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How to connect with customers in retail

The most successful enterprises understand how to connect with customers in retail.

Beyond simply meeting shopper expectations, top retailers take the time and effort to learn what individual customers want and need to deliver truly helpful in-store interactions. When your store perfectly meets the needs and perceptions of your client base, customers will feel confident buying from you and, over time, they will develop a strong emotional connection to your brand. It can happen overnight for some shoppers; for others, it may take a little more cultivation. Either way, it’s worth putting in the effort to gain brand affinity and continued sales. 

Customer Connection Matters

These days, 80% of customers say “experience” matters to them as much as “products” or “service.” Instead of thinking “B2C” or “B2B,” retailers must think “B2Me,” considering how they can make strides toward greater personalization and emotional connectedness with their individual constituents. 

The overwhelming majority of customers (84%) say that “being treated as a person, not a number” is very important to winning their business. They’re looking for a seamless journey between departments and channels, as well as contextualized engagements based on earlier interactions.

The payoff is big. According to a study by Motista of 100 brands and over 100,000 shoppers:

  • “Emotionally connected” customers have a 306% higher lifetime value than “satisfied” customers. 
  • Emotionally connected customers are likely to stick around five years or more, while satisfied customers are likely to disappear after 3.5. 
  • Apparel retailers saw the biggest gains. “Emotionally connected” clothes shoppers spent an average of $699 vs. the $275 of simply “satisfied” shoppers.

As Small Biz Daily summarizes the benefits: “emotionally connected” retailers perform better financially, enjoy greater price resilience, see more unplanned impulse buys, have more loyal customers, and are the recipients of free word-of-mouth advertising.  

How to Connect With Customers in Retail

Start with your staff. For retailers, nothing beats “good, caring and personal customer service on the shop floor.” Start by cultivating a strong staff culture that equips employees with the training they need to know the products inside and out; the technology needed to take accurate stock of inventory and personalize their recommendations to the individual; and the incentives they need to put their best foot forward.

Greet them. Lack of acknowledgment from store staff is one of the top three consumer complaints. They like the basic smile and eye contact, being able to find someone to talk to when they need one, and responsiveness to long checkout lines. To improve connectedness, train your staff to master the art of: 

  • small talk for the newbies (ex: “How are you enjoying your afternoon?”)
  • familiarity for the regulars (ex: “Coming in for another…?”)
  • commonality to build trust with second-time shoppers (ex: “I like your…”), and 
  • orientation for the “I’m just browsing” shopper (ex: “A basket to free up your hands?”) 

Make your store fresh. Salesforce research found three “shopper-first” mandates for all retailers who want to connect with consumers: make your store fresh, accessible, and meaningful. When 69% of shoppers walk through your doors, they first and foremost expect to see new, exciting merchandise. Since 59% of the top 5% best-selling products change from month to month, it makes sense to keep your stock rotating nicely. Uniqlo does this in their NYC locations by presenting different partnerships with MOMA, Disney, and Marvel, among others. Lacoste allows in-store shoppers the opportunity to “build their own shirt” by color, shirt style, logo, and custom monogramming. Similarly, American Girl offers “build your own doll” kiosks to create truly individualized products that cannot be purchased elsewhere. Puma collaborates with influencers like Rihanna and MAC cosmetics to cross-promote their way to double-digit growth. 

learn how to connect with customers in retailMake your store accessible. Expect consumers to begin their shopping trip on a digital channel; 87% of shoppers begin with mobile or web research. Seamless mobile performance is essential, whether through your mobile app or a mobile-friendly eCommerce site. Shoppers expect to be able to start their trip on a mobile device and complete the transaction in-store if they desire. Amazon lets shoppers swing back and forth between PC and mobile devices, keeping their shopping cart, wish lists, and account login consistent between the two channels. Keep in mind that “accessibility” means convenience to some, and expanded service offerings to others. Nordstrom caters to different types of shoppers by offering 24-hour self-service return kiosks and click-and-collect pickup lockers for the time-pressed, as well as on-site barbershops and speakeasies for the lingerers. While most people (71%) prefer to leave with products in hand, 82% are willing to have an item shipped to their homes next-day if you’re out of stock. Mobile checkout is an increasingly popular offering that alleviates checkout bottlenecks. 

Make your store meaningful. Strengthen your relationship with shoppers through personalization and loyalty initiatives. More than half of all shoppers (64%) feel like retailers “don’t truly understand them,” so there is much opportunity for improvement here. Leading with altruistic values still resonates with shoppers; nearly half of consumers (45%) say they would be more likely to purchase from a retailer donating some of the proceeds to charity.

Use Shopkick to Connect With Your Customers

Shopkick offers an easy way to personalize the shopping experience and reward shoppers at the same time. Shopkickers check in to the app upon entering your store, at which point they are greeted with personalized offers on how they can earn “kicks”, or rewards points, to put toward a free gift card. They might embark upon a fun treasure hunt, scanning product barcodes and making purchases through special offers. They might flip through lookbooks or watch short promotional videos to learn more about product offerings. 

Retailers can use Shopkick to drive foot traffic, guide shoppers to products at-shelf, and increase purchase likelihood in the moments that matter.

Retailers can use Shopkick to drive foot traffic, guide shoppers to products at-shelf, and increase purchase likelihood in the moments that matter. For example, Shopkick’s retail partners teamed up with Visa Decision Sciences to measure the incrementality of the Shopkick program. They wanted to know of the sales, transactions, and customers that Shopkick was driving and how many would not have occurred without the program. The results revealed that:

  • 57% of all sales driven by Shopkick were incremental, driven by both new and existing customers 
  • 55% of department store sales were incremental 
  • 49% of electronics/big box stores sales were incremental 
  • 67% of specialty store sales driven by Shopkick were incremental 

With so many ways to engage shoppers and create that coveted “connection,” Shopkick is a definitive win for mobile savvy retailers. 

Here at Shopkick, we’ve developed all the out-of-box technology you need to begin connecting with your customers quickly and easily. All shoppers need is their smartphones and the downloaded Shopkick app! See what we’ve done for our partners or contact us to learn more.

Image courtesy of Dean Drobot