The retail ‘S’ factor

BY Australian Retailers Association
24 February 2019

How space, support, story and senses can all be bundled into an effective customer engagement strategy to foster brand love and loyalty.

Customer engagement is about encouraging your customers to immerse and share in the experiences you create for them as a brand. When executed well, a strong customer engagement strategy will foster brand love and loyalty.

Businesses that focus on customer engagement are focused on driving value. They give customers something meaningful. Something more than a sales pitch.

Here are four customer engagement strategies that can build a loyal customer following and deliver value for your brand.

1. Leverage the retail space

Spaces change the way we feel and behave, and can expand the brand experience milieu. Retailers should leverage the physical space to deliver local infusion, social opportunities and lateral activities as entertainment, relevant to the brand’s values, can deepen the consumer relationship.

Further, when executed well, an engaging space will lead to increased dwell. Increased dwell leads to increased profit. A 1% increase in time spent in store will lead to a 39% increase in sales per customer!

2. Exceptional customer service

Support staff humanise brand experience through empathy and tailored advice. Retailers should empower support staff to explain, suggest, share brand and product enthusiasm, and even advise beyond the transaction – like where to go for a good coffee.

The Apple Genius Bar is an example of exceptional customer service as it provides a personal side by side assistant, concierge style.

Support staff are crucial in retail as 68% of shoppers expect store associates to be experts on the products offered on the sales floor, and 75% of consumers say it’s absolutely critical or very important to interact with a salesperson who is available when they need them.

So, what investment are you putting in your front-line staff? Don’t forget, optimising your staff’s experience will revolutionise your customer’s experience.

3. Senses… something in the air

Sensory engagement adds depth and delight. The more senses, the more brain activation, the stronger your brand will stay in the customer’s mind. In a growing trend, retailers are adding subtle scents in-store for added brand recognition, longer browsing and a memorable experience.

Virgin Holiday Labs engage all the senses. For example, the floor is textured so customers can move from grass to water, the lighting changes throughout the day to reflect morning through to evening, and the stores pump specific fragrances to evoke the feeling of being on holiday.

4. Everyone loves a good story

Stories inspire. Retailers should seek opportunities to share their narrative with consumers and link their brand to their values in a meaningful way. Some retail brands including, LVMH, Gucci and Hermes are revealing their craftsmanship behind their products, while Nike requires employees to take a course on Nike’s heritage, history and culture so they can share the story to consumers when they start working for the brand.

Customers want to feel they belong to a brand. Sharing your narrative will help achieve this.

Mark is a Corporate Advisory Partner at BDO Australia with a diverse background in business development, corporate strategy, deal advisory, operations, digital, and finance. Throughout his career, Mark has developed a knack of combining emerging trends, business strategy and innovation to solve big problems. Learn more at bdo.com.au

 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Australian Retailers Association

Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association representing Australia’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. As the retail industry’s peak representative body, the ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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