Retailers – Don’t Forget the In-Store Customer Experience

High-end-Retail-Vertical-Image-FAN2041603Recognizing that high quality customer profiling isn’t just the purview of online search engines, savvy retailers are steadily building comprehensive profiles of their customers’ online shopping habits. But with the vast majority of retail spending still occurring in traditional brick and mortar stores, what are retailers doing to capture customer data in the physical store?

The answer for the majority of retailers is ‘not a lot’. Often the first time a store identifies and begins tracking a customer’s shopping habits is after the customer pays for her goods and walks out the door. When their money is back in their pocket or purse, and their back is turned to you, is not the ideal time try and create an up sell opportunity based on data you just collected during checkout. In fact, with the tracking tools embedded in most online store fronts, retailers know a lot more about a customer sitting at home shopping online than those walking around the store.

Stores are missing out on the opportunity to increase the total sale per shopping trip and also gather invaluable additional customer profiling information, which could increase spend both in-store and online. A recent report released by Aberdeen Group showed that top performing organisations are 60% more likely to have a customer care program in place. But how to get started? That is the question.

Identify early with active in-store customer management
Engaging personally with a customer as early as possible in the buying cycle—when customers are still in the Awareness phase–allows merchants to tailor the selling opportunity to the particular customer rather than trying to reach everyone using impersonal mass-messaging. Doing this well actually involves connecting with the customer before they step into the store by using online or printed promotional discount codes, coupons, offers, and even by simply communicating with them about new products.

This concept is not new; we all receive offers via mail and online. What IS new, is how we encourage customers to respond to these offers and then how we collect and track that usage data using in-store systems. Below are number of tactics and tips to boost customer engagement in the store:

  • Providing customers with ‘offers’ they can redeem (and you can track) simply by visiting the store, can encourage enrolment with the in-store systems.
  • Customers often bookmark or add products to carts online before visiting the store. Being able to identify the customer and having that information on hand lets sales associates work more efficiently and personally with customers to finalize their selections.
  • With fashion items, customers are often wary of online purchase as they are unsure of the size they should get. Being reminded of that item and offering to assist them in finding that item in their size could prompt them to purchase in-store.
  • Loyal customers who become identified because they enrolled with the store system can be treated with a more personal touch. For example, offering them a voucher for a free coffee from the café, sent via email or online, which they can collect from a sales assistant, creates the opportunity for unobtrusive identification.
  • In-store online systems are the ideal place to capture new enrolments by encouraging existing customers to share their experience with friends while in the store.
  • Satellite stores with minimum stock levels and restricted ranges can offer endless isle shopping using in-store mobile islands that connect to the store’s ecommerce site.

That last point is an important one: deploying tablets around the store with applications such as lookbooks (online catalogues) can encourage shoppers to identify themselves in the store. This allows merchants to personalise promotions to individual customers. Let’s talk about this more.

Capture in depth customer data and feedback
In-store customers create a unique opportunity for retailers to enhance the data held on customer shopping preferences. Store staff equipped with clienteling tablets can:

  • Enhance the personalised shopping experience by ‘knowing’ the customer through access to previous purchases and stored favourites.
  • Capture additional information on customer’s personal preferences in terms of styles and colours as part of the sales process.
  • Quickly create rich customer reaction data to new product lines (did their purchases reflect a taste towards a particular product line?).
  • Elicit in-depth customer views on previous online and in-store purchases.

While some of this data collecting requires a human’s finesse and a real person to input the data, much of it can also be automated. The requirement for this work though is that the experience must be “frictionless.” It must not get in the way of the selection and purchase process. When implemented in a smart, well-planned manner, using technology available today—like the VeriFone GlobalBay mobile retail solution–retailers can deliver not only a more engaging customer experience, but also enhance current and future online and in-store sales.

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