No two shoppers who enter your store (or browse your website) are the same. Each has their own expectations about what you need to deliver and how. Each will respond differently to the way you market and the channels you use. And each will have their preferred way of buying your product, be that in-store or online.
While that can be daunting for any retailer, there is also a great opportunity in this. Understanding who your customers are – getting right down to the essence of why and how they shop – can only empower you. It also gives you a distinct advantage as this knowledge can filter into everything you do with your store layout from your assortment plans to how you merchandise your products.
However, in order to take full advantage, you need to develop strategies and ways to cater for your shoppers. That starts with building your personas.
Building your store's shopper’s personas
Your shopper personas, otherwise known as your buyer personas, are defined as semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer based on market research as well as existing customer data.
As noted in an article on Shopify, to define your shopper personas, you need “to identify the broad groups of consumers that you have” before taking this information to a granular level. This means gathering information such as where your personas live, how old they are, what their relationship status is and if they have children, even what type of job they have.
Essentially, in building your shopper’s personas, you want to have as much information as possible so that you know them as well as they know themselves, if not better. That way, you’re not only able to offer them what they want, but you can do it before they even consider they need the product or solution.
Just remember, when it comes to creating your shopper personas, they are unique to your retail store and the products that you sell. After all, your customers will expect something different from you if you’re a food retailer versus a clothing retailer or pharmacy.
However, having all this information counts for nothing if you don’t do anything with it. It’s time to dig a little deeper.
Recognise their goals, needs and motivations
Once you have your shopper personas set up and ready to go, it’s time to look at what makes your shoppers different.
A first step includes recognising their goals, needs and motivations for buying.
If you’ve decided to name your customer persona Bachelor Bob or Married Mary, you need to take everything about them into consideration. For Bachelor Bob, you’re most likely looking at a customer who might have a limited budget and wants a convenient shopping experience. For your Married Mary, she probably needs a wide variety of products and is motivated by good pricing. Ensure that you always keep them in mind whenever you do anything to your store.
Here are a few other customer personas that you’re likely to come across:
For example, take your ‘Discount Chaser’ who is always looking for a bargain. One of their goals or needs would be to find cheap deals. They also have no brand loyalty and rarely buy products at full price. They are thus motivated by the thrill of finding a bargain and having early access to deals.
What about your ‘Researcher’ shopper persona who is interested in finding out as much as possible about a product before they even consider buying it? They’d need verified customer reviews and ratings and even a Q&A section on your product pages if they’re searching online. For them, a product review by someone they admire can be a huge motivator to buy.
And the ‘Browser’, that shopper persona who windows shops more than they buy? A psychological trigger for them would be anything from an acute need to buy a product to an offer that they can’t refuse. Mind you, they aren’t always going to buy even if you have a compelling offer. After all, these are your shoppers who enjoy browsing more than actually buying your products. However, understanding their motivations will take you one step closer to making a sale.
Consider their individual frustrations
You can cater for your shopper’s needs and goals. You can also know what motivates them to buy. However, if you don’t address their frustrations, it doesn’t matter how well you know them because your customers won’t enter your store.
But what are their frustrations? Each shopper persona will be irritating by different situations.
Your Bachelor Bob, if you’re using this as a persona, might not be a big shopper and is thus frustrated by the fact that the lines in your store are so long or that you don’t have any ready-made meals on option for him. How are you going to cater for him? On the other hand, Married Mary usually visits your store with her toddlers who could be enticed by kiddies cereal at a typical toddler's eye level.
If you have a ‘High Returner’, who spends heavily but returns often, you need to be extra careful about matching their expectations. In fact, it can be argued that it’s almost impossible to live up to their expectations. RetailWire even posed the question of whether or not these shoppers should be banned. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to try and understand why they are returning the product. The right type of customer service can also help you here.
On the opposite scale are your ‘Power Shoppers’, who spend heavily and are expert shoppers. While they’re the type of shopper who visits your stores daily, they have no inspiration to try new products other than those they usually buy.
Meanwhile, for your ‘Researcher’, the main frustration would be the lack of stock of a product within your store after having done all their research. A localised assortment plan can help you here. For your ‘Browser’, it’s not finding the product they want. While it's highly likely that they might not buy a product, having the option to buy eases the frustration.
The simple act of addressing any of these frustrations head-on for each unique persona will allow your store to boast that you look after your customers. And your customers will agree.
Develop strategies specific to their journey
Once you’re figuring out what motivates your customers to buy as well as what stops them, it’s worth looking at ways in which you can target them.
For Bachelor Bob, a strategy might be to give him access to a shortened queue (10 items or less) so that he doesn’t spend more time at the store than he needs to. Married Mary, on the other hand, can be signed up to a weekly or monthly email or SMS service that informs her when the product she wants is on special in the store.
For a shopper who is price sensitive such as your ‘Discount Chaser’, for example, a good strategy would be to move their attention from the price of a product. Better yet, increase the value of a product without decreasing the price.
For your ‘Power Shopper’, what about creating a loyalty programme for them and even recommending products according to their previous purchase history? Not only will that allow you to frequently communicate with them but you can also use this to encourage them to try new products, thus adding more value to their overall shopping experience.
For your ‘Browser’, talk to them and find out why they aren’t buying your product. Is there something more your staff can do to help them make a decision? Whenever they enter your store, it would be good to provide them with that support and guidance. You can also look at increasing the value of an offer by bundling products together.
To encourage those shoppers who like to research your products, ask them to write reviews of your products. Seeing as they spend so much time investigating your products, they would be perfect to give their opinion. An added bonus is that you’ve reached out to them and shown that you value their contribution.
Understanding who your customers are and what motivates them to buy gives you a distinct advantage over your competition. Knowing them will also give you comfort in the fact that for everything you do within your store, there is sound reason and a purpose for it.