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Invest in the right tech to offer customers the optimal retail experience

The online shopping revolution has fundamentally changed our expectations of what a good high street retail experience should be and nowadays we rightfully expect tailored, personalised service and bespoke shopping experiences. 
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What did Brits want from their high street retail experience over Christmas? Today’s consumers are more demanding than ever before.

Shoppers are expecting an increasingly efficient and personalised retail experience, augmented with targeted discounts and every possible payment tech option available to them.

We do know a lot more now about what British shoppers don’t like, with the latest research from First Data, revealing that long queues (42 per cent), loud Christmas music (13 per cent), not enough tills/service points (11 per cent) and stores that are too warm (ten per cent) are Brits’ top bugbears while shopping on the high street during the festive season.

The online shopping revolution has fundamentally changed our expectations of what a good high street retail experience should be and nowadays we rightfully expect tailored, personalised service and bespoke shopping experiences.

This means that retailers need to invest in the best technologies to ensure they are overcoming any of the biggest pain points mentioned above that might put customers off and stop them crossing the threshold of your stores this yuletide season.

How can independent businesses boost their appeal?

In First Data’s survey of 1,000 UK consumers, 21 per cent admitted they wouldn’t shop at independent retail stores during the festive period because they believe they are too busy.

Although, a third of respondents also said that if a retailer was using the right in-store technology to speed up queues, it would have tempted them to do more high street Christmas shopping.

Almost across the board, British consumers demanded better business tech over the Christmas shopping season than ever before. And if they didn’t get the optimal shopping or eating-out experience on the high street during the holiday season, they were unlikely to be returning customers or to spread the good word about their engagement with your business on social media.

All of which is why it’s vital that independents invest in the best business technologies to ensure that customers receive that speedy, personalised and enjoyable retail experience they will remember and tell their family, friends and social networks about.

From a better use of customer data to run cleverly targeted, well-timed discounts through to offering every single possible form of payment technology the customer might want, your customers’ retail experience must be seamless to set your business apart from the competition.

Retail turn-offs? Queues, noise and slow check-outs

Our survey results are crystal clear when it comes to what Brits biggest turn-offs are over the busy Christmas period. Overall, the survey highlights that most Brits found Christmas shopping to be quite a stressful time, which is why it is more essential than ever that independent retailers should listen to what they want and expect from their retail experience.

Otherwise, businesses are missing out on maximising their profitability at what should be their busiest time of the year. The retail Holy Grail is to offer shoppers a fast, hassle-free enjoyable retail experience that they find as convenient as possible.

Offer the best targeted discounts, ensure that there are no long queues in your stores and make sure that the payment mechanisms you have in place are smooth and easy to use, both for your staff and your customers. After all, making sure your staff are happy with the latest technologies you are using in store is also paramount to offering that optimal retail experience.

There are more shopping experiences than ever before online, on mobile and on the high street – which is also why it’s necessary for independent businesses to go above and beyond for their customers, offering a truly tailored, personalised service.

Importantly, SMEs need to understand that this type of personalised shopping experience is not the sole preserve or major national retail chains. And that, with the right tools, they can dig into customer data to offer an attractive personalised pathway for their customers. And, as a result, reap the rewards of customer growth and ongoing loyalty.

After all, the real allure of an independent retailer should be the fact that they are able to offer much more of a real personalised retail experience than a national chain. This is where SMEs have a major opportunity to shine over a Christmas season.

Notably, out of those survey respondents who like to shop at independents around Christmas (59 per cent), over half of them (52 per cent) stressed that it was this type of personalisation that was a key draw, with personalised discounts (32 per cent) and knowledgeable staff offering personal advice (16 per cent) both high on the agenda.

So, the message is clear. Invest in the right tech to keep your staff happy and your customers wanting to come back for more, because those SMEs that do go the extra mile to offer personalised service, well-targeted discounts and fast payment options are the ones that will reap the rewards.

Something to bear in mind for the next holiday season.

Russell Jones is VP at First Data


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