In the retail environment, to say that repeat customers are important is something of an understatement. According to one recent study, an incredible 61 percent of small to medium-sized businesses in particular say that more than half of their total revenue comes from repeat customers. This is due in large part to the fact that, on average, repeat customers are worth as much as ten times more than single or “one and done” buyers in terms of purchase value alone. Likewise, the reverse of this concept is also true. Most studies estimate that it can cost as much as five times more to attract a new customer than it does to simply retain an existing one.
But acknowledging that repeat customers are important is one thing – actually catering to and supporting these people so that you can keep them coming back for more is something else entirely. To accomplish this, you’ll need a lot more than just great products and services – most people can get those anywhere. Instead, you’ll need to offer them a quality, memorable retail customer experience. THAT is the thing that they won’t find anywhere else and it’s also the biggest asset you currently have.
Improving the Retail Customer Experience: Cutting Away the Fluff
The reason why more and more people are shopping online these days doesn’t have as much to do with price as you might initially think. Yes, online retailers can often offer products similar to yours at cheaper prices because of lower overhead costs, but this is only one small part of a much larger story.
The real reason people are flocking to online retail sites is because they’re incredibly fast and convenient. If you want to truly enhance your in-store retail customer experience, that’s exactly what you need to be focusing on as well.
Many retailers are turning to technology to make the in-store experience as convenient, as extensive and as streamlined as humanly possible. One Best Buy store in midtown Manhattan has a robotic selling machine with more than 15,000 individual items, allowing people to make a purchase without ever interacting with a human salesperson – even after the store is closed. Sensors provide supplementary information to consumers about certain products and can even help direct them around the store.
For a truly exceptional in-store experience, you need to make sure as little as possible stands in the way between your customer and their desired purchase.
The Return of “Event Shopping”
One retailer that has gotten exceptionally good at creating memorable in-store experiences is Apple. People spend huge amounts of time in an Apple Store not just because of the reputation of their products, but because they can try out literally everything – from smartphones to tablets to computers that cost thousands of dollars – and spend as much time with them as possible.
This turns the idea of shopping into an event – something people look forward to and are willing to travel for. Complementing this are Apple’s trained staff, who are always friendly and eager to help and who are literally trained to empathize with customers to make sure they’re more emotionally satisfied when they leave than they were when they arrived.
Look for ways to turn your own in-store experience into an event, as this is something that cannot be replicated on the internet.
The In-Store Experience Begins and Ends with People
Finally, to truly enhance your in-store retail customer experience you need to shift your focus away from the products and services you’re trying to sell and more on the people who are trying to sell them. This means making customer service your most important priority, if it isn’t already.
Consider that according to one estimate, companies in the United States lose an estimated $41 million every year because of poor customer service. Even if a poor experience doesn’t cause someone to leave and make their purchase elsewhere, it will certainly stop them from coming back for a second sale – something you can’t afford.
Train your employees to truly relate to your customers – to see the experience from their perspective. Your customers are more than just line items on a balance sheet and your employees need to understand this. Their primary focus should not be on selling, but helping. Every customer who walks into your store is ultimately there because they have not only a need they’re trying to meet, but also a problem they’re trying to solve. Making a purchase just happens to be the best way to do exactly that.
Rest assured that if the customer service experience is exceptional when someone makes their first impression of your brand, they WILL be back for more.