COVID-19 Impact on Retail
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on most industries, but retail has been especially hard hit. Without a crystal ball, it is difficult to tell which retailers will be here and which ones won’t when the dust settles. Media hype may influence how we think about this but the truth is, it is all speculation. No one but each individual retailer knows what is happening behind the scenes.
Every decade, retailers close who have been around for generations. Think about Rinks and Gold Circle (if you are old enough to remember those brands!). They were the “Target” of the 70’s. And yet somehow, they no longer exist. Video stores were a regular part of our Friday night life, and the only remembrance are vacant stores that still have the video sign up if the strip center hasn’t removed it! So retail closing isn’t new or unprecedented. As retailers, we have to own how our behavior plays into our ability to succeed or fail. That is the one component we have control over.
Focus on Post-Covid Customer Experience
Non-essential retail reopening is looming in the coming weeks. The most important thing you should be focused on is the post-covid Customer Experience in your store. When you read this, you may think I am going to talk about sterilization and cleaning, counting the number of people who walk in your store and enforcing ‘no mask, no service’ policies. There is enough out there about that, follow it and keep safety and health top priority.
Let’s get to the topic of this blog. There are 6 customer touch points to consider that store teams can really own. Master the experience in your store and be ready for happy customers.
The 6 customer touch points are:
- Entering / Browsing the Store
- Product Selection
- Buying Decision
- Cash Wrap
- Leaving the Store
- Wearing the Product
Let’s dig into each touch point and the associate behavior that impacts it.
Entering / Browsing the Store
This is about front windows, signage and floor set distortions. What is bringing the customer in and then how do they feel as they walk into the store? What does the engagement look / sound like? What do displays and fixtures look like? Are they compelling or dull? Empty or full? Neat or sloppy? Stand outside your store and look at your experience through your customers eyes.
How does the sales associate engage the customer on product they are looking at on the selling floor or trying on in the fitting room? Does the team engage with “are you finding what you need?” or something more compelling like sharing product knowledge or tips on how to use the product?
How does the team ask for the sale? Are they sharing product knowledge, features and benefits that might influence their buying decision? Are there discounts, loyalty programs, coupons that might encourage the customer to make a decision to buy? While these offers come from corporate, the store team owns communicating to the customers while they are shopping.
What does the experience at the POS look like? Does the associate affirm the customers buying decision and compliment their choices or even suggest something else without sounding “salesy”? Do they remind them about the next collection coming in and invite them to stop back? Perhaps add to their clienteling service? Is there a loyalty program or bounce back program to share with the customer?
Leave the Store
What happens when the customer leaves the store? Is there placed signage or an associate engagement that makes them happy they decided to shop in your store? Something as simple as :”we are so glad you stopped in today, please come back and see us, we have a new collection coming in next week”. If the customer leaves without a bag, does someone ask what they needed and didn’t find?
Wearing the Product
When the customer wears or uses the product they bought, will they be so happy, they tell the world about it on social media? Posting pictures or sharing the experience they had when they made the purchase? While your teams don’t have direction ownership over what the customer does when they leave the store, a really amazing experience when they are in the store (that you do own) just may influence this remaining behavior.
What we Control and What we Don’t
When the day is done, we can control how our teams respond to customers and the effort made to create unparalleled customer experiences, for every customer, every day.
Now it’s YOUR turn…
As you think about your store, I hope this has stimulated your thoughts on what the store team can get after to make the customer experience a great one in this post-covid world.
Head on over to the Resources Page on my website and download the Engagement at Every Customer Touchpoint document.
Check back to the site regularly for more content on maneuvering the challenges of retail post-covid.
Always in your corner,