In the past week, I’ve read two separate articles regarding two very different national retail businesses in all sorts of trouble. One is having a massive closing down sale after going into voluntary administration and the other making record losses.
Both articles discussed various contributing factors to their downturn such as; the impact of online shopping, increasing running costs and international competition. When I saw the names of each of these troubled businesses, I realised there was another common theme, I’d had poor customer service experiences in both of them.
One of these businesses in particular, over the last decade I had seen a decline in service provided to customers in many of their stores throughout the country. A lack of staff on the shop floor, policies that weren’t customer friendly and service that was now almost non-existent.
The other store I’d been into on several occasions, each of which I recalled the staff busy chatting amongst themselves, ignoring customers and making it an unwelcoming place to visit. I’d therefore never actually purchased from the store, choosing to shop elsewhere.
That’s exactly what shoppers will do if you don’t give them a reason to shop with you. They will chose to go to a competitor or even shop online.
Online shopping is a growing challenge facing bricks and mortar stores. One of the major differentiators retailers have over online shopping, is the shopping experience they provide their customers with. Therefore, it’s vital this experience is a positive one otherwise, they may do nothing other than drive the customer to shop online.
The service experience is also a huge factor that sets stores apart. With similar products available at similar prices in numerous different stores, a business must give customers a valid reason to shop with them, rather than choosing the competition. Unfortunately however, too often customers are provided with reasons not to shop in a particular store.
When I read about profit loss, impending staff cuts and store closures, of course I feel sad at their demise however, I think back to shopping experiences in many of these retail stores and can recall nothing but disappointing, unsatisfactory and deterring experiences. You can’t expect to survive, if you are not winning and retaining customers.
A retail store relies on customers, they are what keep the doors open. The focus and priority therefore, must be customers and providing them with quality experiences. If they don’t, they too might be displaying ‘Closing Down’ signs and become another empty shop in the shopping centre.