In retail, brand power is about more than being well liked. When surveyed, only 29% of customers have consistently high expectations of a retail brand they recently shopped, despite 75% of them saying it’s a brand they like. Low customer expectations across the sector means easy market penetration and customers more frequently switching brands. Companies like Amazon, Zappos and First Direct change expectations and therefore secure loyalty for the long run. How can retailers raise those expectations?
For retailers, the in-store experience is a key touchpoint that affects customer loyalty in the future. In-store impressions play a huge role in the customer experience, contributing to the goodwill a customer feels toward a brand.
Fostering a positive experience
ORC International’s Equity Framework study shows the interaction between the customers’ journey and their loyalty. Participants were asked to rate the experiences they have had with a brand on a series of topics designed to understand what fosters customer loyalty.
In-store experiences have a meaningful and lasting impression on the customers’ emotions towards the brand. These experiences dictate whether the customer will return to the same store again, whether or not they will spend more as well as whether or not they will go to another store of the same brand.
What makes a good in-store experience
Our research provides a clear path toward what makes up a good in-store experience.
- Store managers must focus on meeting customer expectations and promoting an enjoyable brand experience
- The store must be easy to navigate, and all of the merchandise must be accessible
- The overall store environment must be aesthetically pleasing
- Employees must be proactive with answers and assistance
Employees that are perceived to be proactive are the biggest and boldest driver for promoting goodwill. Our study found that only 47% of participants said staff treated them courteously, and just 39% believed that the retailer made it easy to get answers to questions or made an extra effort to be helpful. This means employees must be courteous and friendly and anticipate what the customer will need, rather than waiting to be asked.
There is no doubt that in-store impressions are a key driver of customer goodwill. Boosting customer emotions by providing an engaging in-store experience means tapping into what makes them feel a sense of loyalty toward the brand.
Customer research should help your store managers understand whether they are meeting customers’ expectations and providing an enjoyable experience. As an organisation ask yourselves:
- Have we identified the needs and expectations of the customers that come to our store?
- Have we communicated to employees how to create an engaging in-store experience?
- Do we have a regular check of how our in-store staff behaves?