographic. In this situation, building the boutique next to a hair or nail salon would be optimal. You may also like to consider your insurance options.
Promotion Ideas for Retail Stores
Once you have your store front established, the next step is to determine how you’re going to draw in traffic when you’re open for business. This begins and ends with marketing. Unlike advertising, marketing has the primary goal of creating plans or programs that locate customers, provide incentives for them to visit your location, and finally, convince them to purchase from your retail location.
Marketing breaks down to a three-part plan:
- Lead collection: The first step of sales is gathering qualified leads or potential customers. Depending on your type of retail location, the lead generation process can be as simple as handing out flyers in front of the store, to social media marketing, or advanced online marketing platforms.
- Lead conversion: The second step is to convince potential customers to visit your retail storefront. This is the process of converting those leads into potential sales. This is usually established by creating sales, or promotional events that are attractive to consumers.
- Sales incentives: The final step is creating incentives to purchase your products. Maybe it’s a discount sale, or perhaps partnering with other businesses to offer discounts to their stores. For that pub example in the beginning, you could use coupons to refer your customers to the popular chicken wing store across the street – if you don’t sell them yourself, and you could have the chicken wing store have a referral discount for drinks at your pub.
How to Build Customer Loyalty in Retail
The final way to improve the customer retail experience is building loyalty. This is arguably the easiest step for retailers to accomplish as it takes one important attribute – positive customer service.
Consumers today have options, but in the end, they tend to gravitate to retailers who take care of their needs first and foremost. Building customer loyalty in retail goes much further than simply dealing with their unhappiness through having a good return policy on products if the customer is not satisfied. It also involves being a proactive positive communicator, listening to their product or service requests, and then making changes to your business to cater to their desires.
Here are a few practical ways of building customer loyalty in today’s evolving retail world:
- From creating promotional or frequent shopper discount cards, to offering online or email marketing coupons or discounts, today’s retailer has multiple ways of creating improved customer service programs.
- In many ways, customers are looking for acknowledgement or a gesture of being appreciated. It’s the little things, like including a personal message on their receipt, or personally thanking them for visiting your business. Not only does this stimulate repeat business, but it leads to word of mouth advertising, which draws more like-minded consumers.
- Newsletters or social media activation with consumers stimulates conversation. It improves communication with customers and leaves them engaged, with your brand being the name on their lips.
Today’s retailer has multiple opportunities for expansion and competing head to head with online businesses. By embracing these three simple methods of improving the customer shopping experience, you’ll set yourself and your business up for success today and into the future.