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There are countless ways to tell the toll that inflation has had on buyers (and retailers, by extension). While consumer spending on services increased in February 2022, spending on goods declined. 72% of American shoppers spend less on inflation.
While you might think it’s based on the first positive returns for the year, retailers should now stick to making sure they survive a likely inflation-related cooling period. Even before the recent acceleration, the consumer price index (CPI) was rising at unprecedented rates. Buyers only have so much money to spend, and the reality of retail will adapt to these trends, if the effects have not yet affected your organization.
We released our 2022 report on consumer behavior status precisely for times like these. It is crucial that retailers and consumers are on the same page, as the well-being of both parties depends on this. With our report, we identify several ideas that can help retailers better serve customers and position their organizations for long-term success, regardless of economic conditions. Among other discoveries, we found that consumers need more stellar experiences in stores than ever before. Continue below to see what we found:
Meeting no. 1: Positive in-store experiences are the key to brand loyalty
It is important to emphasize the importance of the experiences in the store. As many retailers know, brand loyalty seems more like a dream than a realistic possibility today. Retailers typically spend exorbitant sums on elaborate customer loyalty initiatives. However, we have found that 29% of buyers are switching brands today more often than ever.
Turns out that delivering consistently great in-store experiences is the clearest way to build customer loyalty. 55% of buyers have changed brands after one poor in-store experience. In contrast, 83% of shoppers are likely to return to your store after owning one bo in-store experience. The data couldn’t be clearer: in-store experiences have a direct impact on your brand’s results.
Related: The 6 essential in-store experiences that your customers want to see
Conclusion no. 2: Product selection and customer service define the in-store experience
Products and service are key elements of the in-store experience; this is no secret to retailers born before yesterday. However, organizations may lose sight of the extent to which the typical customer values the variety of products and customer service.
According to our findings, 31.9% of shoppers judge more in-store experience by the variety and availability of products displayed in a store. 26.4% of shoppers consider the quality of customer service to be more defined by the in-store experience.
The shortage of the supply chain has forced retailers to be smart in the way they purchase, store and display items. Strong inventory management systems have never been more important. In addition, McKinsey recommends buying and storing the most sought after items in the highest quantities, while trying to eliminate third parties from the supply chain as much as possible.
Some retailers may also not realize how much customers value great service. Some may also not realize the big difference between brands that make customer service a priority and those that lose the brand.
Brands like Tommy Bahama, Brighton, Nordstrom, WaWa and Bath & Body Works have left a memorable impression on service-minded shoppers. Clearly, these brands have inspired their employees to prioritize the customer and have positioned these employees to succeed.
WaWa is a good example of how technology can drive a buyer’s perception of positive customer service. Ordering WaWa’s beloved fresh food markets is a highly automated process, with shoppers able to select their orders using touch screens or the WaWa app. This allows employees to focus on the most important part: making the food consistent with the customer’s specifications.
Many retail brands are ripe for this automation. Because customers value the service highly, making self-service options available could provide the boost your brand seeks.
Related: How the customer experience is defining the success of any business
Meeting no. 3: Attractive in-store experiences are appealing to new customers
When we asked customers what it would take for them to try a new store, 21.7% said that “experiences designed to generate fun” would persuade them. The only popular answer to this was to “offer exclusive discounts at the store.”
Pennsylvania-based clothing brand United By Blue has differentiated itself by installing coffee shops in its stores, offering a local rate consistent with the brand’s clean living image. By offering shoppers the chance to have a drink or an entire meal during their shopping trip, or even regardless of shopping, United By Blue permeates an informal atmosphere that says “stay a while.”
Although you may not consider it a coffee shop the the most exciting experience in the store, is more than enough to win new customers who appreciate these touches. Considering a selection of similar products, as a buyer would you choose to shop at the store that offers a delicious coffee or slider, or one that doesn’t?
This is just one example of the many ways you can think outside the box to attract new and loyal businesses to your stores.
As consumer tastes change, many remain the same. Buyers still want what they’ve always wanted: fair prices, partners answering their questions and leading them to quality items and exciting new experiences. The way retailers fulfill those desires, however, has certainly changed.
Brands have ventured beyond the box, offering bold experiences and adopting new technologies to deliver the service and positive experiences that customers desire. With self-service kiosks and other tools that relieve the burden on employees, employers can assign new and exciting features of their store to their employees, such as the cafeteria, for example.
Organizations that continue to combine the latest technology with innovative approaches to marketing and services have a great opportunity to overcome even the most difficult economic times.
Related: We make custom: Using technology to enhance the customer experience in the store