The retail sector is one of the most competitive markets across all sectors with shoppers having an abundance of choice, not only on the high street, but also online. As a result, retailers simply can’t afford to be complacent when it comes to customer engagement and loyalty.
Research conducted by Indyme, a real-time shopper engagement specialist, highlighted how important in-store customer engagement really is. The study revealed that 90% of consumers who left a store due to bad service, went on to purchase a product from a competitor. Shoppers are increasingly astute with when and where their money is spent, so if they feel they’re getting poor value for money – and that includes customer service – they’ll simply go elsewhere. When a consumer abandons a purchase because of poor staff engagement they are unlikely to give the store a second chance and frequently pass on their bad experience to friends and family. This makes it all the more important for retailers to implement successful and enduring in-store shopper engagement strategies. Terry Clancy, Commercial Director West Europe at Indyme, provides his top five in-store customer engagement strategies to help retailers get it right:
1. Create a culture within the store
First and foremost, the responsibility of customer engagement rests with retail employees. The most straightforward and manageable way that retailers can deliver supportive and ultimately beneficial in-store customer engagement is to create a ‘proactive rather than reactive’ culture to shopper assistance in-store. Our recent research revealed that over three quarters of all respondents agreed service was an important element of the shopping experience, so educating and incentivising staff on how best to deliver this service would go a long way to improving customer service. Creating an ethos that champion’s timely and accurate service is a vital lesson that all retailers can adopt to achieve this.
2. Use the correct tools
To avoid consumers abandoning a purchase, there are a number of tools that retailers can employ across a store – whether it is in a specific department, in the fitting rooms or at the point of sale to ensure successful in-store customer engagement. Take for example the use of help buttons in fittings rooms; it is often the case that customers require assistance, be that to request a different size or item, and the introduction of help button combined with proactive employees would result not only in a positive shopper engagement experience but a lasting one.
3. Use real-time data to increase operational efficiency
The use of tools such as help buttons provides retailers with the opportunity to gather and log real-time data that they can use to further improve their in-store customer engagement strategies. In-store staffing is one example of the issues that can be streamlined through real-time data analysis. A store can determine, through the information gathered from help buttons, which departments are busiest on which day and therefore, which require the most assistance. As a result, retailers can change their staffing in order to accommodate increased consumer traffic and ensure improved assistance is provided to customers during busier periods.
4. Assistance must be timely
We know that consumers are spoilt for choice on the high street and will be able to purchase the same or a similar product from a number of different retailers. With the average time a consumer will wait for service before leaving less than 5 minutes, the need for timely assistance is all the more important. Using the correct tools in-store, can ensure assistance is timely as retailers will not only be aware that support is needed but will also have the ability to indentify where in-store it is required.
5. Assistance must be accurate
With more than half of consumers choosing to shop in-store in order to ask questions about the product, accurate answers from retail employees is a dependable way to ensure customers are satisfied with their in-store experience. It is vital that accurate assistance comes hand in hand with timely support to be truly effective as an in-store consumer engagement strategy that successfully garners customer loyalty. If one is delivered without the other, retailers run the risk of disgruntled shoppers voting with their feet and leaving to purchase from a competitor.
As shoppers are becoming more demanding in regards to customer service and increasingly fickle in relation to consumer loyalty, the need to implement effective in-store customer engagement strategies has never been so important. Retailers cannot afford to take customer engagement lightly. Our findings point to some stores potentially losing thousands of pounds worth of sales every year, not because shoppers can’t find what they’re looking for, but because staff are failing to engage correctly with customers. The optimum route that retailers can take is not a single layered strategy, but one that is multifaceted. It encompasses employee education and the creation of a proactive ethos working in tandem with retailers using the correct tools to analyse real-time data in order to increase operational efficiency.