Start doing research on what the customer is looking for in 2015 and most research reports state that the market is being split into two. Consumers are either going for price and leaning towards online shopping or they are visiting a store for an experience.
Bricks retailers need to provide an experience if they are to develop their business we are being told. Conference speakers, including myself, are promoting the fact that “bricks” retailers need to create an experience for the consumer.
The challenge is what is the experience that consumers are looking for and how is this developed in a business. Retailers who believe they are introducing an “experience” as a business strategy, in my view, are getting it wrong. The consumer experience is not a strategy, it is the result of 100’s of things that happen to the consumer when engaged with the business, being correct, in the consumers mind.
Build an Experience for your Customers
The challenge is not what you or I think is a great experience, that may not be a great experience for someone else, we are all different and have different likes and dislikes, often these perceptions are based on age, nationality and status. You will not get it right for everyone, and you should not, but the team do need to be empowered to be flexible in the way they provide the consumer experience.
Six Experience Building Business Practices
One: Retail is Details
Consumers shop with their eyes and make decisions based on what they see. If the view puts a smile on their face then they are more likely to have a positive, memorable experience. Visual retail attention can be divided into hygiene standards, merchandising standards and display standards.
A team member should walk the store every day before the door is opened and check the hygiene standards. That starts at the front door and includes toilets and checkout area. A dirty door handle could be the one factor that tips the customer into a negative experience.
Shelves should be full and shelf talkers in the correct position, otherwise customer frustration could occur.
Displays should be theatrical and memorable, this is where the retailer can really shine compared to competitors.
Two: Recognise People as Individuals
We are all individuals and want to be treated that way. Compare the consumers thinking attitude to a retail experience between a team member who says “Hi, my name is John, How are you today?” or engages the consumer in other ways with a sales person who processes the customer and starts with “Can I help you?”
Engaged consumers are more likely to have a positive experience in-store.
Three: Remember Personal Details
The true experience starts for a consumer when the sales team member remembers personal details. My local electrical supply store did this exceptionally well. I purchased a TV from them, six months later I walked in for another item and the salesperson started the conversation by asking how I liked the TV and was I happy with it. He had no records in front of him to check, he was brilliant at personalisation.
Four: Introduce Retail Etiquette
Etiquette is “common sense,” or so we are told. In fact it is “rare sense.”
Retail etiquette is what we should be doing as “common sense” as good citizens. It includes holding the door open for a customer, loading a car if the items are heavy, helping the less abled, assisting with carrying items and so on. Many retailers think this happens automatically as it is “common sense.” I would argue you need a “rare sense” policy on retail etiquette alas it is not common.
Five: Appreciation Marketing
The customers relationship with the store and the product does not finish when the consumer walks out of the door. One could argue that for the customer it is only just starting. Depending on the amount spent and the type of product, now is the time to introduce “Appreciation Marketing.” This could be in the form of an email, phone call or even an old fashioned letter. If consumers feel they are appreciated and remembered they are more likely to look on the in-store experience in a positive way.
Six: Delight Strategy
I was introduced to this strategy a long time ago. Delight = Expectation + 1. It is one of the simplest rules of retailing, yet not implemented as often as it should be. It means sales teams need to be empowered to be able to delight the consumer by introducing something that is low cost to the retail business and high value to the consumer. I have often used the example of the travel agent that gifts in trolley tokens for luggage trolleys at a overseas airport when you often do not have change when you land.
Get all the small parts of the strategy in place and the result may be that the consumer has a positive experience, the rewards is they then become an ambassador for the business and start marketing your business for you. Peer to peer marketing is the best marketing you can have.