The importance of creating a positive shopping experienceBY Zoe Thompson
The ever-changing digital market has resulted in a competitive marketplace for retailers. Whilst some customers shop for entertainment purposes, others find the task daunting and unpleasant. With the majority of customers nestled in the middle ground between pleasure and necessity, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) have developed strategies for retailers to implement into their business practices focusing on creating a positive shopping experience. The ARA are Australia’s largest retail association representing the country’s $310 billion-dollar sector. As the retail industry employs over 1.2 million people, the importance of educating employees in this area will assist retailers in generating customer satisfaction, repeat business and enhance corporate reputation and revenue. So how can retailers create a positive shopping experience?
There are a variation of ways retailers can approach the task. First, tailoring your services to individual needs can assist in ensuring the customer leaves your store with a memorable impression. For example, if a customer walks into a flower shop and is after flowers for her wedding, you could ask “When’s the big day?” or “What colour schemes have you chosen?”. By asking these questions, you are exhibiting care and understanding, whilst also gaining direct insight into what the customer is after and therefore eliminating unwanted possibilities. Let’s say the customer says “Well, my big day is in two weeks and my colour schemes are white and lavender accents”. The retailer can then offer different types of flower combinations based on her responses and has created a seamless personal experience for the customer. Although offering quality products, appropriate pricing policies and a pleasant store environment are important, it is service that distinguishes between a positive shopping experience to a mediocre one as service is vast becoming the way of the future.
The level of service your business offers can significantly impact a customer’s impression of your store. The ARA have examined the elements of a positive shopping experience including: selling as a service, finalising a sale and creating sales opportunities. Service is becoming the differentiating factor amongst competitive retailers, as premium service attracts customers. Retailers can improve on service by focusing on delivery, after sales and resolving customer complaints to ensure quality control, customer loyalty and satisfaction. Introducing appropriate products is also an important facet of any business. Recommending products and services to customers is an exciting element of the customer interaction and having a service mindset will assist retailers in achieving their service objectives. A service mindset includes: a positive attitude, showing interest in the customer and their needs, being available to assist customers, listening attentively and using open, positive body language and facial expressions.
Bunnings are the leading retailer in of home improvement and outdoor living products in Australia and New Zealand. With a recorded trading revenue of $7.2 billion in June 2012, Bunnings aim to align operational policies, procedures and practices with strategies for sales and services in accordance to their values. With competitor Masters Home Improvement opening its doors in 2011, Bunnings have focused on refining their customer service skills and strengthening community ties. By generating core values ranging from providing customers with quality products at a low price, engaging communities and recognising employees as the heart and soul of the business, Bunnings have established themselves as a competitive force in the home improvement market.
About The Australian Retailers Association
The ARA aims to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. The ARA is passionate about supporting careers in Australian retail industry and secure skilled staff to ensure the longevity of Australian Retail. By implementing these service strategies into your business, your business will thrive amongst digital and bricks and mortar competitors. Service is key to the future success of retail and therefore offering a positive experience will ensure customer satisfaction, loyalty and the longevity of your business. Visit www.retail.org.au
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Zoe is the Marketing and Communications Officer for the Australian Retailers Association