Four Ways to Make Customers Fall in Love With Your Brand02.29.2016
If there is one thing we know about retail, it’s this: there is no shortage of choices available for customers in today’s marketplace. Forty years ago, you may only have had one or two brands to choose from in any given category. Today on the other hand, you have an entire aisle of brands to select from!
As a customer, the endless options can be beneficial. If one brand doesn’t work, it’s easy to switch to another. However, from a brand’s point of view, the variety of competition makes customer loyalty not only difficult to attain in the first place, but even harder to maintain in the long term. So, how do you make customers fall in love with your brand? We’re answering this age-old question with four retail best practices.
Before we get too deep into the specifics, let’s look at some new research surrounding customer expectations for brands when shopping in-store. In a recent Time Trade survey titled “The State of Retail 2016”, researchers asked over 5,000 consumers what they value MOST when interacting with brands. Their top three answers were as follows:
1. Prompt service (54%)
2. A personalized experience (30%)
3. Smart recommendations (16%)
“The State of Retail 2016” report was full of helpful insights and statistics, but the bottom line was this: customers still prefer to interact with brands in-store, yet they expect more from their in-store experiences. Really, the bigger truth is that they expect more from brands in general.
Consumers still look to the in-store experience: 72% plan to shop in stores as much as they did last year, and 18% report they expect to shop in stores more than last year (The State of Retail, Jan. 2016 – Time Trade).
In fact, the Time Trade Survey pointed out that 85% of consumers stated they are willing to abandon a dressing room and leave a store altogether if a store associate is not readily available to help them. Thanks to mobile phones and apps which provide instant access to information and help at any point in time, customers expect the same level of service when shopping in-store.
So, the question remains: how can you use this information to your advantage and get customers to swoon over your brand’s offerings online and, more particularly, in-store? Let’s explore a few strategies.
- Cultivate concierge-like service.
In order to keep up with the demands of customers, you must learn to foster a concierge-like service mindset. Treat customers as individuals and ensure they receive prompt service by having adequate staff at all times. Make sure staff are available to answer questions, process returns, and offer personalized service and advice to customers throughout their shopping journey. Utilize customer analytics to offer even more of a personalized experience for in-store shoppers.
Consumers are willing to book an appointment with their retailer: 59% of consumers would schedule an in-store appointment (from any device) with a store associate at a time that is most convenient for them (The State of Retail, Jan. 2016 – Time Trade).
- Train staff to act as personal shoppers.
Customers said they wanted prompt service, a personalized experience and smart recommendations. This presents a huge opportunity to train staff to act as personal shoppers who promote your brand while interacting with customers. The first step is having knowledgeable staff. Once your staff is educated and confident, teach them how to look for opportunities to add value to a shopper’s experience. Encourage them to share their knowledge with customers and offer recommendations. Have them show a customer to a new display or tell them about a new product that just hit the shelves.
- Invest in interactive displays and new technology.
Sometimes you don’t have the number of employees needed to interact with every customer that walks into a retail store – most brands don’t. That’s where interactive displays and new technologies, such as Beacons, come into play. Utilize displays to your advantage, allowing customers to search for your products at a branded kiosk or flip through an electronic ‘look book’ for inspiration. Use Beacon Technology to notify customers of current sales or direct them to new products in the store.
- Create a seamless brand experience
You have to make shopping with your brand easy and seamless if you want to keep customers engaged. This means treating your brick and mortar store, as well as your e-commerce store/website, with equal value and investment. If a customer is shopping online, there is a good chance they will choose to visit a local store to “touch and feel” the product before deciding to buy.
Consumers prefer to purchase items in-store: If an item is available online or in a nearby store, 71% of respondents will buy the product in the store (a 6% increase from last year), 27% of respondents choose to buy the item online and only 3% choose to buy the item on their mobile device.” (The State of Retail, Jan. 2016 – Time Trade).
Make sure your prices are consistent and that the look and feel of the website matches the look and feel that customers experience in-store. If you want to read about this topic in depth, check out this blog post.
With the increased demand that customers place on brands, it takes creativity, research, and planning to make customers fall in love with your brand. Once you start implementing some of the strategies above, you will be able to measure the results: increased sales and more satisfied, loyal customers.
If you’re having a tough time coming up with a plan of action, don’t get discouraged! BDS offers a wide range of retail marketing services to assist you in implementing the strategies discussed in this article. Contact us to learn how we can represent your brand at retail.