It’s The Customer, Stupid
It seems like the realities of retail are reinforced again and again. Most recently a survey of stores and customers found that, indeed, the key to winning in the retail game is to treat people well.
The survey, conducted at the Worldwide Business Research Future Stores conference back in July, gleaned insights from over 1,000 customers and over 60 retailers, including CVS, Neiman Marcus and Macy’s. It was conducted by TimeTrade, an online scheduling platform and business consultant based in Massachusetts
Shoppers just want a little respect and attention. (image credit: BobsPhotography.nl)
The number one thing that customers find is missing from their shopping experience is the personal touch that in-store personnel offer. According to the survey, 33% of customers want a more personalized experience; 30% was smarter, more helpful employees and 29% want faster customer service.
Speaking of faster service, 80% will abandon an in-store purchase if they have to wait more than five minutes for services like helping them find products, answering questions or checkout. Among retailers, 80% revealed that sales increase by 25 to 50% when customers are assisted by product experts.
“A lot of them told us they’d be willing to even pay a little more if they got some personal attention,” said Ambrosino.
It’s impossible to wave aside the survey’s findings and argue that online shopping will force retail the way of the Dodo, only about 10% to 12% of shopping is conducted online, says Ambrosino. Those surveyed by TimeTrade are seeing an increase in online sales and expect to see that trend continue but so far in 2013 have found that 83% of their sales took place in the physical store.
Last year retailers surveyed said about 3% of their sales came from mobile phone purchases. They expect that metric to almost triple in 2014.
Ambrosino does not forecast the end of retail, rather an upgrade to the shopping experience. In the future customers will be treated to service reminiscent of Apple AAPL -1.07%’s Apple Store, with knowledgeable, attendant customer service reps and scheduling.
“If you’re a shopper and you’re going to (spend) the energy and effort to go to a store, you’re probably going to walk into that store and get that Genius Bar experience where they know you’re coming, they know you’re in the store, they’ve allocated someone to service your requests, they know all about you,” he said.
Ambrosino and his company are betting that retail will head in that direction and have developed products and systems to help turn their retailer clients into a more Apple Store-type production. “We have customers who are already telling us that there will be retail locations that they create that only serve customers who have arranged to come in. I think that’s the way it will work.”