Never has the voice of customers been so vital in making and breaking brands and retailers, than it is today. Facilitated through social media and technology, word of mouth can now spread faster than ever before. There are enormous opportunities for brands and companies to optimise the conversation with consumers, who are already in deep discussions with each other about their retail experiences.
This year, to develop the annual AMP Capital Shopping Centres’ Recommended Retail Practice Report, we put shoppers in the consulting seat. The research was conducted in an online forum to gather initial insights followed by a survey to validate the findings. We put shoppers in the consulting seat via an online Consumer Consulting Board on which they discussed their shopping preferences with fellow shoppers in real-time. Over 2,000 posts were shared in just two weeks.
This year’s research identified five key themes and recommendations for retailers: customer co-creation, consumer connections; consultants not cashiers; sensory store experiences and earning loyalty.
We’ve entered a co-creation generation, whereby shoppers want to provide input into, or customise, the experiences, services and products offered to them by their favourite brands and retail stores. More than 80% of shoppers are more likely to shop from a store that has involved them in developing new experiences, products or services.
•Provide opportunities for shoppers to customise and personalise products. For example, the Magnum Pleasure Pop-up Stores have been met with queues of excited customers around the world, allowing them to make their own Magnum with a choice of 18 different toppings
•Involve shoppers in creating their own in-store experience, including influence over the atmosphere, design or service provided. For example, General Pants lets customers add a song to the in-store music playlist via ipad kiosks.
One third (33%) of respondents stated that retail stores which connect them with like-minded people is an important motivation to return to that retailer. An example of this is lululemon’s in-store yoga and pilates classes, or Nike’s running clubs.
Want to know how to contact your customers?
•More than 86% of shoppers say they want to be given a choice in how and when they are contacted by retailers
•79% say email contact is the best form of communication from retailers
•61% do not welcome unexpected phone calls
•More than 34% of shoppers welcome text to mobile to inform them of sales
CONSULTANTS NOT CASHIERS
With an overwhelming amount of information now available to consumers, expectations on retail staff have shifted. The top five service factors that keep shoppers returning to a retail store are:
•A store that feels genuine and trustworthy (79%)
•Proactive customer service and assistance (70%)
•A store that surprises and delights through their service (64%)
•A store that is accessible both in store and online (59%)
•Unexpected in-store samples and gifts (58%)
SENSORY STORE EXPERIENCES
Nearly two-thirds of respondents want a sensory experience when they head in-store (59%). Touching and interacting with products was most important to shoppers (80%) and just over half of respondents (51%) named creative and inspirational store design an important factor to keep their interest.
•Give customers the opportunity to genuinely interact with your products without any pressure to buy, and demonstrate the product being made or used. For example, Nespresso stores’ have free coffee bars that allow shoppers to taste different products and see the machine in action
•Surprise and delight customers through unexpected experiences or special offers such as gifts, rewards or sampling. For example, The Body Shop includes free samples of products that their shoppers may want to trial and hosts VIP nights with special on-the-spot offers
The research found that loyalty cannot be earned through discounts, sales and reward points alone, with honesty, excellent service and passion also highly valued. Respondents cited the top six ways for brands and retailers to earn their loyalty as:
•Honesty, regardless of making the sale (83%)
•Regular discounts and sales (73%)
•Providing excellent service (67%)
•Unexpected rewards (54%)
•Points systems (43%)
Being passionate and authentic (35%)
•Use loyalty programs to make your customers feel truly valued; reward points and special offers continue to be highly regarded by shoppers. For example, Waitrose gives away a free hot drink to their loyalty card holders every day
•Earning loyalty goes beyond a loyalty card; initiate meaningful and helpful gestures, services and experiences. For example, lululemon writes shoppers’ names on the change room door so retail staff can address them personally during their time in-store
For the full report and recommendations visit www.ampcscresearchhub.com.au. The themes identified by shoppers have provided clear recommendations and we look forward to seeing how retailers will adopt and continue to evolve these trends to enhance the retail experience.
*Orignal Article: http://www.brw.com.au/p/business/tips_fund_standing_manages_whose_x9xGkTdJpsCDpag7MUAVTJ