How to lift the bottom line by getting closer to your customers

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In the not-so-distant past, shopping in retail stores was straightforward: customers walked into a shop, found something they liked or was the right fit, and proceeded to the checkout. These days the retail journey isn’t that simple –  customers use multiple channels and devices to research, browse, and buy.

When we talk about different channels (i.e. brick and mortar, ecommerce, mobile, and social), it can be tempting to think that omnichannel is all about technology. But ultimately your strategy should start and end with the customer. Therefore, figuring out the customer journey is critical. How do people find your store(s)? What channels are they using and how are they using them? How do they interact with your brand? There are several ways to answer these questions. Depending on your business, you may want to use a combination of the following:

1. IN-STORE OBSERVATIONS

Pay attention to how people behave in your stores. Do they go straight to a product or spend time browsing? Are shoppers price-checking on their phones? Do they ask a lot of questions? Such observations can provide insights into their retail journey.

2. CUSTOMER SURVEYS AND INTERVIEWS

Go straight to the source. Talk to your customers about their paths to purchase. How do they discover products? Which websites or apps do they use when shopping? How do they want orders to be fulfilled? Get the answers to these questions, and incorporate them into your strategy.

3. CUSTOMER SERVICE LOGS

The issues and concerns fielded by your customer service team can be a goldmine for omnichannel insights, and they’ll certainly help you identify any shortcomings in your retail strategy.

4. ONLINE COMMENTS AND REVIEWS

Go through your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter profiles and read what people are saying about your business. Consumers can be very vocal online – on both the good and the bad! From this you’ll be able to pick up many insights into their experiences with you.

5. COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS

Check out what your competitors are doing. Identify the channels they’re using to sell to and connect with customers, and make a purchase using those channels to get a feel for their shopping experience.

6. MAP IT

Following the steps and advice above should give you a clear idea of how your customers shop. If you want a better view of shoppers’ path to purchase, consider mapping out the customer journey. This will help you better understand the channels your customers are using at each stage of their buying journey.

At this point, you might discover that you need to make improvements to your sales and fulfillment channels. Perhaps your customer research has shown that people want to buy online and pick up in-store, but you’re not offering click-and-collect yet. The best way to evaluate your sales channels is to shop your brand. Get a first-hand experience of what it’s like to buy from your stores, then take note of the positive and negative components of the experience. Armed with this information you can make the right adjustments and be sure to delight your customers. Then they’ll be sure to come back again and again.

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Francesca Nicasio
Francesca is an Author and Retail Expert at Vend. She’s passionate about helping retailers increase sales, save time, and serve customers better.

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