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How To Win Back Customers In the Store

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Crain’s ran an article last January citing the demise of consumer electronics sales in brick-and-mortar stores. One alarmist analyst at Wedbush Securities Inc. in Los Angeles went so far as to say, “The problem is that the internet has become so convenient that people just don't go to stores anymore.”

To say that this is just a simplistic overstatement is giving it too much credibility.

A consumer shopper survey done by Attack Marketing sheds new light on this retail environment. With a record $208 billion expected in overall sales in consumer electronics by year-end, technology retailers are poised for some great numbers.

Having been hurt by online price wars, the survey found areas in which Main Street can get a leg up on their ecommerce counterparts.

While better pricing is the top reason shoppers frequent websites, consumers are bringing greater expectations to in-store buying, like personalized product recommendations and comparisons, transparency in pricing, and really fast transactions.

What people cited as shortcomings for stores were problems in understaffing or an under-qualified workforce. Retailers need a responsive and agile alternative to counter understaffing during the critical holiday period.

What consumers seem to look for in electronics retailers is not the in-store deals, which accounted for only 21% of those surveyed, but “interaction with product” and “in-person help with functions/features,” which was cited by over 50% of the respondents.

If retailers don’t improve their in-store experience this holiday season, they’ll be missing out on a very lucrative segment of the buying population. A breakdown of Consumer Electronics shoppers who plan to shop in-store this holiday reveals that 47% of those people have household incomes of more than $100,000.

Other reasons that people are seriously considering in-store purchases are the ability to get help in-person in-store, and issues with online security.

The hidden costs of under-staffing or hiring unqualified workers is illustrated by these statistics: Up to 33% of retail shoppers abandon their shopping carts while in the store without making their intended purchase; abandoned in-store purchases result in an average of $125 lost per trip for the retailer; more than 73% of those abandoned carts resulted in consumers making their purchases with a different retailer, resulting in a lost sale and a lost customer.

It’s also another reason why Cyber Monday is gaining in popularity and numbers over Black Friday. While retailers may draw customers in by deeply discounting big-ticket items, the real draw is superior customer service and support. The survey also revealed that customers across all income brackets (from incomes of $25K to $150K) preferred personal sales support and product interaction over holiday deals.

The study further showed that the typical store-recruiting infrastructure behaves more reactively, looking for bodies instead of seeking qualified sales staff. Working with Retail Recruiting firms who can provide skilled and trained staff can boost revenue and prevent customers from leaving the store with the intent to spend money elsewhere. Such firms can also offer quick turn-around times, supplying knowledgeable employees who have been vetted as brand experts and are technology enthusiasts on their own.

A new consumer mentality in 2014 is giving rise to more thoughtful and careful shopping, and it’s a scenario that makes brick-and-mortar stores refreshingly stand out from online retailers. Retailers and manufacturers who respond to this trend for high-quality in-store support should see their bottom line increase over the holiday shopping season and beyond.

TAGS: retail, retail trends, retailers, holiday sales, staffing,
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