Friday 16 November 2012

Don’t Expect Sympathy From Customers

The woes of retail are receiving much publicity as retailers, commentators, and politicians acknowledge that these are tough times for our industry. High profile retailers like Borders, Colorado and Darrell Lea have fallen by the wayside, but do consumers really care?

Sure, nobody likes to see job losses but consumers are in their strongest position for years as they become choosey about what they buy and who they buy from. They now have access to worldwide suppliers many of whom are falling over themselves to provide the prices and convenience that consumers could only dream of a few years ago. Consumers have become independant, almost cavalier and, if the media comments columns are any guide, they don’t have much sympathy for retailers.

How do we survive? By offering price, choice, convenience and service.

1.     Price – at times it seems that price is the only customer consideration but usually they just want to be sure they are not getting ripped off. Yes, there are some customers who just play the price game. But if you are in the ballpark on price, and you get the other things right, you can expect the sale. Be aware of what your market competitors, outside retailers, and online competition are offering.

2.     Choice – the better you are at meeting your customers needs the more likely it is that you will get the sale. Be prepared to go out of your way to get what they are seeking.

3.     Convenience – do you offer delivery? Will you take orders over the phone? Do you offer a packing service? Can they pay cash or card?

4.     Service – Will you go out of your way for your customer? For instance carry their purchase to the car, or hold their purchase at your stall until they finish shopping.

Finally, add a dash of personal care and we may all just prosper.
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Ed: "Just read a story about a US bookstore that finds their customer’s book even if it means facilitating a purchase from a rivals bookstore. Their customers keep coming back."