REAL ESTATE

Natural Grocers to hit store milestone; will open 18 stores in 2015

BY Dan Berthiaume

Scottsdale, Ariz. – Natural Grocers will hit a major milestone in its store network next month. The specialty supermarket chain will open its fifth store in Arizona on Aug. 11 — making it the company's 100th store nationwide.

The Scottsdale location is one of 18 Natural Grocers stores expected to open in fiscal year 2015.

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Tech Guest Viewpoint: Four Tips to Drive Offline Sales

BY Manish Patel

Advertisements and valuable content can bring your audience to your website, but what is driving them to your store? Even though customers are able to view and purchase items online, more than 90% of consumers are still more inclined to buy at a physical location.

Some techniques — like direct mail and business cards — are old-fashioned ways of driving your offline sales, but modern strategies are offering more advanced techniques for connecting with your consumers digitally. Keep up with your audience and build on-site relationships with these four tips.

1. Connect with mobile users.
A large percentage of your consumers are using their mobile devices even when they are already in your store. According to a Wanderful survey, 77% of clients have searched online for product information while shopping, and the growing millennial audience is particularly likely to engage in this at 85%. One way to encourage customers to visit your store is by merging the online and offline shopping experience through mobile applications. You can accomplish this by giving customers the option to quickly order items via mobile for same-day, in-store pickup. Be sure to highlight the benefits of this option, such as cutting out lengthy checkout processes and shipping costs while delivering instant, face-to-face service.

2. Listen and respond to customer reviews.
Your customers want to know what people are saying about your products and services. Sixty-three percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a site that has reviews, and visitors who read the reviews have a 6% higher average order value than those who do not. Reviews can improve things like customer confidence, SEO, and credibility.

Afraid of negative feedback? One study found that negative reviews actually boost client trust by 68% if a customer complaint is immediately rectified. By addressing customer concerns, you demonstrate listening willingness to your audience in order to improve your products and experiences. A positive review of an exceptional customer experience will motivate shoppers to visit your business in search of the same encounter.

3. Monitor your social media presence.
Another way to receive and use feedback to drive offline sales is by monitoring social media conversations regarding your brand. Show customers you are ready to answer their questions and talk about their concerns by networking through your social media platforms. Facebook and Twitter are extremely valuable channels for customer interaction because they allow you to have a one-on-one connection with your patrons.

You can also create virtual window shopping opportunities through sites like Pinterest to give your customers a sneak-peek at the items they will find in your store. Also, consider offering coupons that can be shared with friends and brought to your business for promotional items and discounts.

4. Go to the customer with geolocation services.
Soon, Google Maps will introduce similar technology to smaller companies in the space that already offer offline turn-by-turn voice direction and the exploration of local businesses for users with low connectivity. This means that being involved with location-based mobile targeting will be incredibly beneficial to your business moving forward. Only 23% of retail marketers are utilizing geo-targeting for mobile marketing, giving businesses that implement this strategy an early adopter advantage.

A successful way to get in on geolocation services is to drive offline sales through targeted mobile coupons. Become a part of location-based social media platforms like FourSquare and encourage your customers to check-in to your location. This will show the popularity of your store to locals, prompting loyal customers to continue to visit and inviting new customers to get involved.

Understanding online shopping behavior in the digital age will benefit your offline sales strategy by giving you the knowledge you need to explore new ways to connect with your clients. They value retail experiences over simple transactions, so it is time to show them you can offer more than online exchanges. These four tips will help guide your target audience to your location by keeping you updated with their search and purchase preferences.


Manish Patel is CEO of Brandify.

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J.D. Power: Lowe’s is No. 1 appliance retailer

BY CSA STAFF

Lowe's is doing all the right things when it comes to customer satisfaction, according to J.D. Power's 2015 Appliance Retailer Satisfaction Study.

The study, now in its eighth year, measures customer satisfaction with appliance retailers by examining seven factors (in order of importance): sales staff and service; store facility; price; delivery service; sales and promotions (new to the study); merchandise; and installation service. Satisfaction is measured on a 1,000-point scale.

"Price and promotions drive the sale but it's the sales staff and the service they provide that make a satisfied customer," said Christina Cooley, director of home improvement industries at J.D. Power. "Appliance retailers need to differentiate themselves beyond price. To satisfy customers, retailers must focus on delighting customers throughout the shopping, purchase, delivery and installation processes. Retailers that focus on attracting customers through pricing but further satisfying them in areas beyond price are better able to drive sales and win repeat business."

Lowe's achieves high satisfaction across the customer experience. On average, Lowe's customers who purchased an appliance on sale actually saved less than customers of other retailers; yet, Lowe's scores highest in the sales staff and service factor and has substantially higher loyalty rates than competitors. Nearly one-half (46%) of customers who purchased one or more appliances from Lowe's say they "definitely will" purchase their next appliance from the retailer, compared with the study average of 38 percent.

The study finds that sales staff and service has the greatest impact on customer satisfaction. When key services are provided by the sales staff, satisfaction is substantially higher than when they are not. The most impactful aspects of service include the availability of the sales staff to provide assistance (833 vs. 708, respectively) and their ability to greet customers promptly (847 vs. 714); listening carefully to customer questions or concerns (837 vs. 673); and thanking customers for their purchase (836 vs. 634).

More than one-fourth (28%) of customers cite price as their main reason for selecting the retailer from which they purchased their appliances. Furthermore, 64 percent of those customers indicate their decision was based on a sales price compared with the original price (17%), package price (13%) or rebate/financing/other (6%). This finding is critical in understanding customer traffic as the study shows that 40 percent of customers shop only one retailer and don't consider others.

Although sales and promotions may drive sales, it does not guarantee customer loyalty. In fact, only 38 percent of customers say they "definitely will" make their next appliance purchase at the same retailer and 42 percent say they "definitely will" recommend that retailer.

Lowe's (830) regains the highest ranking in customer satisfaction among appliance retailers and performs particularly well in all seven factors. The retailer ranked second in the 2014 study after previously ranking highest for four consecutive years.The Home Depot (817) ranks second, followed by Sears (816).Overall satisfaction with appliance retailers is 816.

The 2015 Appliance Retailer Satisfaction Study is based on responses from 2,963 customers who purchased major home appliances from a multi-regional appliance retailer within the previous 12 months. The study was fielded in January and February 2015.

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