No one can deny that the pandemic hit the retail sector hard. If you run a land-based store, you have probably dealt with a decrease in disposable income and reduced footfall over the last few years. The pandemic has been one of the most significant challenges for brick-and-mortar businesses lately, and sadly its effects still impact productivity in the retail industry.
In order to keep your business afloat, you probably had no choice but to invest in e-commerce operations and meet your clients online. As the lockdown forced you to shut down your physical shop, online sales were the only option for business survival. But now that land-based stores are open again and you can welcome your customers back, you’re facing a new obstacle, you need to provide them with a customer experience that matches their present needs. After years of social isolation, customers have changed their shopping habits, and it’s more challenging for physical stores to compete with online retailers.
Customer experience in brick-and-mortar facilities can be a brand differentiator. It’s crucial to provide your clients with the best in-store customer experience possible to increase sales and set your brand aside. Here are some practical recommendations on how to keep customers happy.
Keep your employees happy
You know the saying; happy staff leads to happy customers. Well, it’s true, especially when it comes to brick-and-mortar stores. Whether your employees are satisfied with the work conditions can influence the type of customer experience they provide to buyers. For example, high worker dissatisfaction could trigger turnover, making your business look unstable. Happy staff, on the other hand, is more loyal and willing to work hard to support corporate success, so it presents the public with a knowledgeable, dependable, and consistent face, making customers trust your brand. Satisfied employees are more likely to put the time and effort into providing your customers with the best possible shopping experience.
Create a welcoming atmosphere
This goes without saying; people will spend more time in your store if they feel comfortable. If you want to keep your clients engaged, make sure your shop has clear walkways, is well lit, and the shelves are well organised to make it easier for buyers to find the products they’re looking for. If you run a large store, using signage to help them navigate the layout would be a plus because it can provide information about products and sections. The way you organise your store and create the layout can also have a huge impact on the experience you provide to visitors. Think about Ikea, a huge store that provides shortcuts through the facility so clients can reach the areas they’re interested in faster.
Try to give the store personality and develop the layout to reflect your brand’s values. Allow your customers to experience your brand from the moment they enter the building and help them visualise the products you offer in an environment that highlights their features.
Provide your customer with the option to pay as they prefer
The pandemic showed retail business owners that staff and customer protection should be a priority. When reopening your store, deep cleaning and decontamination should become usual tasks as they promote health and safety. Yet, another way to enhance safety and optimise customer experience (at the same time) is card payment adoption. If you used to accept cash payments in the past, you should consider switching to card payments or at least provide the solution as an alternative to traditional charging. Equip your stores with card machines, and if your employees make home deliveries, provide them with autonomous card readers, they could use remotely. Both your employees and customers will be thankful for offering them the possibility to use wireless technology to stay safe. If you get card machines from myPOS you can accept payments in multiple currencies, register payments instantly, and take payments in-store and on the go.
Engage with clients
When you think about engaging with your customers, you most likely think about responding to their messages and comments on social media and posting content regularly. But the truth is that engaging with customers extends beyond your social media profiles. You need to understand what your target customer wants and offer them personalised services online and offline. Engage with them when they visit your sales floor, create surveys to find out what they want, encourage them to review and rate your services, and if something negative comes up, be transparent about how you intend to deal with the situation. Reach out to unsatisfied clients and do your best to turn their negative experiences into positive ones.
This recommendation combines with the tip to ensure you keep your customers happy. A well-prepared and happy employee can be empathetic with a frustrated customer and look for ways to improve their experience. The contented staff brings the right energy to the store and can foster a good shopping journey for your buyers.
Create customer loyalty programs
Customer loyalty programs are quite powerful in retaining clients and boosting customer experience. You most likely know that loyal clients are more likely to spend more money over time, are more affordable to retain, and can promote your business through word-of-mouth. A recommendation from a loyal customer counts more than paid ads on social media because people trust their friends and family more than online marketing. Your loyal customers could act as your brand ambassadors and influence indecisive shoppers into buying your products. Provide your loyal customers with incentives and encourage them to return to your store periodically for more special offers. Create a loyalty program to motivate them to recommend your services to other prospects. No matter how you choose to reward their loyalty, do it in a meaningful way, and customise the experience if possible. An effective way to encourage loyalty is to offer exclusive discounts to match their shopping habits and add value to their shopping experience.
Great customer experience is a deal-breaker in retail, online and offline. When your customers walk away from your store with a positive retail experience, they’re more likely to return, recommend your brand, and support your business.