The State of Retail – 2016

 

by Ann Arnold

 

I recently was forwarded the results of a survey conducted by Time Trade (www.timetrade.com) titled, “The State of Retail – 2016”.  A comprehensive report, this group surveyed 5,444 consumers, asking in depth questions regarding their perceptions and behaviors around retail shopping.

 

Some of the key takeaways were very interesting, but the overall message was very clear:
“Consumers still look to the in store experience to make a final purchasing decision, except now their expectation for customer service is set even higher”.
Here is a summary from their report on some of their key findings:

  • Consumers still look to the in-store experience: 72% plan to shop in stores as much as they did last year and 18% report they expect to shop in stores more than last year
  • Consumers like to touch and feel things: 85% of consumers report they like to shop in stores because they want to “touch and feel the products” before making final purchasing decisions
  • Prompt service is what consumers value most: Consumers rank prompt service, personalized service and smart recommendations as what they value most when shopping in a retail store
  • Consumers prefer to purchase items in-store: If an item is available online or in a nearby store, 71% of respondents will buy the product in the store (a 6% increase from last year), 27% of respondents choose to buy the item online and only 3% choose to buy the item on their mobile device
  • Retail decision makers look to social marketing: Retail decision makers indicate they are looking to marketing campaigns through social (79%), special in-store events such as sales (74%) and mobile ads (54%) to drive in-store traffic
  • Consumers are willing to book an appointment with their retailer: 59% of consumers would schedule an in-store appointment (from any device) with a store associate at a time that is most convenient for them
And one of the most interesting findings of this study:
Consumers would like it if a jeweler knew their preferences ahead of time!81% report if they were making an important purchase such as an engagement ring, they would like it if the jeweler was expecting them and knew their preferences (such as budget, ring shape, etc.)
So what does this mean for jewelry retailers, and the vendors they work with?

 

For the retailers, we need to ask ourselves some very simple, yet important questions:
1. Is every customer walking into my store getting the right experience? 

a. Are they greeted when they first walk in?

 

b. Is my staff knowledgeable enough about all the different products and price points we carry, as well as all the services we are able to provide, to make sure that we can understand, address and meet the needs of our clients?

 

c. How can I make the in store experience the best it can be?

 

2. Do I regularly train my staff about the products and lines we carry, all that each vendor is capable of, as well as all the services that our store can provide?

 

3. Do I regularly train my staff to make sure they are up to date on all the current issues in the industry so that they can answer questions they may be asked in an intelligent and correct manner?

 

4. Am I making it easy for my customers to work with me?  Can they set up appointments with us online or on their mobile device? How well do I know them before they walk into the door?

 

For vendors that work with the independent retailer:

1. What training material and in store training do you provide to your retail partners?

2. Are you able to help drive traffic to your retail outlets?  How can you make sure that the image and message you want to convey is conveyed properly?

3. How closely are you working with your retailers?  Is it only about selling more “stuff” or do you understand their business and clientele and tailor your product offering to what works in their stores?

 

There is a lot we can do, and still need to do. The first step, however,is recognizing the fact that we need to do it. The year is just beginning . . . what can you do to implement a successful customer experience plan?