Retailers striving to understand customers, survey finds
Retailers are now focusing on better understanding the customer and aligning their business strategy to that customer, and then designing the necessary processes, technology, operations, and organisation around that strategy, according to retail management consulting firm LakeWest Group.
The company's 7th Annual POS Benchmarking Survey (of the top 100 speciality retailers in the USA) suggested that, by meeting and exceeding the customer's current and future expectations, retailers can establish the foundation for true customer loyalty. In understanding the customer and their purchasing patterns across all channels, retailers can also predict future shopping patterns to create and maintain this valuable customer.
Customer intimacy The company calls this process "customer intimacy", which builds on daily interactions with the customer to create lasting relationships. According to Robert Antall, CEO for LakeWest Group, "Creating these strong customer relationships builds brand loyalty and helps to create and keeps valuable customers. Understanding the customer and creating a business strategy based on the customer's current and future expectations is necessary to compete in the competitive retail environment."
In the survey, respondents said they are focusing on offering ancillary services to improve the customer's shopping experience. Nearly two-thirds said they currently offer customers special-order options, in addition to more than half realising the benefits of offering loyalty programmes.
Store management technology In addition to offering customers extra services, retailers are employing various applications to assist in the management of store employees, tasks, and payroll budget, all of which can help to enhance the customer's in-store experience. Nearly two-thirds of the respondents currently use labour scheduling and workforce management tools to better manage human resources, and nearly one-quarter use store execution management tools to help prioritise tasks in-store.
The study also noted that the foundation for the success of such applications lies in the infrastructure at the store level. Nearly one-third of the retailers said they plan to replace hardware and software in the next two years, and nearly one-quarter of the retailers said they will upgrade their connectivity.