Over the weekend I was in the market for a new iron.
It’s a family appliance in constant use, so I jumped in the car and drove down to my local tech retailer. After browsing the shelves and reading a few reviews on my phone, I found one with all the bells and whistles – at a reasonable price.
But there was a problem…the online price was much lower than the price in-store. I saw that they did price matching, so I picked up the iron, took it to the till and queued patiently. When it was my turn I smiled, produced the iron and asked if the store could match the price online. The response? A resounding no…the sales assistant informed me that the store couldn’t match an online price (not even its own), only another bricks-and-mortar shop nearby.
The young assistant wasn’t sure what to do next, so he called his manager. A bell rang, a light came on and I heard a sigh from the customer behind me – leaving me a little embarrassed. Then the manager arrived simply to tell that my only option was to go home, order online, choose ‘click-to-collect’ and come back tomorrow.
I was in the shop, product and payment in hand, being asked to leave without making a purchase.
What happened next? I purchased the iron from a well-known online retailer and went to work in a creased shirt.
Is this really what the future of bricks-and-mortar retail looks like? Or do all retailers need to take stock of the fact that customers don’t see channels. They expect a consistent experience, regardless of how they come to you – including price.
Now I’m well aware that physical shops create much higher overheads. But when there’s a gap between the customer’s expectations, and the service on offer – loyalty is eroded. And the problem retailers face is that most customers won’t even complain, they’ll just not come back. I’ve read that for every customer who does complain, there are another 26 who remain silent, and that 91% of unhappy customers will not return to your business. So to learn where you’re losing customers, you need to look at your offering from the customer’s perspective.
It’s time to ditch your top down, channel view of retail, and focus on a bottom up, customer-focused omnichannel approach.
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About the author: As Director of Retail Industry Solutions at Zebra, Mark works closely with retailers and hospitality providers to provide input on how to face the challenge of a new retail landscape, where customers are often more connected and informed than shop floor staff.