Even though the pandemic continues to ravage the country and worker shortages abound, consumers are once again expected to be on the move this holiday season. Ready to escape once and for all from lockdown, they are poised to travel in record numbers and will likely be embarking on a collective spending spree in the process. As a business owner, what steps can you take to ensure that you are one step ahead of your competition as you seek to create the ultimate buying experience?
Make browsing and buying easy and fun.
Whether your store is brick-and-mortar, online, or both, one of your first priorities should be to pay attention to how your products are advertised and displayed. A dirty space or a cluttered website can lead to buyer confusion and frustration and, in many cases, will cause the customer to walk out or click away. For that reason, devote some time and care to figuring out how you are going to advertise and showcase your goods and services this busy shopping season.
For a physical shop, that will mean conducting research into what people want the most and placing these wares prominently. Alongside them can go supplementary or peripheral products that will enhance the buyer’s ultimate experience. Similarly, your website needs to be designed with easy navigation and clarity in mind. Make searching for products a breeze while simultaneously providing additional information about related wares. Do that and you are likely to see an uptick in your profits.
Reward your loyal customers.
Everyone appreciates being given incentives for being a regular buyer. That’s why customer loyalty programs have become ubiquitous throughout the retail sector. In fact, many shoppers are coming to expect to be given these extra benefits, so don’t leave your loyal guests out in the cold.
If you have upgraded your point of sale (POS) system in the past few years, it is most likely equipped with the capabilities you will need to set up and maintain a first-class customer loyalty program. All that is necessary is that you get your customers’ permission to store their contact information in a database. Once you have those details, you can use them to send out promotional emails and to shower your best patrons with points, discounts, and freebies that will incentivize them to visit your physical or online store this holiday season.
Offer safer ways to pay.
If your customers are coming to see you in person, at least some of them may have lingering concerns about their physical safety. Doing all you can to promote hygienic and socially-distant practices can endear you to your customers. When they see first-hand that you put their well-being first, they are more likely to do business in your store.
One of the most effective steps you can take to demonstrate this commitment is to add contactless credit card readers to your business model. These devices use near-field communication (NFC) technology to communicate with customers’ smartphones and wearables, enabling purchases to be made without any physical contact occurring between buyer and seller. The shopper simply needs to have set up a digital wallet with their payment information and then access the wallet at the point of purchase. Within seconds, all required information is relayed to the appropriate parties, identity and account balance are verified, and the payment is approved — all with top-tier security procedures in place.
Additionally, contactless credit card readers facilitate a fast check-out that minimizes customer frustration, making the entire buying experience immeasurably more positive. This combination of speed, safety, and security is a recipe that is sure to keep patrons coming back again and again. It may even inspire them to refer friends and family to your store as well.
Offer maximum payment flexibility.
Today’s buyers want choice not only in the products available to them but also in the ways they pay for them. If you upgrade your POS solution to accept all forms of payments, you’ll be more likely to capture additional dollars. Consider the many payment types available to today’s customers:
- Credit cards.
- Debit cards.
- Gift cards.
- Electronic checks (echecks), also known as automated clearing house or ACH payments. With these transactions, your customers’ payments can be automatically withdrawn from their bank account and transferred into yours.
- Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
- International currencies. If you do business online with customers from other countries, you will want to offer them the ability to pay using the monetary denomination they are familiar with.
Offering maximum purchasing flexibility, including the option of recurring payments and multicurrency conversion, lets your buyers know that you are committed to offering them as much convenience as possible.
Offer an omnichannel experience.
Today’s savvy businesses don’t rely on selling via only one avenue. Many have both physical and online stores, as well as a robust social media presence. They cater to their customers’ increasing preference to browse and shop using their tablets and mobile phones and consequently work hard to ensure that their websites and mobile apps are accessible and easy to use on all types of screens and devices.
Providing a multichannel approach for your customers means that your retail establishment is running on all cylinders. As a result, you can give consumers what they need whether they are seeing you in person, talking to you on the phone, or communicating online from around the corner or across the ocean.
Make customer service a top priority.
The modern shopping journey often starts with an investigative click, evolving through the browsing, selecting, and purchasing process. At any point, a potential customer can become disenchanted and abandon their purchase. However, top-tier customer service helps to ensure that shoppers never feel abandoned or short-changed no matter where they are in the buying process, including after the sale has been completed.
In an era when your competitors can come from anywhere in the world, you must make it your business to woo, cultivate, and keep customers. Transparency, including a clear shipping and returns procedure, goes a long way toward fostering long-term satisfaction.
Listen to buyer feedback.
One of the best ways to determine the future direction of your product selection is to go straight to the source: Your loyal customers. One of the best ways to do so is to leverage your social media presence. After someone makes a purchase, send them an email that encourages them to submit a review on your website or social media page. One of the best techniques to motivate people to do this is to offer them some sort of incentive such as a coupon or entries into a monthly drawing.
We have already discussed the value of recognizing your customers and making them feel special. Soliciting their opinions about their buying and product experience lets them know that you want to better serve them and that they are integral to the success and future of your retail store.
Today’s shoppers demand much more than a one-time transactional give-and-take. When you enhance the purchase and payment process and make it as safe and secure as possible, you are exhibiting your willingness to go the extra mile. You will then be rewarded with shoppers who become your best brand ambassadors, spreading the word about your retail store far and wide this season and beyond, which is indeed, something to be thankful for.