Please don’t be one of those people who bury their head in the sand and say, “Sure the internet and all that are changing a lot, but that doesn’t affect MY business.” I seriously can’t type that sentence without laughing. Come on now, I’m not laughing AT you because you’re laughing too, right? Okay, just stay with me here.
A Retail Strategy
You may or may not be aware that I recently purchased half of a really incredible store: one component of that store is RETAIL. Our store is truly exceptional because it’s filled with great human beings who already know that the customer service experience is absolutely the MOST IMPORTANT part of the business. As you read these recommendations, know that you are getting a peek into our actual strategic plan for the years to come, so we are all doing this together!
Trends in Shopping Behaviour
Shopping behaviour is changing dramatically because of the internet and new technology. I want us to be ready!
- 86% of people check online reviews before buying.1
- 63% of shopping begins online.2
- 50% of shoppers shop more on mobile than they do in-store.2
- 62% of buyers shop online at least once a month.2
- 57% of shoppers buy fashion/apparel online, making this the most online-shopped category. However, no category is safe—almost everything can be sold online now.2
- A lot of products are going to be instantly reordered when they’ve run low. Our phones will become the only thing we need to buy things, have them delivered, and enjoy almost anything in the world.
- There are companies already using AI (Artificial Intelligence), VR (Virtual Reality), and haptography (sensory recordings) in order to have online shoppers “try things on.” I know it’s crazy, but it’s coming, and in a lot of places it’s already here.
- 96% of consumers say customer service is imperative in their loyalty to a brand.3
- 84% of companies who work on their customer service report an increase in sales.3
- Brands with superior customer service bring in 5.7 times more revenue than brands who lag behind. 5.7 TIMES!!3
Will It Affect Your Business? Yup.
Now instead of saying, “This doesn’t affect my business” (because it will) or, “This doesn’t affect my industry” (because it will), I recommend you read this and make a contingency plan just in case.
Our Game Plan
Here is what we’re going to do:
- We’re going to DOUBLE DOWN on exceptional customer service. This means you do NOT hire anyone who doesn’t believe that the customer is always right. You do NOT allow your staff to be on their cell phones or otherwise distracted while they’re supposed to be helping customers, and you TRAIN, TRAIN and RETRAIN on the customer service procedures you have in place. Having very clear policies and procedures is a must—be a kind and inspiring leader, and use those tools (job descriptions, KPIs, policies and procedures) to enforce and uphold the standard that you want (and need) to stay relevant. You’ve got to have a HAPPY staff to produce these kinds of results, so make sure you’re the kind of leader that makes your team feel safe, appreciated, cared about, and engaged. That kind of team takes great care of your customers—which I mentioned was NOT OPTIONAL anymore, right?
- We are going to be constantly asking for feedback to improve the customer experience. When we ring people through our till, we should be getting their emails. These emails can be used to send a short survey asking for feedback on how we could have done things better. You could also do a very quick survey as you’re checking people out and make notes on it, compiling the very important data to analyze later.
- After providing an exceptional customer experience, we are going to ask every single happy customer for a Google review with comments. You can even include this in Step 2, but only with the happy ones! The unhappy ones need to give us detailed feedback so that we can improve. You can use survey logic to have the review request triggered only if they answered “happy” to your previous questions. Google forms is really great for this! And it’s free!
- We’re going to offer a convenient online option for sales, and it’s going to be super-mobile friendly. People shop on their phones—make it as easy as possible! People should be able to buy from their phones with a few clicks. You could also have self-checkout stands in store. You could even simply have iPads available. Just make it as fast and easy as possible for people to buy what they want. Heck, they could even buy from their mobile phone while sitting on the comfy couch in your store!
- We’re going to offer delivery as fast as possible, or pick up in-store—to compete with Amazon drones and the other services out there delivering at seemingly impossible rates. If they can come in and have an AMAZING customer experience, they are likely to stay loyal to us later when they decide to buy a product like ours online.
- We’re going to create an experience centre where people love to hang out. You’ll find numerous examples of this out there (Sonos comes to mind) where a brand completely lowers inventory and doubles down on the experience instead. Sonos (instead of having a million stereos on the shelf ready to buy) provides amazing sound units, that look like “a friend’s modern apartment” and lets you crank your own music as loud as you want so that you can experience it.
Here is a video expanding on the concept of shopping as an experience, and a quote from that video: “The purpose of a store is no longer simply to distribute products… the purpose of a store has to be distributing experiences with those products and with the people in those spaces.” The Future of Retail” by Doug Stephens:
Enhanced In-Store Experience
In our store we plan to include a lot of super-cool stuff to enhance the customer experience:
- Highly trained experts who can assess and recommend the best footwear and devices for customers.
- Turf for athletes to test out new training shoes.
- A treadmill to help us analyze specific movements for customers.
- Coach’s Eye (app) for gait analysis and recommendations.
- Digital scanning of the foot to recommend best footwear and insoles.
- Demonstrations of heat-moulding boots.
- Demonstrations of 3D printing of custom insoles.
- Comfortable couches to relax on (and possibly shop on your phone while relaxing).
- Arcade games!
- Coffee, tea, water, snacks, and of course, most importantly,
- The most extraordinary customer service team you’ve ever seen. People must feel cared for, catered to, and honestly LOVED when they come to see us. We take our customer satisfaction so seriously that it is our number one KPI!
How Are You Planning for the Future of Retail?
Now, before you read this, you may be been trying to ignore it or pretend it’s not happening. Now, I hope I leave you feeling encouraged and EXCITED about the very cool future we are moving into. I’d love to hear about some of the ways you’re bringing your business into this new era!
If you need more help to find ways to effectively sell your products, contact TMH Business Coaching and Consulting today for a confidential, free, no-obligation consultation to propel you forward. Also, please feel free to add yourself to our weekly coaching tips email!