In todayâ€™s retail world, shoppers expect a lot and have grown accustomed to getting just that. What they want can be broken down in fairly simple terms: a fast and efficient experience regardless of their location. This encompasses experiences in-store, online, and access via a mobile device, and is specifically reflected by a retailerâ€™s ability to provide responsive staff service, quick access to info or answers, personalized offers and promotions, the ability to order (and pay) online and then pick up quickly (most often the same day) in-store, and tangibly, an in-store experience that is warm and engaging. If any of these â€œingredientsâ€ is missing, the customer may quickly go elsewhere.
These standards are high, but are often further perpetuated by intense competition and the quest for innovation by individual retailers in an effort to stay in (and ahead of) the game. The following tactics highlight what you can do to keep your store at the front line of customer efficiency and satisfaction.
Aim to employ your strategies from the customer perspective.
By keeping the end user experience at the forefront of all that you do, you will never lose sight of your exact intended result. The customer is primarily focused on speed and efficiency, but you also need to set the stage for a positive and welcoming environment that will appropriately supplement their needs. Upon entering your physical store, engage with a positive vibe and friendly employee greetings that encourage specific product inquires and availability. Shoppers also want to instantly know whatâ€™s hot or what sales your store may have, so make these items easy to spot. But itâ€™s not all about what they can see; store associates need to know which products to direct the shopper to at all times and also provide product recommendations for additional products they might like once the associate understand their tastes.
Consider how the customer experience can be enhanced by technology.
Technology is essential for success, and you must be prepared to meet the increasing technological demands of your customers. This technology not only reflects your investment in the customer, but it also enhances the efficiency of the customer experience, which is huge. Incorporate technology into your business in a way that is both efficient and appropriate for your niche. This may be in the form of a mobile-optimized shopping experience, mobile rewards, information kiosks, mobile payment options, and so forth. In addition to increased availability of technology to the customer, make technology readily available to your employees, as they are the ones who must relay the company image and knowledge in order to keep customers happy.
Be available and relatable.
Provide an open means of communication between your brand and your customers, as their communication and satisfaction are crucial to your sustainability. Personalize your interactions and related offers in order to engage them and use this relationship to encourage repeat business. Shoppers are also more informed than ever, and your employees need to recognize this and work to supplement the vast knowledge made available to the consumer before they enter your store. At the end of the day, your business needs to plan appropriately for both the expected and also the unexpected (think holidays or product promotions). The last thing that you want is for a customer to experience heavy delays in service or product availability due to inefficient planning. If you can maintain a firm grasp on the availability of both your goods and service, you are placing yourself in a great position to provide a swift and efficient customer experience.
Provide a seamless transition between the physical, online and mobile worlds.
Customers have grown to expect this ability to transition from the store to online seamlessly. Many shoppers have researched products online and are incredibly specific (as well as knowledgeable) in their search for the perfect product. If a product is not in stock, you will greatly increase the chance of keeping that sale if you can provide a method of ordering from the store and delivering directly to the customer. Another great method of ensuring both the sale and positive customer experience is to offer customers the ability to order before they come to the store and for you to have the item ready for pick-up that same day. This way, when customers are in a hurry or on the go (which is quite often the norm these days), they can order from your mobile-optimized storefront with the option to pick it up in-store. This blend of online accessibility with in-store product immediacy is a fantastic way to satisfy a wide customer base.
Speed and efficiency can be the primary driving forces behind the notion of a positive customer experience, but should be supplemented appropriately by careful planning, strategies, and of course the incorporation of technology and immediate accessibility into your retail business. If you can carefully incorporate these elements into your brand, you ensure for your customers a positive, engaging, and seamless experience that will collectively drive much desired repeat business.