The evolution in recent years towards higher personnel costs, lower margins and increasingly stiff competition in the form of online retail has made it difficult to run a store.
If retailers want to continue to be profitable, they need to think and operate smart to earn their place.
But what defines smart store operations? And are physical stores making full use of their advantages?
Perfecting the customer experience
Untapped potential is overlooked. It doesn’t seem like stores have realized what their only real job is when it comes to operating profitably – which is to make every customer’s experience perfect, every time.
It is fair to say that every customer should be greeted in a friendly manner.
Yet there is so much variation, even from interactions at the same retailer.
The chart below is from a Maze client with over 125 stores and over 12,000 survey responses in less than six months.
The variation here is dramatic and can have a huge economic impact on sales. In order to learn from the best stores in your portfolio, you must:
- Collect sufficient volumes of factual customer feedback
- Use advanced analytics to determine top satisfaction drivers
- Allowing every store to focus on what matters most
- Give immediate access to an in-store app to learn from your customers
The ripple effect of a good CX
Good shopping experiences are essential for profitable operations.
When retailers create great customer experiences, customers spend a lot more money.
But it’s not the fact that customers are satisfied that drives them to spend more.
It’s the employee’s efforts that lead to a good experience that ripples into additional sales, higher conversion rates, and increased referral levels.
Positive experiences drive traffic
When thousands of shoppers are asked why they visit a particular store, it becomes clear how important previous positive experiences are.
The graph below shows that one in two customers say this is the main reason for their visit. Looking closely at the other reasons given, there is little the store manager or employees can do to affect them.
This diagram provides another important insight: a retailer’s primary traffic driver is their high-performing store colleagues.
The Nordic chain of garden centers Plantagen uses a customer relations application in its fleet of 120 stores. Through this, he has created what he calls the perfect in-store customer experience, improved conversion rate and increased his sales by £7 million.
Providing staff with actionable customer feedback has been a winning strategy for the company.
By actively providing customers with expert help and inspiration, Plantagen has boosted customer satisfaction and, consequently, the value of customers’ shopping carts.
This is a great example of how retailers can leverage the variations that exist in their stores and have a positive impact.
“Now we have daily customer feedback and can see how customers actually perceive their in-store experience and what can be improved. It has become an important part of staff development and business growth,” says Jørgen Lislerud, COO at Plantagen.
how to be better
Maze measures customer satisfaction daily at over 100 European retailers.
We constantly see the same trends everywhere; huge variations exist in customer experiences between stores of the same retailer.
The good news is that at almost every retailer, some stores are successful despite having a lot to do and high footfall.
These are the ones we need to learn from and here are the three questions we should ask ourselves:
- What are they doing differently?
- How can they succeed when others don’t succeed as well?
- What are the actual steps being taken that consistently work with what drives positive customer experiences?
This is the key to profitable in-store operations.
The challenge is to bring out this vision and support it so that it can be implemented everywhere.
Jim Nicholson is Maze’s Managing Director for the UK and Ireland