What you need to know to find and keep your customer
Retail is changing and changing fast. Five years ago, the first item on this list would have been “location, location, location.” Today, the internet is with us at almost every moment, and our ability to get the products we want is constrained only by supply chain and the content of our wallets.
The challenge today is to stand out in a crowded field and to make an impression that will invite and sustain a positive customer relationship. Here are five principles to help you navigate the constantly evolving retail landscape.
- Bring the “omni” to omnichannel. Omnichannel simply means that your storefront, your online store, your social media, and your email and phone communications all talk to each other. Your channels should integrate seamlessly for your customer whether they are in your brick-and-mortar location or at home on their couch. They need to feel that their needs will be satisfied no matter where they are shopping. This can be achieved with integrated point of sale systems, a responsive web presence, and multichannel text and email communications. This keeps customer communication meaningful, no matter how they are communicating.
- Know your customers. Your customer is your most important asset. It’s time to get to know them and how to craft your messaging to reach them without narrowing your field. Surveys are no longer the only way to keep your finger on the pulse. By knowing your customer’s sales history, you can offer them products that match and enhance their lifestyles. And analytics from your own landing page and keyword research through Google and other companies can help you figure out how to reach your client-base more efficiently.
- Go the extra mile. Given a choice, people spend their money and time with companies that impress them with excellent service. Whether it’s in person, a text, or an online chat function, world-class customer service, wins customer approval and, over time, customer loyalty. If you can, deliver a little more than expected every time. Know your product, know your customer, and get in the habit of going beyond.
- Innovation matters. Innovation will take you from passively collecting customer information to connecting with them directly. Tools like integrated POS systems, interactive text messaging, and active social media teams outperform yesterday’s email lists and newsletters. The newest gadget won’t necessarily boost your business, but an awareness of new technologies and a willingness to use them are crucial. At a time when customers can take their dollars anywhere, innovation is important in nearly every aspect of your business.
- Know your Ps! Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. These are the foundations of retail. Of course, every retail endeavor needs a product that consumers want. Being knowledgeable about your product and how to deliver it to the customer is a must. Price is important, too, both to attract your customer and to provide you with a profit. An understanding of perceived value can help you find this balance when pricing products and services. In this omnichannel business environment, your place is everywhere! A robust internet presence and attentive customer service representatives bring your brand into living rooms that your brick and mortar can’t reach. Promotion helps with this, too. Well-placed ads, text campaigns, and social media management get your product in front of the customers you want.
Whether your business delivers products or services, the principles above can help you find and keep the customers you want. Being where your customers are, knowing what they want, and delivering it in a timely, friendly manner will win you the trust and loyalty that will sustain your business.