How to Win the New Retail Revolution
For the past several years retail has focused on low prices and broad selection – with a lot of emphasis on online shopping. But studies show that a new shopping revolution is underway and consumers are demanding more from their shopping experiences than just online discounts. Impersonal digital transactions are no longer enough to win in retail – if they ever were.
Today’s shopper is most likely to investigate products and brands online, but then head to a physical store to purchase the product. The current shift in purchasing patterns points to a renewed consumer demand for a more personal, better informed way of buying. And this shift is taking place mostly in brick-and-mortar stores.
Shoppers want knowledgeable, experienced help when they shop in stores, because that’s why they’re there – for the type of help and guidance they can’t find on their own. In one study focused on why people are in stores 50% of participating shoppers said they were looking for expert advice to guide their purchases. And 73% said “product knowledge” was what they valued most from a shopping experience.
If shoppers don’t get the help they want, they will walk out your door and right into the arms of your competition. The 2012 Kellogg Shopper Index found that, among shoppers who said they engaged in showrooming, 40% reported that they actually never intended to buy online, but they were driven there after experiencing poor customer service and support in stores.
Even more shocking was how pervasive the theme of unsatisfactory help is for customers: 59% of participating shoppers in the Kellogg Shopper Index also said they received poor or average service in the stores where they’d recently shopped.
That’s 6 out of 10 customers who received little to no help in the stores where they had come to find help! Clearly, retailers and brands that do not provide expert help to consumers when they want it are losing more than half their potential customers to their competition.
It turns out those few minutes of face-to-face interaction on the sales floor can mean the difference between losing a new customer, or developing an advocate for your store or brand. Those few minutes of buying experience can be frustrating for the consumer (and disappointing for you), or your sales associates can make a better sale, find a new customer, and create the first point-of contact for developing a loyal customer.
Which means that developing helpful expertise, and knowledgeable retail sales associates is more critical now than ever before, to keep customers in your store and convert them into repeat and loyal purchasers.
In the long run, this retail revolution will reward assertive action. Retailers and product companies that act now to empower the people who speak for them with knowledge and expertise, will create extraordinary buying experiences for their consumers. And they will be the companies that win this revolution.