Ways That Retailers Are Leaving Money on the Table

While retail has never been as competitive as it is today there have also never been so many opportunities to increase conversions, boost customer loyalty, and create a unique and pleasing in-store customer experience.

Before you seek out completely new avenues to help your business, take a look over your shoulder and consider existing factors that may be causing you to lose out on potential profit.

1. Poor Customer Service

Poor customer service is usually associated with lazy, apathetic, or downright rude sales associates. While there’s no doubt that these qualities represent poor customer service, it’s likely that there is more that you or your staff can be doing to deliver better customer service.

Train Associates to Read the Customer

Your associates do not need to know your customers personally in order to reach out and connect with them. A smile and a greeting can go a long way in creating a welcoming atmosphere, and asking customers what they are looking for and for what occasion can help the associate get a sense of who the customer is and how they can help them.

Imagine if your associates did “know” your customer. With advancements in today’s retail technology, your associate can learn a customer’s name, demographic information, and past purchase history so that he or she can make intuitive product suggestions that make sense for that unique individual.

Start Upselling and Cross-Selling

There are so many missed opportunities in retail because associates are not upselling or cross-selling. Associates can:

  • Suggest relevant products
  • Recommend accessories or complementary pieces
  • Share information about special offers
  • Compliment the customer on their items choice or fit

Communicate with Your Existing Customers

Customer retention strategies are critical in continuing sales and building your brand. Provide these customers with exclusive offers and send out personalized emails segmented based on previous purchases or demographic information so that your associates can make better recommendations.

2. Long Waits for Service

Recent TimeTrade surveys across various industries—including retail—revealed that the average person is not going to wait more than ten minutes for service. Anything longer than ten minutes translates into a poor customer experience and a loss of revenue for your brand.

Retailers often acknowledge that there are long wait times for change rooms or for customers to receive help from sales associates. The problem is that companies simply do not have the budget to afford having an extra person or two during a shift.

One way to improve wait times is to take advantage of what today’s retail technologies have to offer. By using the right technologies for your business, such as a queue management system or self-service tools, you can ease those lengthy customer wait times and improve your bottom line.

3. Failure to Efficiently Service Customers in Fitting Rooms

A customer who is already willing to try on a piece of clothing from your store is one who is fairly committed to buying something from your shop. The more customers you have entering your fitting rooms, the more likely you’ll have customers leaving the store with a purchase.

But the problem retailers face with regard to the fitting room is often twofold:

  1. Associates are usually not doing enough to make sure that the customer gets into a fitting room.
    Associates should be trained to start chatting with customers about trying clothing on in the fitting room as soon as possible while also encouraging customers to ask them for help. Once a customer is in a room, it’s important that the associate continue his or her relationship with the customer by finding them additionally requested sizes, colors, or styles.
  2. The fitting room is not suitable for your customer.
    The fitting room is where your customers are making most of their purchasing decisions. Because it is a small enclosed space and because the customer may be partially undressed, it is difficult for he or she to leave to find new products if the ones they came in to try on were not the right fit.

When properly designed, however, the fitting room itself can increase conversions and customer loyalty. Make it easy for customers and associates to contact one another through a “help” or “call” button so that both parties can check in and ask questions throughout the “trying on” process.

Make Data-Driven Decisions for Your Business

Uncovering opportunities to capitalize on what you already have is easier said than done. Without knowing where improvements can and should be made, you may be wasting your time and hard earned business capital.

A retail strategy should only be changed if you have the data to back those changes up. With the right metrics, you will know exactly why you are suffering from poor customer service, extended wait times, and sub-par conversions, and can truly do something about it.

Are You Making This In-Store Experience Mistake?

This brief interview with Alert Tech’s CEO Marge Laney highlights how most apparel retailers are focusing on the wrong thing when it comes to customer experience.

Marge shares what retailers really should be looking at if they want to prioritize profits.

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The Power of the Customer’s Journey (& How You Can Use it to Fix Your Fitting Rooms)

How intimately familiar are you with your customer’s journey? Do you know what brings your customer into your store? Do you know what happens while she’s in your store to make or break her decision to buy from you? What about after she leaves – what can you do to help ensure she doesn’t return her purchase?

An analysis of your customer’s journey can leave you with valuable insights into areas of weakness/opportunity.

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How to Use Technology to Surprise and Delight Your Customers

As a retailer, you’re well aware of the importance of customer service. Exceptional customer service has the ability to surprise and delight customers and improve your bottom line.

With supportive technology, you can not only surprise and delight your customers, but provide qualitative measures of customer service, so that your team can make adjustments as needed.

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Just How Important is Human Touch in the Shopping Journey

A new survey released by Mindtree challenges the idea that most shoppers do not like to be disturbed by sales associates, and highlights the power of human touch to boost sales (view the full infographic here).

With the growing importance of eCommerce, it’s easy to lose sight of the one thing every sale has in common: people. And people really do like to buy from other people. Not long ago, brick and mortar retailers were casting glances over their shoulders, worried about what the rise of online shopping would mean for their sales. It turns out some of those fears were unfounded as the majority of shoppers still prefer to do their shopping in the store.

Read on to learn more about how the human touch helps to turn shoppers into customers.

The Human Touch Matters to Shoppers

Personal interaction is one of the most effective ways to encourage a shopper to become a customer. One needs to look no further than the results of Mindtree’s 2016 shopper survey for confirmation. The study found that:

  • 70% of shoppers want to interact with sales associates;
  • 34% of customers sourced information from sales associates, and 28% asked associates about offers and discounts;
  • Sales associates are a close second to websites and online reviews as sources of customer information;
  • 40% of shoppers decide to make a purchase following a positive interaction with a sales associate, versus 28% who make a purchase without any interaction.

When it comes to making a purchase decision in the store, the value of personal interaction with a member of your team is undeniable. However, the same study observed that 40% of shoppers say they are “never able to find a sales associate” when they want assistance. Clearly, there is some room for improvement when it comes to meeting shoppers’ expectations!

What Does this Mean to Retailers?

In-store sales and human touch boost the bottom line for a few reasons:

  1. Cross-sell and upselling: A sophisticated algorithm can make recommendations based on what’s in an online shopper’s cart, but it can’t make judgments based on what the customer is wearing, or register their look of delight or disgust at suggested items. An in-person connection with a sales associate lends itself to unparalleled upsell and cross-selling opportunities.
  2. Increased sales, decreased returns: Customers who have had the chance to touch and try on merchandise are more confident in their choices. As an example, let’s look at apparel shoppers. When they’ve interacted with a sales associate in the fitting room, shoppers are three times as likely to buy products from that store, and their return rates are dramatically lower.
  3. Associates can do their job even better when supported by technology: When sales associates are empowered to do their job with helpful technology, the benefits of in-person interaction can be significantly enhanced. For example, fitting room call buttons allow sales associates help customers in the fitting room on the customers’ schedule – without disruptive and ineffective door-knocking.

As it turns out, there really is no substitute for the hands-on nature of personal service. This is an area where traditional retail stores continue to maintain an edge over eCommerce.

The Human Touch Contributes to Retail Success

The majority of shoppers want to interact with associates, and shoppers who have this interaction are far more likely to make a purchase. Smart retailers will do all they can to ensure that when a shopper visits their store, that individual experiences a positive human connection.

Just How Important is Human Touch in the Shopping Journey

A new survey released by Mindtree challenges the idea that most shoppers do not like to be disturbed by sales associates, and reveals the highly positive influence sales associates have on shopper purchases.


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How Retail Associates Can Focus on Metrics and Win Big

How motivated and engaged are your associates? If a customer walks into a random store, what are the chances they will receive excellent customer service? Will they walk away having had a positive personal experience with your brand?

How do you begin to benchmark the quality of service, and what can you do to improve?

If you identify and focus on improving customer service metrics, you’ll improve not just your revenues, but the motivation and satisfaction of your associates. Here’s how both you and your store staff can win big.

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Maximizing Retail Customer Experience Using Metrics

This article originally appeared on FashionIsYourBusiness.com.

Brian Laney, VP of Sales for Alert Tech, a platform that specializes in call button systems, occupancy sensing and traffic analytics for retail, joins Pavan Bahl, Rob Sanchez and Marc Raco on the floor of the Innovation Center of the 2016 ECommerce Show USA in Atlanta, GA.
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