“Customers remember the experience a lot longer than they remember the product and the price.”- Lauren Freedman.
It’s true that retailers all over the world are reeling under the shadow of Amazon. Most of them feel Amazon is suffocating them with its ridiculously low prices and convenience of shopping. The result, as we know, has made Amazon the undisputed ruler of the retail world( e-commerce in particular). If you plan on competing with Amazon head-on, then you’re in for a tough time… Unless you know where Amazon’s weakness is and you exploit it to your advantage. How? (Hint: improve customer experience in your retail store)
Why improve customer experience in your retail store?
It’s evident by now that if you lower prices to match that of Amazon’s, then you are on the fastest route to bankruptcy. There is also very little you can do in the ease-of-shopping department. Amazon allows its customers to order items from the comfort of their couch and get it delivered to their doorstep. What’s more, Amazon does this with ease- something you’ll find hard to do. So how do win? Your best bet is to offer something that even Amazon can’t(at least for now)- A remarkable in-store shopping experience.
Despite the growing concerns of retailers that the rise of e-commerce will jeopardize business in physical stores, surveys have revealed a pleasant surprise. According to one study, 85% of customers prefer to shop in physical stores rather than online. Forbes claims that physical stores are the future of retail and not e-commerce. The reason being, retail outlets can offer a fantastic shopping experience, unlike Amazon.
To help you do just that, we’ve put together 8 ways you can improve customer experience in your retail store. Let’s get in!
8 ways to improve customer experience in retail stores
1. Start with an audit of your store
Without real feedback, you can never be too sure how your customers feel about your store. Send in a test group of shoppers and ask them for feedback relating to:
- The layout of the store- was it easy for them to move around and find what they wanted?
- The attitude of the staff- were the staff friendly and attentive?
- Availability of products- Was the product they wanted in-stock?
- Checkout process- Did the checkout process take too long or was it tiring?
These are the most essential factors that influence and, if optimized, improve customer experience, so it is crucial to nail them. Make use of the feedback to understand possible areas of improvement. If the staff were not professional, then they need proper training. Did the customer find too many obstacles in his path, then the layout needs to be tweaked. If the checkout process was too long, you need to think of a way to reduce it.
A few minor changes help a lot to improve customer experience in your retail store and make it a more memorable for customers.
2. Motivate and train your staff
The sales staff are your frontline soldiers. They are the face of your business that customers interact with face-face. Adequately trained and well-motivated staff are one of the most important factors that can improve customer experience in your retail store.
Studies have shown that feelings are contagious and there is no denying that fact. A staff who is courteous, smiling and happy will naturally transfer some of his positive vibes to customers entering the store. And happy customers are always willing to buy more.
The opposite is true for staff who are irritable and unhappy. They similarly affect the customer and his/her mood in a negative way. As a result, the customer will associate your store with feelings of negativity.
To avoid situations like this, your staff need to be appropriately trained to engage with customers positively. The values of a warm greeting and a genuine concern for the customer’s shopping experience should be imbibed.
3. Delight customers with a rewards program
It’s no surprise that humans are motivated by rewards. Use that to delight your customers and keep them coming back to your store.
Gamify their shopping experience by giving them points for every purchase or, if you want to go crazy, have a leveling based rewards system( where they get their secret reward when they reach the next level by accumulating enough points to “level up”).
Or you can organize real games inside your store(if it’s big enough to accommodate one). Throw in an exclusive offer as a reward for the winners to incentivize them to take part in the games. Customers love this sort of interaction with stores. Rather than just coming to buy stuff, they can now actually have fun at the same time. Don’t forget, they remember the experience a lot longer than they remember the products and price.
Provide them with a unique enough experience, and they’ll even become a free source of marketing. How? Because they are going to share their experience with their friends and family who’ll probably become your next set of customers.
4. Enable easy returns and repairs
You need to accept the fact that not all your items are going to be in perfect condition. Therefore, there is always a chance that your customer got one of the damaged products. And, one thing that utterly spoils a customer’s experience is getting a damaged product and not being able to return it!
To avoid this and improve customer experience, enable an easy returns and repairs policy for your customers. Assure them that you’ll do your best to replace damaged items at no extra cost. Go the extra mile, and your customers will reward you with their loyalty.
Of course, there will always be those who might try to take advantage of your returns policy and cheat you. Sometimes they get away with it, but most times, they are fairly easy to spot.
Anyway, the benefits far outweigh the risks involved, so I suggest it’s a good idea to implement in any store. That’s because it keeps your customers happy, builds trust, and attracts them back to your retail store.
5. Accelerate the checkout process
The reason why Amazon and other online shopping sites are popular is due, in part, to their ridiculously easy checkout processes. There are no long queues for the customer to wait in. Instead, they can check out in a jiffy.
If you can do the same for your retail store, then you’ll be a big hit among your customers. Have multiple checkout lines, as many as possible, to reduce the waiting time for shoppers.
Or, if you’re a tech-savvy retailer, try using mobile billing systems. Have your staff carry them around the store and instantly help customers make a purchase. Not only does this solve the checkout process it also impresses your customers to see you using advanced software.
Another innovation in retail technology is self-checkout applications- another great way to improve customer experience. These apps don’t reduce checkout times. Instead, they completely eliminate it!!. All your customer needs is a mobile phone with the self-checkout app. He/she just scans the barcode on the product and voila! Their purchase is made!
Speaking about innovative technology in retail, take a look at CASA’s retail marketing and customer engagement software. Increase custome acquisition and retention by sending personalized messages and offers, that convert, with CASA
6. Form a community around your store
If you have a retail store based on a niche, you’ll no doubt have customers who are more or less like-minded. Use that to your advantage and form an interesting community of like-minded individuals. Members of a community often tend to form special bonds with the other members as well as the community itself(in this case, your store). Thus, you’ll be able to establish long-lasting relationships with your customers which ultimately benefits both of you.
For example, If you operate a retail store selling video games, gaming consoles, etc, you can form a community of gamers(who will be your most obvious customers) and even organize gaming events or gaming cosplay events.
Or, if you sell adventure equipment like camping tents, trekking shoes etc, you can organize adventurous trekking tours for your community members. Your customers will probably be those who are interested in such activities and would gladly join your community.
7. Provide Retailtainment instead of just Retail
The word “Retailtainment” has been growing ever more popular this past couple of years. The concept evolved as a desperate move of retailers to compete with the likes of Amazon for market share. The word coins “retail” and “entertainment” to offer retailtainment.
The concept is simple- you can’t compete with Amazon on price. Therefore, you have to compete and crush them with your superior in-store experience. A store which is just for shopping is not going to survive long because Amazon provides just that in a much better and more convenient manner.
No, you have to do something Amazon can’t. Let your customers have fun. Organize parties and celebrity events like autograph signings, movie or book launch programs etc. Such events attract a lot of eyeballs and foot traffic to your store and also provide an enjoyable experience.
Because, let’s face it, who doesn’t love to see their favorite movie star up close? Provide more than just a shopping experience to your customers. Provide a retailtainment experience!
8. Loyalty benefits
Show your most loyal customers extra care and make their shopping experience much more special. For example, imagine one of your regular customers is in-store and realizes he hasn’t brought his loyalty coupon to claim discounts. Now is your chance to make them feel special by giving them the loyalty discount even without the coupon.
You can also send them personalized offers via email or text to let them know of special in-store discounts. If you know today’s your customers birthday, have a small celebration inside the store to make their special day even more special. Little things like this can leave a lasting impression and can improve customer experience a lot. These can also be a way of re-activating or re-engaging dormant customers and reminding them why they love your store.
Suggested read: For more ways to engage customers, read 10 Customer engagement channels that retailers MUST use
Physical retail is not in any grave danger. Those who think otherwise, are the ones who aren’t ready or willing to change with the times. But at the same time, you can’t ignore the challenges that e-commerce brings to the retail world. To compete with the likes of Amazon and other online websites, you need to spruce things up in your store. Provide your customers with an experience they won’t likely forget and you might just win the battle with e-commerce.
To wrap up, improve customer experience in your retail store by:
- Conducting an audit to figure out what’s going wrong and make necessary changes.
- Training your staff to engage well with customers and spread positivity and cheerfulness. The staff must be genuinely helpful and must care for the customer’s experience like his own.
- Gamifying the shopping experience by introducing a rewards program. It makes customers more involved with your store and thus can improve customer experience.
- Offering your customers an easy returns policy and making them feel safe while shopping.
- Reducing the checkout time for your customers by employing more staff or by using innovative technology.
- Forming a community around your store. It’s easier to form long-lasting relationships with a community of like-minded people and allows you to engage the community as a whole by conducting events.
- Retailtainment is the new retail! Do something different to ensure your customers enjoy their experience in your store. Conduct events to keep them entertained and improve customer experience.
Try CASA’s retail marketing software
CASA is a retail marketing and customer engagement software that can help you acquire new customers and retain existing ones by sending personalized campaigns. Sign up for free to find out how CASA can help your store.
If you’d like to see a demo of CASA, please fill in the form below and we’ll get in touch.