If you don’t put your shoppers first in everything you do as a store, you might as well not do business. While that seems melodramatic, there is a sound reason for it. Your customer’s needs and wants continually change and if you don’t change with them, your store becomes irrelevant.
Fortunately, there are tactics that you can implement that will help you to either turn your store into a customer-centric one or further entrench your reputation as a customer first brand.
Invest in a loyalty programme
It doesn’t matter how big or small your store is or what product or service you offer your customers. If you sell to the public, it’s worth investing in some form of loyalty programme.
Why? According to Chris Luo, VP of Marketing at FiveStars who is quoted in a Forbes article, it’s because of the power that such a system can have for your business. He says, “Loyalty programs are proven to increase customer lifetime value by up to 30% or more by increasing visit frequency, increasing spend per visit, and winning back lost customers.”
This loyalty programme can come in a variety of forms depending on your store’s goals and strategy. It could be an instant money back saving for your customers as they shop or some sort of monthly reward for shopping.
Let’s take your favourite coffee shop as an example. They can provide you with a loyalty card which they stamp each time you go there. Drink nine coffees and you get the tenth one for free. Compare that to another coffee shop which might have the same quality coffee but don’t provide you with a way of redeeming your loyalty to them.
An added bonus is that regardless of the loyalty programme you implement, in gathering this data around your customers, it’s a great opportunity to improve every aspect of your business.
Focus on the value your products provide
Finding the right price for your products can be a tricky. In fact, it can be argued that it’s harder to find the perfect price point than it is to choose what products to offer. But it doesn’t have to be.
We’ve already written about how retail analytics can help you achieve the best price point. In this instance, when it comes to considering pricing that puts your shoppers first, you need to see it from their point of view.
One way of adding value would be to offer superior in-store advice. For example, if you sell trail running shoes and a customer comes into your store looking to buy a pair, you can provide them with such comprehensive advice that they won’t think twice before coming back to you for their next pair, even if the price is better online.
In shifting your customers’ perspectives of your products, you’re essentially showing them there is a really good reason why your products are priced so, without actually alluding to how expensive they are.
Your price now isn’t as big of a sales barrier as it might have been before you started focusing on the value that it can provide.
Of course, you can’t expect to overprice your products and expect your customers not to see past that. In that case, you must be able to provide them with a very good reason to buy your products. After all, this is about putting your customers first.
Provide experiences that will bring your customers back
The longer your customers stay in your store, the more likely they are to spend. Of course, it depends on what they do while there. After all, a shopper may spend an hour in your store but that might be because they can’t find what they’re looking for rather than them spending money.
However, if you provide them with an experience that will keep them in your store, that is a different story.
Woolworths is a good example here. In the past, you’d have categorised them as a department store where you bought clothes and occasionally homeware. They’ve since evolved into much more and are now rivaling your established coffee shops and food retailers. Today, you don’t go there just to shop but rather to spend your time. And you do so willingly.
This is the power of providing your shoppers with an experience so that they’ll keep coming back.
There is also room for expanding these experiences to small events or shows within your store should the space allow it. A book store such as Exclusive Books does this well by hosting various book launches where customers can listen to and talk to their favourite authors. Meanwhile, you have them browsing your store and buying more.
A fashion show, either in your store or in front of the store if you’re in a mall, can also be an experience that will have people talking and viewing your store as more than just a shop that provides products.
Experience your store as a customer
While it’s all good and well to provide your customer with a great in-store experience, and one that will get them to return, there will always be some aspects of your store that they may not enjoy.
Besides asking your customers for feedback to help you identify what’s wrong, a point we made in a previous article around next-level customer service, there is another tactic that you can use: act as a customer in your own store.
Not quite unlike your mystery shopper scenario, where you employ people to come in to judge your store on customer service, product assortment, and store layout among other aspects, this can give you a first-hand experience. And that experience should never be taken too lightly.
There is even an Emmy Award-winning TV show about it – Undercover Boss, which shows just how powerful an exercise this can be for your business. By experiencing your business from the other side, you are forced to engage with aspects that you either might not know about or are trying to hide from.
While it might not be pleasant seeing any faults within your store, your customers will ultimately thank you for it, which means you’ll be thankful you did it.
If you want to survive in today’s retail environment, there is no way around the fact that you need to be customer-centric. And it needs to filter into every aspect of your retail business. Fail to do so and you can’t have any complaints when your customers decide to move to your competitor.