Retail Customer Experience That Works: Connecting With Shoppers
By Bob Phibbs
The day I started to actually wash and condition my face was the day a spa esthetician made it clear that for a guy in my line of work... where my mug is my brand... I had to elevate the way I treated my skin.
No longer could I just use a supermarket bar soap, I had to get the correct moisturizer, serum, and scrub so my face wouldn’t dry out and look old.
I’ve learned similar lessons in men’s clothing stores, cooking stores, and in home decor stores. In each case, I wouldn’t have changed the way I saw things if I hadn’t had someone sharing their wisdom.
Retailers no longer have the luxury of competing solely in local markets. Today’s shoppers have the entire world at their fingertips via the internet and can have anything delivered to their doorsteps in a matter of days. So, how does a retailer compete against the entire world?
It isn’t by being the cheapest - there’s always someone cheaper.
It isn’t by discounting - your margins won’t be sustainable.
It isn’t by creating an expensive store environment - there are plenty of beautiful stores.
The only way a brick and mortar retailer can compete is by creating something that online retailers can’t – a unique and individual customer experience.
That’s why so many online retailers are opening their own stores now. They realize online isn’t the be-all and catch-all.
The quality of your brands, the professionalism of your salespeople, and the reliability of your service are all things that distinguish you from Amazon and the like.
The one thing the internet can’t offer is a genuine, interpersonal experience.
Brick and Mortar is Alive and Well
Online shopping was supposed to kill off brick-and-mortar stores more than a decade ago. Yet those stores continue to exist, with many of them doing better than ever. With the ease and savings of online shopping, why do brick and mortar retailers continue to thrive?
They thrive because they offer consumers two things they can’t get online - instant gratification and personalized attention.
The NOW Shopper: This is the person who needs shoes for a dinner party in 2 hours, an HDMI cable before tonight’s big game, or a gift for a birthday party that they’re already late for. They can’t wait for two-day shipping to get what they need. This can make them seem like an easy, slam-dunk sale. However, if you take that approach, they don’t leave with anything they couldn’t have gotten online with a little more forethought. Any clerk can ring up their purchase and send them on their way. A true salesperson will seize the opportunity and create a valuable experience for the shopper and the store. A new tie or purse would go great with those shoes and make the buyer look great at the dinner party. Tonight’s game might look great in HD, but how will it sound? A top-end sound bar can bring the stadium into their living room. That watch will make a nice present, but this other watch will look better and be more appreciated. With a little bit of listening and a knowledge of product pairings, your salesperson just turned a quick sale into a meaningful, valuable experience. They enjoyed higher per-ticket sales and the customer enjoyed shopping in a way that online retailers just can’t match.
The ME Shopper: These shoppers have plenty of time to browse and order online while binging on House of Cards, but they want the experience of buying in person. They may enjoy browsing; they may like talking to salespeople or just want to get out of the house for a while. Either way, they’re offering your salespeople a chance to engage, connect, and differentiate your store from all the other options.
The ME Shopper could easily go online and buy something they like - even while standing in your store. It’s up to your sales staff to engage them and start building rapport. Listening to the shopper, reading their body language, and directly addressing their motivators to buy all create an atmosphere of trust. There’s no need to always be closing; the buyer will tell your salesperson when the time is right.
Sharing wisdom helps the shopper compare all the product knowledge they found on the web with the product you’re offering and is key to success with the ME Shopper. Being able to confidently answer questions and add wisdom maintains an atmosphere of trust and raises your salesperson to the level of trusted advisor. That knowledge also keeps your salesperson from being tempted to exaggerate the product’s virtues, something the customer could immediately fact-check online.
It’s impossible to predict what type of shopper will walk into your brick and mortar store at any given moment. It’s even harder to predict what their particular motivations and expectations will be. While they may say low price, they will never say the sky’s the limit.
Fortunately, that doesn’t change the underlying facts of what you have to offer. Online retailers have the benefit of economies of scale and of conducting millions of transactions a month which makes them a considerable force.
However, out of all of those transactions, how many customers experienced interactions?
That’s where sales training sets you apart from online retailers that rely on algorithms and automated checkouts. Your goal is that for those few minutes that your person is by your side you need to make them feel as if they are the most important person in your world.
Well-trained salespeople are prepared to interact with shoppers in real, meaningful ways. Your properly trained sales staff can create a genuine, unique experience for every customer who walks through your door.
Those consumers will remember that interpersonal experience far longer than they will remember clicking a Buy button on a website.
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Are you a hungry brick-and-mortar store owner who’s ready for a fresh, people-obsessed strategy? This training is for you if you want to grow your business using a powerful customer experience formula proven to make your cash register chirp.