You might be raising an eyebrow over this post’s title but don’t be confused. Yes, retail shops are indeed intended for customers (hence are presumed to be always customer-centric) but it’s important to point out that not every retail shop meets the needs and preferences of customers. There are those that just seem uninterested in pleasing customers and are not exerting effort in turning them into frequenters or patrons.
The following ideas should help create a retail shop that is truly customer-centric, something that cares about its customers’ needs and wants.
1. Ensure a great customer experience
This may appear too obvious but it is necessary to put emphasis on the fact that being customer-centric involves the need to ensure a great customer experience. Take note that it’s not just good customer experience but a great or exemplary customer experience. It has to be something that leaves a lingering positive impression
One way of doing this is by providing a polite and competent store attendant. To emphasize, it’s not enough to just have polite or friendly attendants or service crews in the store. It’s equally important to have attendants or crew who are able to proficiently provide answers to inquiries and quickly address customers’ concerns. Being both polite and competent must go together. Additionally, it helps maintaining a responsive customer service hotline, which should similarly be handled by competent personnel. Those who are assigned to mind the store should truly be committed to creating a great experience for customers, both prospective and current. Customers should feel appreciated and valued. They should not feel that visiting your store has been a waste of time or worse, a pesky experience.
On the other hand, it is also very important to make your store (both brick-and-mortar and online) comfortable and welcoming. Your store should be neatly and strategically set up. Learn from the strategies used by successful retail stores in coming up with an effective store layout. Similarly, the products in your online store (if you have one) should be thoughtfully laid out, and your online store itself should be properly optimized. Don’t hesitate to spend for competent web development service to make sure that your online store is optimized. It should not suffer from poor loading times, bugs, and other issues that tend to drive away potential customers. Bear in mind that loading time affects the bottom line of e-commerce sites. If you want to create a great experience for your customers, you need to make sure that it does not feel cumbersome or inconvenient going over what you are offering.
2. Integrate customer insights in core business processes
Gathering customer feedback or insights and ensuring a deep understanding of customer needs and preferences is usually left to the discretion of managers. If your goal is to have a customer-centric retail shop, though, it is important to “institutionalize” or incorporate in most aspects of the business a system of obtaining feedback from customers. This could be through social media interactions, comments/feedback sections for product catalogs online, or contact forms that particularly invite customers to leave feedbacks, suggestions, or comments on their experience with the company. Explore all opportunities to quickly learn about what customers think of your products and services so you can promptly react and fix what needs fixing or make the most of that something that appeals to your customers.
3. Develop products or product variants based on customer needs and preferences
An important manifestation of being customer-centered can be observed in the products being offered. A company that understands its customers offers products that customers need or want. It should never run out of the products regularly purchased by customers. Likewise, it should be able to offer products being sought by customers. The relationship between supply and demand becomes more pronounced as you attempt to make make your business customer-centric. The product you want to supply should be based on the existing demand.
4. Maintain a responsive and interactive online presence, especially on social media
It would be a rarity to find customers who don’t use social media. That’s why it only makes sense exploiting whatever social media can offer to establish more intimate relationships with customers. Retail businesses should always strive to turn window shoppers into customers, customers into repeat customers, and repeat customers into patrons or loyal customers. This is something that can be achieved by doing the traditional way of providing customers a great experience but the process can be greatly enhanced with the help of social media. It may sound cheesy but there’s nothing wrong in trying to treat customers like family or close friends. After attracting them through less-than-personal methods like ads and email marketing, it would be good to nurture relations with them through social media. Regularly reach out to them through announcements, promos, or some form of content marketing you send through their social media feeds or timelines.
5. Make use of technology
Lastly, don’t be a luddite or technophobe. If you are in the retail business, it is inevitable making use of technology to reach out to customers and to stay competitive. The use of business software, in particular, should be seriously considered. There are many software tools nowadays that make it easy doing many of the tasks involved in retail businesses. For one, you can invest in an excellent inventory management software to make it easy to track inventory levels, automate orders or restocking, create centralized catalogs, automate promotions, and efficiently handle complicated matters like different pricing for the same product, store discounts, and engaging in “wholesale operations” as a retail business.
Becoming a customer-centric retail shop is not just about the direct act of providing customer service although it is a large part of it. There are direct and indirect ways of conducting retail operations with the satisfaction of customers as the primary motivation. Consider the pointers discussed above as you make your retail business more customer-centered.