Customers are the most important aspect of any retail business, and opting for a customer-first approach will only benefit the longevity of your business. But what is it, and how do you take a customer-first approach in retail?
At Displaysense, we’ll highlight how you can operate your business with your customers at the forefront and how this can benefit your retail store.
80% of customers say the experience provided by a company is just as important as the service or product provided by a business.
What is a customer-first approach?
In the retail world, a customer-first approach is running your business with your customers at the heart of everything you do. This means operating on a philosophy that makes customers feel appreciated and welcome in your business. Making customers feel like this can help gain a loyal customer base who are more likely to recommend you to others and return for repeat custom.
Ways to run a customer-first retail store
There are many ways that you can run your retail business with customers at the front and centre. We’ve highlighted some of the most successful ways you can do this for your store and how it can improve your business.
1. Target your audience
It is easier to put your customers first when you know who they are and what they want from you. By identifying your customers, you can take a targeted approach to your strategy and understand what they want from you concerning your services or products and how to excel. Conduct audience research to understand your target customer's age, interests and purchasing habits. You can do this through competitor research and analysing the customers who enter their store, spot how they engage with customers and improve on it for your business.
2. Ask customers what they want
Once you have established your customer, it is important to know their needs and how you can fulfil them. Customers typically fall into common types, and they all have different needs. You can read more about this in our guide on 5 Common Types of Customers & Their Different Needs to understand how to cater to different demands. Simply ask your customers in-store what they want to see from you and how you can improve your services. When you understand their needs, you can provide personalised recommendations and upsell them to customers. To learn more about how to upsell in retail, make sure to check out our guide.
3. Take care of your employees
When your employees are well looked after, they want to deliver great customer service and will have a passion for delivering your vision. Happy employees are more likely to interact with customers positively, and if they feel valued, this will translate into their attitude towards customers. This will create a relaxed atmosphere within your retail store, and customers will feel welcome and want to return.
4. Provide customer service training for your employees
Equipping your employees with the right knowledge to deliver an excellent customer service experience will set you apart from competitors. Provide training to your staff to ensure they know exactly how to approach customers, assess their needs and provide a solution.
5. Ask for customer feedback
Asking for customer feedback differs from asking your customers what they want. You can identify weaknesses and areas for improvement. Many retail stores ask for customer feedback and provide discount codes for those who take time to complete surveys. This will make customers feel valued and provide you with productive feedback for your business that you can use to improve your customer-first approach.
6. Make your customers feel valued
There are many ways for you to make your customers feel valued, including:
- Start a loyalty scheme with discounts
- Listen to feedback
- Provide insightful and personalised recommendations
- Offer quick responses (in-store and online)
- Create a warm and welcoming atmosphere in your store
- Engage in conversation with them
- Invite them to VIP in-store events for product launches/previews of new lines
7. Create an in-store experience
Some customers know what they want, and identifying areas in your retail store where they can find your products helps to eliminate stress. By adding signage and displays to your store, customers can clearly shop, making purchasing smoother and more efficient. Eliminating any stress and creating a welcoming in-store experience will show customers that you have pride in what you are selling, and they will want to spend time in your store and return. To give your retail space an upgrade, browse through the range of stylish display cabinets and display & merchandising equipment available.
8. Be prepared to adapt
One of the most well-known sayings in retail is, “the customer is always right”, and there is some truth in providing changes to fit customers' needs. Adapting your service or offering to customers and their needs will ensure that they are satisfied with your business, and as a result, they will more likely return. This must come with caution; ensure that you provide helpful feedback and recommendations, but not at the cost of margins and reputation.
9. Be transparent with your customers
Providing transparency with your customers is important when adopting a customer-first approach. Retail customers appreciate honesty, and if you don’t think you will be able to satisfy the needs of your customer, you should be honest with them and let them know early in the process. Make sure you deliver a polite and professional service and set the customer's expectations in a friendly way if you don’t think you can cater to their needs. This will build trust with your customer, and they will know any recommendations or services you can provide will be of value to them.