There was a time when supply and demand alone ran the retail industry. Consumers were typically limited to shopping at stores in their communities, leaving them with limited options. With improved transportation and the prevalence of e-commerce, the retail landscape is much more diversified. As a result, stores need to leverage assets beyond their products to gain market share. A big part of having a successful brick-and-mortar shop is creating a pleasant experience for the customers. Find out why customer experience matters and pick up a few tips for improving yours.
"Retail stores need to leverage assets beyond their products."
What is the value of a positive customer experience?
Fast Company described the customer experience as the aspects of your brand that create conversations, whether they're based on praise or complaints. Once upon a time, information about companies and products was controlled by the businesses themselves – they determined how much knowledge consumers could gather. Now, it's easy for shoppers to compare price points, locations, customer service reviews and countless other characteristics of a store online. The result is a decreased focus on the actual products that competitors offer because customers are influenced more by these other factors. In fact, they can often order the same items online without really having any type of customer experience.
According to the Retail Doctor, business owners should think of the merchandise that shoppers leave with as a souvenir from an enjoyable experience, one that will hopefully remind them to return. While advertising low prices can bring in business, it's likely that many of your competitors can match them. By dropping your prices to compete with similar businesses, you'll boost your short-term sales numbers, but your year-end profit will show the reduced revenue. If discounting your merchandise isn't the answer to making headway in the market, how can you make your business a fiercer competitor?
What can you change to improve it?
A customer's shopping experience begins before he or she even walks into the store. The quality of your window displays is the first impression. Forbes magazine explained how you want to immediately attract shoppers with the opportunity to explore your merchandise, particularly by building curiosity. The general atmosphere of your store plays a part, from your choice of store fixtures and lighting to the music you play during operating hours.
If your employees look like they enjoy their job and make an effort to engage with customers, it'll have a large impact on how consumers perceive the experience. Staff members should also be knowledgeable about all of the merchandise for an especially seamless customer experience, the Retail Doctor added. The hope is that these shoppers will return
Forbes recommended making your business transparent to improve how customers interact with your brand and show that you can take criticism in a constructive way. It's important for patrons to know that you're willing to evolve in ways that better the experience for customers. For the same reason, you should provide a space for your patrons to discuss their thoughts and impressions of the business – whether that be on social media, Yelp or a comments section on your website. The hope is that these shoppers will return soon for an equally awesome – or even better – experience than the one before.
Overall, you should consider how you can create a positive and valuable transaction with each potential customer, even if he or she doesn't make a purchase and the exchange comes in the form of time or information.