Is online shopping killing your business?
We have entered the initial phases of another economic downturn and as economic activity slows down and internet retailers capture more of the market, brick and mortar retailers are cutting their losses. How we shop has quite simply changed beyond recognition, shops are closing down rapidly and retailers are finding that there are some local communities that can no longer support them.
According to a study done by The Centre for Retail Research, the online retail sector is the main driver of growth in European and North American retailing, achieving in Europe growth rates of 18.4% (in 2014), 18.6% (2015) and expected rates in 2016 of 16.7% and in 2017, 15.7%. In comparison the annual growth rates for all types of retailing range between 1.5% and 3.5% pa.
Now, hands up how many of you purchased a product or service online in the last six months? In the last month? This week? Come on, don’t be shy? Of course you have. Me too. Of course me too, why wouldn’t I? Well, perhaps, because the internet is:
- Open 24h/7
- You can order from the comfort of your sofa
- Products and services are delivered to your door
- It’s often cheaper
- There’s more choice
- There’s no GST/VAT (for some!)
Last year, I went to a local shop to buy a tablet, I had checked it out and knew the price that it was online and thought I will compare it with the local market. I went to that specific shop, the assistant was amazing, he knew the product inside out, he showed me how it worked, he was genuinely interested in what I need edit for, guaranteed I could bring it back if it didn’t work with the app I needed it for and offered to set it up for me. The tablet was £20 more than I could have bought it for online, not much you would say, but still £20 more expensive. However, the assistant was so good, I bought it there and then, he had built such a rapport with me that I trusted that buying it from him was the best thing for me. I knew I could bring it back and he would look after me.
Do you think that I would have bought that tablet there if I hadn’t received such a great service?
No, of course, not.
If I had wandered around the shop and no one had approached me or tried to understand what I wanted, then I would have left the shop, having seen that it was £20 more expensive, gone home, made myself a nice cup of tea and bought it cheaper online. What would encourage local consumers to buy from our shops? What is the one reason you buy local? customer service… of course, customer service is the only differentiator between buying local or not.
Creating a service culture in your retail business with exceptional customer service means less complaints, less damaging social media comments, fewer negative reviews, reduced churn, more loyal customers which will result in more motivated staff and higher sales figures.
Here is the truth of the matter people want to come to your shop, they don’t want to buy from online, they don’t want to buy from big superstores with no personality, people want to buy from small retailers who genuinely care about them, they want to help the local community so let’s do this, let’s bring customers back to your shops so they can buy from you, return to you and recommend you.
The solution for all retailers is to deliver exceptional customer service consistently.
Mystery shopping and Customer Service specialist, Claire lives to inspire global businesses to thrive by delivering exceptional customer experiences in measuring and improving employees' performances.