For many in North America, the pandemic limited both consumers and retailers to online and contactless retail experiences. As the world reopens — depending on where you live — stores are starting to see an increase in foot traffic. But these past few years have changed customers’ expectations and behaviors forever, and retailers need to keep up or ideally get ahead of that curve. As a retailer, you should be asking yourself: How do I engage with and encourage someone who used to come into my store but now mostly buys online?
1. Provide a great customer experience, with seamless omnichannel flows.
Offering a great customer experience is not a new concept, but what constitutes a great experience is a bar that is constantly being raised. Ensure you capture those online shoppers by offering effortless omnichannel retail experiences such as buy online, pick up in-store, and curbside pick-up services. Offering a great flow from website to storefront will encourage those previously lost customers into your store for further upselling opportunities, and make them feel cared for. Inside those brick-and-mortar locations, creating a great experience ranges from the store layout and flow, to offering cool features such as interactive shopping displays, to the quality and time duration of the service your associates provide. In addition, always remember that customers and staff have more going on in their lives than ever before. We all need to remember to take a deep breath and be kind.
2. Reduce the barrier to entry into your stores.
This might sound obvious, but when you’re trying to recapture foot traffic, you don’t want anything to put people off coming inside. This includes making sure that front door is accessible and has clear signage, having an easy-to-use queue management system, and making sure all your location’s hours and contact info are correct online. With local restrictions changing almost daily, your customers will appreciate easy-to-find and accurate information. And, tying in with point 1 above, make sure that customers in the area can find your store and arrive knowing that the product they want is in stock.
3. Elevate customer service levels with authenticity and personalization.
Whether shopping in a store they regularly visit, or eating at their favorite local restaurant, customers today expect a level of familiarity and personalization. Ensure your store associates develop relationships with their customers and learn their names and their key preferences. Who doesn’t like to hear, “Good to see you again, John, have a great day,” or “Hey, Jill, how’s that Galaxy been working out for you?” These little things can build deep relationships and a long-time connection to a salesperson, a particular store, and ultimately a brand. Fortunately, there are tools that can help with that.
4. Prioritize smart training and workforce management.
It’s not a secret that most of the retail sector is dealing with a staffing crisis like we have never seen, which can make the elevated service levels in our earlier point difficult to achieve. With far fewer bodies in stores, and the need to get new hires on the sales floor as quickly as possible, making sure your associates are fully trained and know where to go find what they need later is key (we have great tools for that, too). And using intelligent workforce management solutions is crucial to operating efficiently while staying lean.
5. Never forget that data is your friend.
As sales cycles and customer buying behaviors shift, rich data and analytics can help you better understand how to be more effective in your marketing and more efficient in your staffing, and how to give your customers a more enjoyable, personalized, and meaningful path to purchase.
As people start to head back into stores, they will be selective about which stores deserve their hard-earned money and precious time. What will you do differently in 2022 to meaningfully connect with customers?
Caoimhin Smyth is Director, Client Engagement at iQmetrix. Caoimhin leads the Wireline and OEM Client Engagement team, supporting the needs of regional and national carriers, MVNO and OEM retail partners. His approach to client engagement is for the team to be students of every client’s retail operations, and to be their fearless advocates. Caoimhin and his team are always looking for new ways to grow their clients’ businesses, as well as iQmetrix overall.