1. Get control over your whole businessDo you spend hours every month trying to make sense of your numbers? Is your staff unable to see which products are available in your other store locations? Do your managers have no idea what is going on in their store if they happen to be travelling? If you answered “yes” to these questions, chances are you are still using separate software solutions to manage the various parts of your business – front office, back office, e-commerce, stock, and so on. And chances are, your customer service is suffering from this disconnect. This is the time for a change. Give yourself a well-deserved new year’s gift, and implement a unified retail software solution that covers your whole business, front to back. You will save time, tons of paperwork, and spare your customers slow, ineffective service.
2. Speed up the queues at the tillThis is an easy one! Faster service at the register means more sales, happier customers and more time for your staff to spend on service. We have already discussed various ways to reduce queues at the tills. To find the right solution for your business, begin by analyzing the situation in your stores. Do long queues forms at peak times because there are too few cashiers available? Does your checkout system tend to get stuck or break down, slowing down the service? Pin-point the reason and find a solution. Your customers will thank you.
3. Boost and reward loyaltyIt costs between 5 and 25 times more to acquire a new customer than to sell to an existing one. Investing in growing repeat visits definitely pays off for businesses! And the most popular way to encourage loyalty is thorough a rewards program. If well executed, a loyalty program can bring you twofold benefits: more returning customers – and a better understanding of your customer base. Loyalty programs collect a wealth of data – your customers’ age, gender, product preferences, preferred hours for shopping… – which you should collect and use to create targeted promotions and personalized recommendations and communication. Be careful, though, when designing your program: not all loyalty programs are as effective…
4. Play the game of social mediaSocial media are here to stay. If you’re not yet active on the platforms where your customers are, this is the time to get social. Before you start (or get serious about it), keep in mind these 5 key rules of social:
- Be honest, friendly and approachable. Social media are not the place where you should sound distant or corporate.
- Be constant. If you start a page on a social media platform, you can’t just post when you feel like it. Have a strategy behind, publish content that is relevant to your audience and your image, and post frequently.
- Make it fun! Organize games, contests, sweepstakes. People look at your page in your spare time, to relax and have a laugh - make it worth it for them.
- Keep the communication channels open. Many consumers take their comments and complaints to social media – and ignoring them isn’t a smart strategy. As a matter of fact, 50 percent of consumers say they boycott brands that ignore their complaints on social media, according to a recent survey by Sprout Social. Always reply to fans comments and questions!
- Don’t be like them.
5. Go mobileMobile commerce (m-commerce) is growing much faster than e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retail combined, comScore reports. Business Insider estimates that by 2020 m-commerce will represent 45% of the whole online commerce market. If you are not yet catering for the growing number of mobile shoppers, this is the time to go mobile. Whether you plan to launch a mobile shopping app or build a responsive website, you need to make sure that your customers can browse your website and buy your wares from whichever device they choose. If you don’t, people will end up leaving you for a more mobile-friendly competitor.
6. Invest in your staffYour staff is more crucial than ever to the success of your stores. Today, customers can find all the products they want at low prices online. When people visit physical stores, they do it for the experience. This means that retail employees – knowledgeable, friendly, helpful employees – are more important than ever. According to respondents to PwC’s Total Retail Survey, having knowledgeable sales associates should be the number one focus for retailers who want to improve the in-store experience! To build sales talent, start by concentrating on:
- Engaging the staff in the brand and its ethos,
- Providing employees with in-depth training throughout their career,
- Equipping staff with in-store technology that helps them give customers the quick, smooth and exciting experiences they expect.
7. Ask for reviewsPeople love giving their opinion – and they value other people’s opinions about businesses and products, too. According to BrightLocal, in 2017 97 percent of consumers read online reviews for local businesses – and 85 percent of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations! Online reviews might perhaps frighten you, worry you, or annoy you; but trust us, they are not going to go away in the new year. So you might as well embrace them! Here are three key rules to follow when it comes to reviews:
- Encourage them. Create a dialogue with loyal customers and online communities of people who love your product, and prompt fans to leave a review.
- Highlight them. Don’t hesitate to promote reviewsthat make you look good.
- Respond. It’s important to thank customers who took the time to leave a review. What’s even more important is that you never ignore negative comments.Respond politely to unhappy customers, and make sure they feel heard (in other words, don’t be like them). Just by the act of answering a complaint you may be able to keep a customer: in a study from Maritz and Evolve24, 83 percent of people who had received a reply to a complaint considered themselves satisfied by the mere fact that they got a response – even when their problem had not been solved!
8. Be ready for the unexpected
With the pace of change constantly increasing, who knows what new trends will explode next year, or what new technology will pop up and transform the way we shop. Be open to unexpected innovations and be ready to start novel collaborations. Whatever you do, just remember to always keep your customers at the center. Technology is expensive; make sure that every system you implement is the right one for your goals, and that it will bring you a positive return, whether in terms of traffic, basket size, or revenue. If you need help figuring out which type of technology would best help your business, don’t hesitate to contact our retail experts. We at LS Retail wish you a happy and successful new year!