Getting consumers’ attention is tough, winning their loyalty is tougher still. Chloe Rigby considers how the most successful retailers approach these key aspects of retail craft by constantly striving to be accessible, relevant and credible.
HOW DO RETAILERS and brands win loyalty from customers who have infinite choice? Whether from a smartphone on the train, from a store on the way to work, or from a desktop during office hours, today’s connected shoppers can buy whatever they want, wherever and whenever they like. Inspiration can come at any moment as they snap up a product that’s recommended through social media, prompted via email, or is simply needed – and right now.
In response, retailers must be accessible, relevant and credible to shoppers across multiple channels. These qualities, says Chris Dunn, operations director at website optimisation technology provider and InternetRetailing Knowledge Partner OneHydra, are crucial to being found in organic searches. And they are just as important in engaging customers on social media, through email marketing, and beyond.
Shoppers can only find a retailers or brands if they are accessible, whether the companies trade online or offline. In online searches, being accessible is all about making retail websites visible to search engines that crawl site pages and gather the information that ultimately provides searchers with results. The question is, says OneHydra’s Dunn, whether customers can open the door to the shop.
In addition, retailers need to be available to answer questions and complaints, through social media and other channels, including email and telephone. But as well as ensuring ecommerce websites are visible, the Top5 retailers in this Dimension make their brands available offline in a way that can ultimately boost online sales performance. John Lewis, for example, reaches well beyond
"Retailers need to be available to answer questions and complaints through social media and other channels."
its relatively modest estate of 46 stores. A click-and-collect partnership with its sister supermarket, Waitrose, is effective in raising its brand profile – in its latest full year, some 53% of online orders were click and collect, with a significant proportion picked up from Waitrose stores. When it opens a John Lewis store, it sees the effects in ecommerce and multichannel sales. “Online sales,” it said in its results statement for the year to the end of January 2016, “increase in catchment where we open a new shop.”
Perhaps that’s because John Lewis stores are now designed to inspire shoppers, becoming leisure destinations through attractions such as a spa (in Birmingham), rather than being venues for utilitarian shopping missions.
Conversely, Amazon has no UK stores but it reaches directly to the consumer, through collection points as diverse as local newsagents, Birmingham International Airport, and wherever the customer is.