Vend’s Content Marketing Manager and Global Retail Commentator, Francesca Nicasio discusses the changing retail landscape and the importance of putting customer experience first.
As Vend’s Content Marketing Manager and Global Retail Commentator, I work remotely from Los Angeles, but maintain constant contact with the team in Auckland. That being said, on the handful of occasions that I’ve visited Newmarket, I can honestly say that this district embodies a lot of the things that I love about retail. Newmarket is filled with stores that are oozing with personality. Nearly every shop I visited had something remarkable. From well-curated assortments to attractive store designs, Newmarket’s retail scene is a feast for the senses.
But what truly stood out to me were the people in these retail stores. I may have been 10,490 kilometers away from LA, but the treatment and customer service I received from the majority of Newmarket retailers made me feel at home. And that right there is one of your strongest advantages. I know that the idea of providing “excellent customer service” isn’t new, but it will continue to be a key part of running a successful retail business. We may be surrounded by sexier retail trends like AR, VR, AI (and whatever acronym you can think of), but at the end of the day, people visit retail stores because they want to get something that they can’t find on any screen or device. Many shoppers personally visit stores because they want to speak with an associate about a product. Some do it for the social component — i.e., shopping with friends or attending in-store events. In both cases, customers are craving for human connection — and this need won’t go away anytime soon, despite what some tech giants would have us believe. And if you’re a retailer (or any type of business for that matter) you should continue to prioritise the “humanness” of your business.
The good news is many Newmarket retailers are already on the right track. But there are still a number of things that could be done to take things up a notch. For starters, you can train your associates to go from being “salespeople” to being consultants or experts. These days, it’s no longer enough to train employees on your products and store policies — these things are just the bare minimum. You also need to train them to relate better to shoppers. Your associates should have the ability to connect with customers in a memorable way. This often means shifting from being a “salesperson” to being an expert, consultant, or even friend. Another action step is to arm yourself and your team with better tools. Invest in up-to- date and well-functioning tools and equipment. This not only empowers your staff but it also increases productivity and helps them do their jobs better.
Let’s consider the case for upgrading your point-of-sale system. Having your employees use an outdated cash register with limited functionality slows them down, whereas having a cloud-based POS makes their job faster and easier and can enable them to get more things done. Taking these two steps in staff development and technology will lead to higher staff morale, increased customer satisfaction, and a healthier bottom line. While it’s true that the world of retail (and business in general) is a lot more competitive, you can still stay ahead if you have the right people and tools at your side.