10 Nov The Competitive Advantage of a Good In-store Experience
Kristin MacMillan – President at Imprint Plus
With the on-going news around a challenging retail market in the US we, Imprint Plus, conducted a random survey of 1,000 men and women across the country to see what shoppers prefer. Among many other interesting insights the results showed that shoppers were broken down into 3 groups. One that preferred to shop in store, one that preferred to shop online and the final one who use a combination of both. A true showcase of changing and unique preferences in customer behaviour when shopping. Retailers globally are looking at their in-store experience in new and innovative ways every day. Getting a customer’s time in person has never been so important to get right as a competitive advantage.
A recent article in The Economist on “brick and mortar retailers fight back” outlined that 70% of retailers are training their staff to be more knowledgeable with 58% of them are training their staff to focus on customer service.
Walmart on the other hand has made Grocer Shopping Personal. Walmart has figured out how to link its e-commerce business to its brick and mortar stores and provide greater customer service and hassle-free shopping without walking through big box spaces, loading shopping carts and waiting on long lines to check out. Walmart customers can now shop at various locations without ever entering the store. Each day, customers select their groceries online, while workers fill up shopping carts and have the paid for orders ready for pick up in the parking lot at a designated time slot. Walmart is currently the largest food retailer in the U.S., and figured out how grocery pickup and online ordering gets customers to its brick and mortar locations and utilizes its employees in way that offers greater and more personalized service. Retailers have been figuring out ways to get groceries into customers’ homes – particularly in big cities. But Walmart is luring the business of millions of Americans in suburban and rural areas who drive everywhere and so have no problem with picking up their groceries en route to their homes.
With customer needs to save time and get value for the time they take ensuring that your team have the tools they need to give your customers the best experience has never been more important.
Our recent survey showed that more than half of the consumers surveyed said it was important to establish a personal relationship with a sales associate whether online or in-store. Asked if having a personal relationship with a store sales associates would lead to more shopping in that store, nearly 50% of those surveyed responded “yes.” A name badge stating a sales associate’s name, title and area of expertise is an introduction to the customer, one that the survey clearly establishes as a pathway to developing better customer relations with the retailer, as well as generating more sales and frequent visits.
“Today’s consumers want personalized experiences when shopping and retailers need to blend technology and service to meet their needs,” continues Ms. MacMillan. “A simple add on may be the ability to select clothes online and reserve a dressing room – saving time and creating a new shopping experience.”
“Consumers are pressed for time and would be more willing to shop in brick and mortar stores if they could shop more efficiently in less time,” adds Ms. MacMillan. “A focus on customer service would help the consumer navigate through long wait times and merchandise selection. The use of technology and retailer apps can play a role in streamlining the process of merchandise selection and check out.”