With online market places making a dent in traditional retail sales, to the extent that other ecommerce players find it safer to be on one of the market places for enhancing their sales. But brick & mortar retailers are re-inventing themselves to become more relevant to the local customer.
Addressing the customer personally, if he or she is a regular visitor, is a sure-fire way to build loyalty. Along with a genuine smile, salespersons who have graduated from closing the register to providing empathetic counselling and guidance to customers, earn their gratitude by way of repeat sales.
The only reason a customer gives up the comfort of ordering online, avoiding traffic, inclement weather, surly and pushy salespersons and endless (read almost 8 minutes) waiting at the check-out, is to touch and feel the products, try out the products before purchase, get post-purchase satisfaction by endorsement at the check-out, experience a moment of calm in a good environment aided by a pleasant surprise of a gift or a cup of coffee!
Remember, stocking, cleaning and counting inventory can wait – a customer cannot! Make use of tools that are available to help you keep the footfalls coming – beacon technology that tracks customer purchases and in-store browsing, footfall analysis that tells you when traffic is peaking and when it is dull and the reason for it, mobile applications that can make both the salesperson’s and the customer’s experience better and more importantly, inventory tracking software that can locate the correct SKU within the immediate brand network.
Tracking footfalls alone is not enough. With insights available through data mining, it will be possible to create ‘focal points’ within the store, where customers can spend more time on browsing your key products. Making displays multi-dimensional and easily available to view on social media provides customers both a frame of reference and a post-purchase justification – “it came recommended on social media!”
Yes, an online presence is a must to draw in customers, especially with hyper-local targeting with special deals and time-limited offers. It has been observed that when larger retail chains shut down a local store, the ecommerce in the zip code dropped significantly.
Realizing that the customer is theirs outside the store and that the store front needs to have a digital footprint to stay engaged with loyal shoppers, brick & mortar retailers are able to hold their own against the ecommerce giants and discount chains.
Today’s customer is looking beyond ‘good prices’ and is constantly searching for rewarding shopping and life experiences.
Even discount retail chains have realized that there is only so much the price reduction on goods can excite the customer – and they have invested in customer experience tracking and analytics solutions to provide custom experiences as well as experiential shopping.
The customer was always the reason for your existence but now, more than ever before, treat him or her like your only reason for staying in business and you will.