Retail, as an industry, has seen drastic changes in the past decade. The advent of ecommerce and the ever-changing buying pattern of customers have led to retail transformation. Brick-and-mortar retail stores need to re-shape their marketing strategies with time to lure attract (and retain) more customers. With the use of technology like retail POS software, retail stores have stepped up to challenges and succeeded in offering outstanding customer experiences.
A key aspect of retail is the customer experience. Retail stores have to ensure exceptionally good experience for customers repeatability. However, a number of factors like long checkout queues, expired/ faulty products and unhelpful staff can sour the customer experience.
Such loopholes in customer service can severely impact customer repeatability and lead to the negative word-of-mouth publicity. To quote Mark Anthony from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar,
“The evil that men do lives after them
The good is oft interred with their bones”
Such is the case with customer service. A series of good experiences cannot make up for one bad incidence witnessed by a customer. Which means, every experience for a customer has to be a good one for a retail business to sustain.
So, what can retail outlets do to make their customer service better?
Ensure Faster Queue Clearance
Long queues during checkout is a major deterrent to customer satisfaction. Because of time-constraints, customers avoid standing in a long queue and look for alternatives. To attract customers, retail outlets should train their staff for faster checkout. Also, the staff should encourage customers for cashless transactions to ensure faster and hassle-free billing. If your store doesn’t have a good retail POS software in place for cashless transactions, BondPOS is a useful tool. It is a trusted retail POS software which ensures centralized billing with debit card management and Paytm integration.
Additionally, try creating separate isles that can help dispense the crowd at the billing desk. For example, certain retail outlets have express checkout booths. These booths are meant for people who are purchasing less than ten to fifteen items. Spar, a retail chain, has a separate isle for senior citizens, which helps the elderly shop for different products and pay for them conveniently, away from all the chaos.
Maintain A Well-Designed Inventory
The way products are arranged and displayed is a crucial part of any retail store. When a customer walks in to the store, he/she should be able to navigate the flow in which the shelves are stacked. Items on a shelf should be just as accessible as one’s closet. The average closet contains daily wear items at arm’s length while party wear outfits are stacked in the back. In a similar way, items that are more likely to be demanded by customers should be available at the front of the inventory rack while items that are used by a smaller number of people should be stacked towards the top of the shelf.
Always Be at Your Customers’ Service
The staff at any retail store should be trained to approach customers subtly, even if they haven’t asked for help. The expert advice of staff can help in improving the shopping experience of customers. Most customers have to run from shelf to shelf, looking for certain products. That hassle can be resolved if the staff comes forward for help even without being asked.
Additionally, the staff should also be trained to help customers make better selection. A customer, looking for a product, might not have the knowledge of other similar products for whatever reason. If a staff helps by suggesting a different but better product, it will certainly leave a positive impression. A customer remembers this kind of personalised shopping experience which leads to repeatability and new customers through good word-of-mouth.
Provide the Retailtainment Experience
As the name implies, retailtainment is the action of clubbing the strategy of retail marketing with entertainment. It proves to be a great way to ensure a pleasant shopping experience for customers. A good example would be of electronics stores where customers can watch and enjoy a virtual reality (VR) or a 3D video or game.
Retailtainment allows customers to have fun while shopping, which helps in fostering the positive relationship with the retail brand. Depending on scale, strategize the kind of retailtainment your store can provide. Keep a clear focus about the purpose of retailtainment. In the example above, electronic stores are not only keeping customers entertained but are also facilitating the buying decision of people for VR and 3D optimised products.
Design a Quick & Easy Feedback Process
A lot of retail stores hand out feedback questionnaire at the exit gate and expect customers to fill them. However, people are often short on time. It’s unlikely that all the customers will spare some time from their busy schedule to fill a long feedback form. Instead, develop a simple feedback process. Take for instance Decathlon India. It has an easy feedback system where at the end of a purchase, a customer is asked to click on an emoticon (a happy face, an emotionless face and a sad face) that describes his/her shopping experience. As this feedback system allows customers to share their shopping experience right on the spot, it has proved to be quite effective.
A simple feedback system like this solves two purposes. Firstly, it is an assured way to get more feedback from customers; and secondly, it shows customers you care for their opinion.
The bottom line is that the consistent good response from customers can help any business grow. Be it more sales, repeatability of customers or good word-of-mouth, the impact of a happy customer on a business is undeniable.
That’s why, a retail business has to be ready for any issues that might plague customers. They have to stay on guard and give customers a great shopping experience.