Despite the convenience of online shopping, recent research shows that three quarters of people still prefer to shop in store. But bricks and mortar retailers must be savvy with omnichannel technology to survive in the digital age, we have 12 customer retention tactics to show you how it’s done.
Although the rapid growth of e-commerce has significantly reduced footfall to the high street, recent research from ONS showed that three-quarters of customers still prefer to make a purchase in a store. With 82% of these saying this is because they prefer to receive the product as soon as they’ve purchased it and because they value the input of staff, particularly when it comes to making major purchases. As well as this, 90% of UK shoppers stated they’ll always research a product online before going into a store to purchase it.
Retailers which embrace technology to track their customers across the whole customer experience, have a strong strategy in place for building customer loyalty, meaning satisfied customers, glowing word-of-mouth referrals and open doors for years to come. But with increased competition vying for each and every shopper’s attention, it is also vital that you implement customer retention tactics to ensure that you do more than simply sell stock.
Here are 12 customer retention tactics that will lead to increased sales and long-term success:
CUSTOMER RETENTION TACTIC 1
Provide Exceptional Customer Service
While online transactions can reduce waiting times and increase customer expectations, it is up to bricks and mortar retailers to do what computers can’t – to make service personal, meaningful, and worth coming back for. It’s an invaluable customer retention tactic.
If you’re not bowling your customers over with good, friendly and knowledgeable staff who can answer queries in an instant and make each transaction easy, you are throwing money away. Research shows that 66% of customers are willing to pay more if it means receiving excellent customer service and just about as many will walk out the door if service is poor.
CUSTOMER RETENTION TACTIC 2
Think about the Customer Experience
When it comes to customer retention, your retail space and how you use it to attract, support and meet your customers needs is just as important as your team.
Use your walls with informative and creative displays to position your establishment as an expert in your retail field. How each business uses this customer retention tactic varies greatly, but the experience that you create should be unique to your brand and be appropriate for your customers.
You should also regularly update and rotate your stock, this will entice customers back to see what’s new in your store. It is important to invest in a quality inventory management system, so that it’s easy to keep on top of your stock levels and that popular items are re-ordered automatically. If you always have what a customer needs and a system is in place to make sure that you don’t run out, your customers will trust you.
CUSTOMER RETENTION TACTIC 3
Try to eliminate any pain points
The best customer retention strategies reduce the pain points for customers, such as the frustration of stock being “only available online” or unwelcome difficulties at checkout.
Online sales that aren’t integrated with stores can be another potential customer roadblock. There can be many reasons why people may not want a product delivered to their home, offering on-site pick-up means they know someone will be there to receive the item and they’ll have a relationship with the business from which they made the purchase. Free in-store pick-up is also easy to execute and doesn’t cost anything to implement.
If delivery costs are a challenge, you could introduce a minimum purchase price that offsets free delivery or offer free delivery during peak seasonal periods. You also need to look at whether or not there are challenges within the layout or operation of your business. Your checkout area should be the most approachable and easiest to navigate area in your store. Customers who feel comfortable approaching the front of the store are far more likely to strike up a conversation or learn more about your products. This means that your store becomes a place to build relationships with customers, rather than just make transactions.
CUSTOMER RETENTION TACTIC 4
Ensure that your team are knowledgeable
Customers want and expect to talk to a salesperson who can give sound advice and an expert opinion. In fact, customers are more likely to return to your store if they think of you and your staff as the experts who can solve a problem or instantly meet their needs.
When you’re hiring staff, look for people with really good listening skills and a friendly and energetic personality, who understand that relationship-building is key. Good listeners are more likely to ask the right questions and channel meaningful feedback to management to address any issues.
Coupled with ongoing training, staff who have good social skills will ensure that customers feel valued, comfortable and ready to return.
CUSTOMER RETENTION TACTIC 5
Engage with your customers
If you have a new product or service, if applicable you could offer demonstrations that give customers a chance to see how works and to show off its benefits.
Get your staff into the habit of asking questions about customer likes and checking customer sales history in your EPoS system. This way, they can tailor product recommendations accordingly.
Most importantly, be open to receiving feedback, in fact, you should be asking for it! This could be as simple as inviting customers to review you on Google, Trustpilot or Feefo. Be prepared for complaints with a customer service plan, so your staff know exactly how to turn unhappy customers into happy ones. Make it clear that you not only value customer input but actively use it to make your services better.
CUSTOMER RETENTION TACTIC 6
Go above and beyond
Can you remember the last time a retailer went out of their way to help you? Proactive businesses make relationship building and problem solving their priority. Forming relationships with customers does ensure repeat business. Encourage your staff to listen to and observe customers, then act based on customer feedback, that could be fixing a problem immediately or looking for a solution for a customer.
Since many bricks and mortar stores also have an online presence, make sure that your support channels all work together to incorporate and respond to feedback.
CUSTOMER RETENTION TACTIC 7
It’s the little things that can set you apart
When customers have a lot of options, it’s the little things that set you apart from your competitors.
Things like a handwritten thank you note for new or repeat clients or small gifts and samples to let your customers know how much you appreciate their business. These gestures also make great word-of-mouth stories that bring customers in.
CUSTOMER RETENTION TACTIC 8
Get creative with your offers
You could bridge the gap between your online platforms and your retail space by offering ‘secret sales’ for your social media followers and use this to entice them back in to your store.
You could even try using beacons – push notifications for mobile phone users – that send customers in your area special deals. This could be digital coupons, details about time-specific sales or free parking for their shopping trip. Make it clear to customers who come into your store that they’ll be rewarded for shopping with you.
CUSTOMER RETENTION TACTIC 9
Turn existing customers into ‘brand advocates’
Word of mouth referrals can account for as much as 13 percent of a bricks and mortar business. But how do you go from happy repeat customers to achieving glowing recommendations from them which generates new business?
You can drive word of mouth business by turning existing customers into ‘brand advocates’, individuals that you cultivate to promote your business through word of mouth and online. These are your star customers, the people who will recommend you to their friends and provide you with social proof online.
While brand advocates are often credited as a way to bring in new business, treating your advocates well with incentives such as discounts and gifts, shows that you genuinely value them as repeat customers.
CUSTOMER RETENTION TACTIC 10
Reward Loyal Customers
To take the old 80/20 adage that 80 percent of your profits come from 20 percent of your customers. Once you identify who that 20 percent are, then you should reward them.
Rewarding customers with further discounts can drive overall sales. Even more importantly, your reward system doesn’t have to be complicated for customers to feel valued. Whether you offer a free coffee for every ten that a customer buys or a 10% discount for referring a friend, you should make it easy for your best customers to benefit.
The easier it is for customers to join your rewards scheme, the easier it is for you to track their progress and the more likely you are to retain their loyalty and their business.
CUSTOMER RETENTION TACTIC 11
Reconnect with lost customers
Research shows that you have a 20 to 40 percent chance of winning back a previous customer compared to a mere 5 to 20 percent chance of converting a prospect into a new customer.
You could hold a preview evening, a tasting event or a product launch and invite your mailing list along, you might even offer a discount to shoppers who attend.
Your customers sometimes need a reminder about what makes you the place to shop. By increasing your messaging on social media channels or through email follow-ups, you can regain older customers that might have fallen off the radar.
CUSTOMER RETENTION TACTIC 12
Deliver a seamless online and instore experience
Bricks and mortar retail stores and online stores are no longer separate spaces, they work together to provide a single customer experience.
Offering free online shipping for items not in stock at your location or in-store pickup for online ordering are great customer retention tactics that blend the best of both worlds. These strategies get customers back in the door while providing streamlined service and convenience.
Integrating mobile shopping into your bricks and mortar establishment can help bridge the gap between online and in-person sales. For example, retail stores can roll out loyalty barcodes for mobile users. Customers then receive discounts at the register just for showing their phone screens.
By meeting these customers where they’re at in that particular moment, will make it more likely for them to continue making a purchase in-store or online.
As e-commerce sales continue to trend upward, it’s important to develop a 360-degree view of your business. The better your online and bricks and mortar services work together, the easier it will be to look after and retain your customers. Whether they walk in off the street or find you through a mobile or online search, your customers deserve and expect the best.
These customer retention tactics are highly effective and provide tried and tested ways of developing relationships with customers, encouraging them to come back to you time and time again.