It’s tough to get customers to your retail store — and tougher still to make them to return again and again. For your retail business to succeed, the key is to provide customers with a great shopping experience.
What is a Great Shopping Experience?
But what is a “great shopping experience?’
The University of Pennsylvania released a study a few years ago on retail shopping experiences called “Discovering ‘WOW’–A Study of Great Retail Shopping Experiences in North America”. There were a number of findings in the report, but the most interesting was the identification of five categories of great shopping experiences:
- Engagement: being polite, genuinely caring and interested in helping, acknowledging and listening.
- Executional Excellence: patiently explaining and advising, checking stock, helping to find products, having product knowledge and providing unexpected product quality.
- Brand Experience: exciting store design and atmosphere, consistently great product quality, making customers feel they’re special and that they always get a deal.
- Expediting: being sensitive to customers’ time on long check-out lines, being proactive in helping speed the shopping process.
- Problem Recovery: helping resolve and compensate for problems, upgrading quality and ensuring complete satisfaction.
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Not surprisingly, of these five categories, two were found to contribute most significantly to customer loyalty, Engagement and Brand Experience. This should resonate particularly with independent retailers.
What Retailers Need to Do to Wow Customers
As I read about these five categories, I thought of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs from the psychology courses I took years ago. Maslow seemed like a good framework for understanding these five categories.
In Maslow’s hierarchy, before a higher level need can be met, each lower level need must first be met. Before Social Needs can be met, for example, Physiological Needs and Safety Needs must be met.
Similarly, before a customer considers a shopping experience truly memorable and a retailer deserving of loyalty, a retailer must get the basics right. These things are the baseline, minimum expectations that a customer has about their retail experience.
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So it only seems logical that before Engagement and Brand Experience can truly resonate with customers, a retailer must demonstrate Executional Excellence, Expediting and Recovery. A retailer must have the right product in stock and the customer must be able to easily find it, the customer must be able to get through checkout quickly, and problems, such as returns must be handled quickly and without hassle. Until you get those things right, nothing else you do is going to have much of an impact on your customers.
But once you do get the basics right, you earn the opportunity to captivate customers through genuine personal engagement, one customer at a time, and delight with a unique and distinctive shopping experience.
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These are things that the very best independent retailers have always intuitively understood. It is the ability to get the basics right, basics that so many national retailers struggle with, and offer a unique and distinctive shopping experience, when so many national retailers offer indistinguishable me-too, cookie cutter stores, which enables the very best independent retailers to differentiate themselves so successfully.
Recommended Books on How Your Retail Store can Wow Customers:
- How to Wow: 68 Effortless Ways to Make Every Customer Experience Amazing
- The Zappos Experience: 5 Principles to Inspire, Engage, and WOW
- Strategies For Delivering WOW! – How to Attain & Retain Customers by Creating Unforgettable Moments – Business Development
- Creating Lifetime Clients: How to Wow Your Customers for Life
- 501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet for Your Customers: Easy-to-Implement Ideas to Inspire Loyalty, Get New Customers, and Make a Lasting Impression
- Customer Experience 3.0: High-Profit Strategies in the Age of Techno Service
Ted Hurlbut is a retail consultant, coach and speaker who helps independent retailers increase sales, profitability and cash flow by leveraging his deep expertise and proven retail know-how, Get his FREE report “The 16 Essential Elements of a WINNING Independent Retail Strategy” Visit: HurlbutaAsociates.com