Last week we asked the question about purchasing timber online. It seems to be a mixed bag from the comments we’ve received back. Some people are totally for it, with one mentioning that he’d experiment at first with just a small order just to assess the quality and the returns policy for any damaged stock. Whilst others felt that the traditional ways of telephone ordering and visiting the timber yard would suffice.
So in this blog we thought we’d focus on what makes a good retail experience. With Mary Portas back on our screens trying to revive a flagging retail environment, should every “store” owner be assessing their own activities to ensure that they offer the optimum customer experience, regardless of their product and position. There’s nothing that says non-high street shops should deliver any lesser service levels than those at the forefront of the retail environment. It shouldn’t matter whether your buying the latest fashion or 20 metres of fence panels, you should still come away satisfied with your purchase and pleased with how your transaction has been handled.
It would appear that there are five key areas that contribute to a great shopping experience:
- Staff Engagement: being polite, genuinely caring and interested in helping, acknowledging and listening.
- Executional Excellence: explaining and advising in a patient manner, checking stock, helping to find products, having product knowledge and providing unexpected product quality.
- Brand Experience: exciting store design and atmosphere, consistently great product quality, making customers feel they’re special and that they always get the best deal.
- Expediting: being sensitive to customers’ time if there’s a queuing situation, being proactive in helping speed the shopping process.
- Problem Recovery: helping resolve and compensate for problems, upgrading quality and ensuring complete satisfaction.
In this day and age, retailers face a far greater struggle not just in attracting customers to their physical stores (rather than online) but also in keeping them there for longer and increasing the chances of making a sale. It’s not only that consumers have more technology on hand for shopping, but also that they have less time to shop in general. More often than not, a savvy shopper will have worked out what they want by checking on line prior to heading to the shop, and will make the actual shopping experience a quick dash in and out, rather than browsing the shop itself. From a consumer perspective, it may seem irrelevant whether you’re in the shop for five minutes or 30, as long as you make a purchase, but from a retailer’s perspective, the longer the customer is in your shop, the more likely they are to buy additional products that they might otherwise have overlooked.
Some suggestions to captivate the consumer audience are:-
- Adding in-store demonstrations and videos – free workshops to teach people how to use products are always well received, or even just running a DVD of a lesson or demonstration on a TV in store to create a learning environment.
- Engaging customers senses – offer free samples and let shoppers touch and interact with the products whenever possible.
- Improve customer service – sales personnel should be experts on the products they sell and even on the industry as a whole, and should be able to provide insight that the shopper wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere.
- Make the most of customer downtime – if the customer does have any “waiting around” to do, perhaps waiting for their chosen item to be sourced, then maximise these opportunities to inform waiting customers about other promotions.
- Catch them on their way out – offer vouchers and future discounts at the cash register along with the receipt, to encourage the customer to turn around and pick up an extra item or two or at the very least return within a specified period.
We’re constantly working on improving the customers experience when they visit us at Forestrall Timber & Fencing Merchants timber yard and we hope that everyone that does visit us goes away satisfied with their purchase and the level of customer service they receive. We’re pleased to be able to offer our clients the opportunity to purchase in person, over the phone on 01474 444150, via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or online at TimberClick or our online store with QDeck.