Retail differentiation: 5 tips for a prosperous Christmas
Although more than three-quarters (76.7%) of shoppers say they prefer to shop in-store, the majority (75.6%) feel that - despite shop windows bulging with tempting offers - the best bargains are to be found online instead, according to a survey of more than 5,000 UK consumers conducted by customer intelligence firm Retail Eyes.
Almost half (45.2%) of the shoppers surveyed confirmed that they prefer to shop in the traditional high street rather than at shopping malls or web-based retail stores. These same consumers said they prefer traditional high streets and town centres because they tend to offer a wider range of shops and character.
"It's clear that consumers still like to take part in the physical 'shopping experience'. But, with shoppers still being tempted to spend their money online - and with them believing this is where the best offers are - retailers need to look at what they can offer customers to entice them into physical stores," explained Tim Ogle, CEO for Retail Eyes.
"There's been little let-up in this tough retail climate and there's only so much retailers can do in terms of price reductions and promotions to offer customers a bargain," Ogle warned. "Retailers should be looking at other ways in which they can differentiate themselves on the high street. One such cost-effective way is by focusing on the experience and service they offer those customers."
Parking is often a source of frustration for consumers, whether it be on the high street or at shopping centres, as 80% of consumers confirmed that parking at shopping centres was very expensive and 45.8% said they would be put off visiting a shopping centre completely if there were bad or costly parking facilities.
Following the survey, Retail Eyes has compiled its '5 Top Tips for Retailers' in preparation for the Christmas shopping season:
- Stay calm at all times The busiest time of year for retailers is Christmas and having to deal with queues and frustrated customers is not an easy task. Inform staff to deal with aggressive behaviour from shoppers in a polite manner: stay calm, don't raise your voice and treat the customer with empathy and understanding. Generally, Britons are happy to queue up for something they value, and by communicating with them that their custom is valuable to you, you can make their experience a much more positive one.
- Think about the customer Don't let the mad Christmas rush take over from good service. An ideal starting point is to make sure every customer receives a simple warm welcome and a friendly farewell - it will really help attract and retain shoppers. Good manners cost nothing but a little bit of time, but can make all the difference in getting customers to return again and again. Retail Eyes' research shows that 9 out 10 customers have left an establishment before making an intended purchase if they get poor service - good manners really can have a direct impact on your bottom line.
- Put yourself in their shoes Christmas shopping can feel like a stampede sometimes. Make sure that all of your most popular and top selling items are easily visible and accessible in the store. By all means, play the classic Christmas music to keep staff and customers in the mood, but try to mix it up with more modern music to stop it becoming monotonous.
- Don't forget about the temporary staff You will be relying on temporary staff to make Christmas run as smoothly as possible. Treat temporary staff like any other employee and make sure they get all the training they need to ensure they understand the business and the level of customer care that is expected from them. You should expect the same standards of work from temporary staff as you would demand from permanent staff. Temporary workers are equally as important at projecting the image of your business as your regular employees so make sure they feel involved and valued.
- Use customer insight To maintain or improve the service you deliver, it's vital to get customer feedback. Only then can you be confident that you're meeting customer expectations and operating your business to the best standards. The experience customers have of your business is as crucial at Christmas as at any other time of year - just because they're in a rush, doesn't mean customer service will go unnoticed.