Ryan Blumenthal is a third-generation retailer. He reads the tea leaves of the retail economy, retail trends, and ever-changing consumer behavior. In this column he talks about the perfect customer experience.
Q: You’ve been in retail your entire life. You’re also a consumer. So, what is the perfect customer experience?
A: That’s a good question, and because of my background I’m probably more critical than most.But I’ll tell you it starts with the first in-store visit. Attentive but not pushy sales associates. Experts on their products. Clean, organized store. And they have the product I’m looking for or know how to get it.
Most places will get this first part right. Customer walks away happy. But what most of us do is think twice about our purchase. So, follow-up is really important. A nice note that says something like: “That piece looked really wonderful on you. I bet your friends love it!” This reassurance goes a longways.
Q: And then you’re done. How do you get them to come back again?
A: They do want to come back, but you have to give them a reason to come back. So, if you did your homework the next time you communicate with them it will be about something they want. You have to make it personal to them.
To do this at scale with thousands of customers, you have to automate part of the process. It’s the only way to be twice as effective.
Q. What trends or changes are you seeing in terms of consumer behavior and buying habits?
A. Interestingly, 50% of customers say personalization based on their interests and past purchases has influenced their decision to purchase from a retailer over the last year.
Understanding why and when customers purchase allows you to tailor your marketing budget. But this kind of personalization is only possible through technology that allows you to manage customer data and scale customer communications.
Further, 81% of GenZ consumers say they prefer to shop in stores to discover new products. Now we know two things about today’s shopping environment. Customers want personalized recommendations, and they want to come to the store.
Q. Speaking of marketing, everyone is focused on acquiring new customers. That’s important, but how do you market to your existing customers?
A. Your marketing should start with a robust database of everybody who has walked in the store. Segment them by what they purchased, when the special dates in their lives are, and how often they shop. Using this data, you can personalize offers to them, invite them to the store for special sales, and maintain a top-of-mind relationship with them.
Got a question for Ryan? Comment on this post with your thoughts.