Another article addressing the future and the retail industry, ughh! We all have seen articles about change, technology, new trends, the need for a great customer experience. Change in retailing is everywhere, but practically what can you do to help your stores meet the demands of the future retailer today? One “bottom line” suggestion is: get your retail-focused employees out from behind the counter. Many stores hire people that are comfortable with running a POS or handling cash, or can be relied on to handle day-end closing procedures. This article will outline the benefits of mixing in warm, outgoing individuals in the hiring mix and bringing them out from behind the counter.
“Oh great, one more thing I need to do” you might be saying to yourself. It doesn’t have to be hard. As part of the hiring process you could ask individuals to do a personality test. A free online test like www.my-personality-test.com will help you get to know your new employee. In this test, if you find a candidate who is strong in the “Feeling and Perceiving” categories then this is someone who has the potential to change your customer’s experience. How? Imagine a person with a warm smile, who likes to connect with customers, who enjoys being at the front of the store answering customer questions about inventory, future sale prices or your online store and tendering the sale for the customer — all with a tablet (linked to your POS system). This relational selling approach doesn’t need to be reserved for the “apple stores” of this world, it is available to every size and type of store, from a technology point of view, now. But do you have those warm, relational, outgoing people? If you do, you are on the right track, but how does this help you prepare for the future?
I subscribe to the “5 Different Types of Customers” model outlined in an article by The Balance SMB. Let’s examine how this approach alters how customers view their experience in your store compared to the other ways they typically can and will buy.
Loyal Customers: Typically these customers are 20% of your traffic, but represent approx. 50% of your sales. They love your products, they love your location now let’s give them more — personalized service, quick response (no running to the back to get that inventory answer or follow me to returns). Tell them about upcoming specials, new product introductions or which other location has what they are looking for — all with a smile and a personal connection.
Discount Customers: I am so one of these, I love a deal! Take the sale now! If you know that item is going on sale at the end of the month, don’t tell them to come back then. Take the sale now and call them at the end of the month to say their item is ready for pick up or would they like it shipped, and do they want to pay now or later? Now that’s service to a discount customer. If you did that for me, I am on my way to becoming a loyal customer!
Impulse Customers: Another way to say it is, “on-the-spot decision makers”. How many sales are lost between the rack out front and the walk to the POS counter? How many sales are lost because staff don’t have the answers “on the spot?” That warm, friendly associate of yours, equipped with a tablet for answering any questions is a powerful customer experience for on-the-spot decision makers.
Need Based Customers: We have all seen them, they walk in to our stores on a mission, they likely have already looked it up on our website, they know the part number, the price and if we have it in stock. Get in, get out in the least amount of time. Remember, they already spent their time shopping online – on your webstore. They need to find it quick, pay for it quick, get out the door quick! Take the payment on the tablet, scan the item while it is still on the shelf, take the payment and these customers experienced “no lineup” and a smiling face. They will find your webstore again, and be back because that online store couldn’t get it to them fast enough.
Wandering Customers: These customers have no specific need or item in mind to buy, but they wandered into your store for whatever reason. These possible customers are focused on the buying experience. A smiling, happy retail associate won’t mind engaging these customers in conversation and connection and based on that will need to prioritize who they spend their time with, but if a customer has a question – any question it’s an opportunity to differentiate your store for the future in that customers mind.
A retailer can start today getting ready for the future. The internet and mobile phone give people access to information and ways to buy but in our culture, there is a growing need to be connected and to involve others in our lives. This need in our society is growing and opens new opportunities for us as a retailer to be a place of genuine, caring helpful connection. The internet can’t replace a smile, and a “Thank you it was great meeting you today, please come back again.” Do you have the right people on your team? If you do, talk to Mibusoft today about how we can help make your team mobile and get them out from behind the counter.