Seven Ways Retailers Can Keep Customers Coming Back
By Sherry Orel, [email protected]
Retail today is supposed to be all about the experience. After all, it’s so easy to shop online. And yet so many retailers could be providing a much richer customer experience if they only made a few simple changes that meet customers needs and expectations.
Retailers are losing customers’ attentions because shopping online is so darn easy and, according to the Seamless Retail Study by Accenture, 89% of consumers want retailers to let them shop where they consider most convenient, whether that’s in-store, mobile, or online. Because in-store experience doesn’t come close to the ease of online, retailers may be losing out.
Convenience is key. What if you could walk through a department store and scan the labels of everything you want to try on, from shoes to shirts to jewelry? Then, you receive a text that says everything is waiting for you in dressing room number nine? Or what if you skipped the dressing room and scanned and checked out from your smart phone and everything was shipped to your house overnight?
Since customers say they’ll buy where it makes the most sense for them, they’re always one-click away from your competition. That means that whether you’re a value store or a luxury retailer, delightful or surprising experiences (or both) will keep your customers coming back and brand-loyal.
Here are seven ways retailers can keep customers’ attention and loyalty, using some new tech tools and rethinking some old, tried-and-true processes:
1. Training, training, training
This seems simple and obvious, but too often salespeople are not educated about the brands they sell, even though it’s easier than ever to teach them the ropes with online training programs. Test often, then get on the floor, and be your best “secret shopper.” Salespeople are your brand ambassadors — the one thing that isn’t as easy to mimic online. Make sure they know what they’re talking about.
2. Make upsells easy
This is where online beats in-store, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Replicate “customers who bought this also bought this” recommendation engine in-store. If your customer needs the perfect dress for a special event, chances are she’s open to matching shoes, jewelry or eye shadow. You can train your staff to suggest these pairings, but typically only your top sales clerks consistently go this extra mile. Consider adding QR codes to every item in your store that suggest pairings. Your customer can select the items she wants to try on, scan a QR code in her dressing room and text the request to sales clerks on the floor to alert them exactly what to bring to which customer in which dressing room.
3. Keep cool but not too hot
My least favorite part of holiday shopping is sweating in the department store. While all the store staff is comfortable in their short sleeve shirts, customers who come in from the cold are either baking, struggling to hold their coats while they shop, or must trek to a coat check buried on the 9th floor. Anticipate their needs by adjusting the temperature based on what your customers are wearing. Put a coat-check near the entrance. Or, if you need to keep your environment chilly, follow the example of Fairway on NYC’s Upper West Side, offer jackets to customers to wear near the freezer section of the supermarket. Don’t have customers, excited and eager to shop, leave frustrated because they’re sweating or covered with goose bumps.
4. Frictionless checkout
Today’s customer wants an in-and-out experience without waiting in line. Remember, your customers know how easy it is to check out online. Take a lesson from Apple, and let your customers buy in the aisle. Give them the option of adding a ship-to address, and deliver within a few days. Sell your customer on the convenience of having items shipped wherever he needs. Customer A, for example, wants it shipped to his cousin in Phoenix while customer B wants it shipped to the Delano Hotel in Miami. Why? That’s where she’ll be this weekend.
5. Be super-convenient within your larger store
Cater to the shopper in-a-hurry. Consider this: A single dad has the kids this weekend and has items to pick up on his way home from work. He needs bread, lunch meat, milk, cereal, chips and soda. That’s six aisles in a typical grocery store, and the reason to skip Kroger and head to 7-Eleven. Make his life easier by offering a quick-pick department that has one brand of each of the essentials and a self-checkout option.
6. Win in one category, even if you are a multi-category chain
When I was pregnant, I walked into Wal-Mart’s baby department, then promptly walked OUT of Wal-Mart’s baby department and drove to The Land of Nod. Being so uneducated, I was overwhelmed, so I was willing to pay a premium for the hands-on support at a specialty store. Consider supporting one key department a little more than others. Target is doing this with their Beauty Concierge team of cross-category experts trained to assist guests in all things beauty. And certain markets lend themselves to special services. Stores in retirement communities could earn loyalty from aging customers who require more help, from reaching items on high shelves, to helping them remember essentials. Retailers in communities with young families could anticipate the needs mom has while shopping with children in tow.
7. Offer the same deals both offline and online
Consider how you can provide continuity across the online and offline experiences. According to the Seamless Retail Study by Accenture, 61% of shoppers expect retailers to offer the same promotions both online and offline. Likewise, 73% expect stores to offer the same prices (regardless of sales) online and offline, despite recent news that suggests that algorithms serve up different prices on the same items to different shoppers. Understanding that it’s much easier to change prices on-line than in-store, offer a price-match option. This will encourage consumers to shop both on-line and in-store at the same time.
Keeping your customer engaged while in-store is imperative in a market where there are so many distractions and your customer can shop the competition from your dressing rooms, sales floor and aisles. Give them a reason to love you by delighting them in unexpected ways, using technology and on-site amenities, and you’ll have them coming back for more – both in-store and online.
Sherry Orel is CEO of Brand Connections (brandconnections.com) is an independent global media and marketing company that specializes in “Making Marketing Easier for Marketers.” The company reaches consumers when they pursue their lifestyle passions, motivating them to engage with and share brand experiences, and provides tailored solutions that link critical marketing disciplines to help marketers connect the dots to deliver a better business outcome. She can be reached at [email protected].
High volume and product mix spice up McCormick’s Q2
SPARKS, Md. — McCormick & Company reported sales and profit results for the second quarter ended May 31, at which time the company completed its acquisition of Wuhan Asia Pacific Condiments, a leading bouillon manufacturer in central China.
McCormick’s second quarter sales rose 2% to $1 billion from $984 million, and in local currency the increase was 3% when compared to the year-ago period. Higher volume and product mix for the consumer business drove much of this increase, and was the result of product innovation, effective brand marketing support and distribution gains.
Net sales for industrial business declined 1% to $411.6 million from $415.2 million in the year-ago period, and in local currency rose slightly from the year-ago period, due largely to lower demand from quick service restaurants in the Americas and in China. The company anticipates that sales and profit pressure on the industrial business will continue into the third quarter and then improve in the fourth quarter of 2013.
"In the second quarter of 2013, we grew sales for our consumer business 5% in local currency, led by product innovation, brand marketing support and distribution gains,” said chairman, president and CEO Alan D. Wilson. “We are getting good returns on our investments to grow this business and we plan to increase our investment in marketing support approximately $15 million in the second half of the year. Our industrial business grew sales to food manufacturers and food service distributors in the second quarter. While we had lower demand from quick service restaurants in North America and China, we expect this situation to improve in the fourth quarter based on our new product pipeline and latest outlook.
The integration of WAPC, the company’s first acquisition in China, is well underway and McCormick expects business to increase sales in the market by approximately 60%.
Brick-and-mortar sales soar in spring
San Jose – Brick-and-mortar retail sales soared during this past spring, according to new metrics from RetailNext. Using its in-store analytics platform to collect metrics on millions of shopping trips to department stores and specialty retailers nationwide, RetailNext studied and released its analysis of traffic, conversion, sales, and average transaction values (ATV) for the spring season, including the four holidays of Easter, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and Father’s Day, as well as the days leading up to Father’s Day and Easter Sunday.
Following is a summary of the findings:
Easter Week (3/24 – 3/30): The week preceding Easter saw more traffic than a typical week’s pattern, peaking on Friday, March 29, when shopper traffic hit a 47% increase compared to a typical Friday. Easter Sunday itself saw sharp declines in traffic and sales (off 29% and 8%, respectively).
Week of Mother’s Day (5/5 – 5/11): Sales lifted sharply on Thursday through Saturday prior to Mother’s Day, as compared to a typical week. For these three days, sales were up an average of 14% from ordinary levels, suggesting that shoppers were focused on last-minute Mother’s Day purchases.
Week of Memorial Day (5/26 – 6/1): Memorial Day itself saw a 73% increase in traffic and a 59% increase in sales from a typical Monday. However, traffic on the following Saturday dropped 16%, compared to an average Saturday as shoppers chose non-shopping activities coming off the heavy retail period. RetailNext says this finding reveals the opportunity for retailers to shift non-essential activities away from the “must-win” days of Memorial Day weekend to the softer shopping weekend immediately to follow.
Week of Father’s Day (6/9 – 6/15): The week leading up to Father’s Day saw significant lift in traffic, conversion, and sales, peaking on Friday with a 32% sales increase from a typical Friday. This sustained surge in sales indicates a clear mission among shoppers seeking Father’s Day gifts. RetailNext advises retailers should note this trend in future years and create plans to capitalize fully on these highly motivated shoppers.
“The two drivers for changing shopping patterns around holidays this spring were gift giving and special events that changed when consumers hit the stores,” said Chitra Balasubramanian, VP of Insights, RetailNext. “The increased activity leading up to both Mother’s and Father’s Day represents a genuine boost to retailers, although as with previous studies we’ve seen those seeking gifts for women tend to shop later than those seeking gifts for men. If you attribute much of this uplift to people shopping for their spouses, one possible explanation is that men have a greater tendency than women to delay gift shopping until right before the holiday.”