Well the big day is over but the end of the busiest shopping season is not yet in sight for retailers. The start of the sales, which traditionally began in January, has crept ever earlier as retailers compete for a share of cash-strapped consumer spending in a tight economy. Indeed, many brands now start their sales at midnight on Christmas Eve, vying for the attention of consumers with vouchers burning a hole in their pocket who go online on Christmas Day for a bit of retail therapy and to bag a bargain.
So what can retailers do to ensure they stand out from the competition and provide a great customer experience during the sales mayhem that will see shoppers return to them in future and become brand advocates?
Here is a simple 3 step guide:
Step 1 – Multichannel, one experience
Internet shopping is now more popular in the UK than any other major country in the world, according to the latest International Communications Market Report released by Ofcom. Shoppers use online channels in a variety of ways, not only to shop but also to read reviews and research products before visiting a store.
Customer opinions of your brand are formed over time across these channels – you may see them as separate, but customers view them as one brand experience. It is important for brands to deliver a consistent experience, delivering the same brand promise at each point of their customers’ journey. Feedback programmes can ensure each channel is consistent with the desired brand experience, enabling businesses to maintain a strong brand identity across what may be disparate parts of their operations.
Step 2 – The human touch
Staff have a more important role to play during busy periods. A friendly welcome upon entering a store can make a great first impression to shoppers battling their way through sales crowds; shop floor staff can direct customers to what they’re looking for with ease and provide up to date stock information via mobile devices; and a friendly word at the checkout with clear information about refunds and returns policies can complete a great in-store experience. Forging a human connection with shoppers can also help grow turnover. Empathica retail studies show a thoughtful product suggestion from a staff member can increase basket sizes by up to 30%.
Step 3 – Walk a mile in your customers’ shoes
Store layouts change to accommodate stock promotions and sale items – at best this can confuse customers; at worst, it can irritate.
Examine every aspect of the store environment – starting from the outside looking in, all the way through to what is experienced as a customer leaves and including staff interaction points. Ensure they build, rather than detract from, a great customer experience. At sales times more than any other these elements are potential key moments to deliver the brand promise and consistency in operations to ensure every visit is a perfect one.