When it comes to physical retail sales, the explosion of the Internet in the last 30-years and the increasing competition between industry competitors both online and offline, has led to an increasingly challenging retail industry. Retailers have to be savvy in many different areas these days, in order to compete with retailers from all areas, to be price competitive without compromising quality or profit margins to detrimental levels, and to maintain positivity in the face of falling footfall. Being able to earn customer retention in the face of such challenges will take hard work and determination, but with a concerted effort, clear plan of action, and processes such as mystery shopping to better understand your customers, you can achieve great things even as traditional retail falters in the grand scheme of things.
Footfall has continues to decline in recent years and physical retailers have spent too many years viewing online retailers as the enemy and expecting the worst, rather than being proactive and looking at ways they can improve the service of the business. Mystery shopping is a fantastic way to look at your business as the customer sees it, and find ways in which you can improve the service they receive, to diversify and offer online retail opportunities for customers, click and collect services, and improve the offering of your regular in-store experience.
The reason retailers are still around is that when we get to the heart of the matter, all humans crave some form of real contact. Although it is very easy and convenient to order something online, it isn’t something that most people want to do for absolutely every purchase they make. As a retailer, you have to improve your service to such an extent that when a customer comes to you for that purchase in person, or over the phone, you are ready to capitalise.
Improving customer service standards and levels of customer satisfaction should always be a priority for your retail company, and the customer’s journey is the focus. You should be asking a number of key questions, including:
- How do they discover your brand?
- Do you interact with brand consistency on multiple social media platforms?
- How do you welcome a customer to your store?
- Is it easy for them to find what they are looking for or to query with your team?
- Is the transaction straightforward?
- What are the returns and complaints policies in place?
Improving the core concepts of how you interact with your customers will help you to understand their motivations and what is more likely to make them return to you time and again.
Understanding your customers should be a priority in any industry, but it is even more important in physical, high street retail outlets where the competition is fierce with your physical neighbours and online competitors. Understanding what customers are looking for, what they like about your products, services and processes, and which areas require improvement, will help you to reduce the impact of reduced footfall and physical customers, and maintain a company that continues to grow and improve its service and customer satisfaction levels.