As we enter a new year for retail, its more important than ever in an increasingly competitive environment to retain customers. Loyalty is something which is invaluable for retailers and can be highly beneficial for not only ensuring returning customers, but also gaining new custom through reviews and suggestions.
There are many factors which can impact on a customer’s likelihood to return, and therefore it’s important to understand the elements of your business which encourage customer loyalty, and those areas which may perhaps need improvement.
What is Customer Retention?
The process of a single buyer becoming a repeat customer and prioritising your business over others, is ‘customer retention’. There are a variety of methods for ensuring customer retention which vary depending on the industry; in retail these will involve providing excellent customer service and putting customers needs at the forefront of the business.
The larger base of returning customers your business has, the more likely it will succeed. With an increased and almost guaranteed bottom line as your customer retention rate increases. Below are just some tips for increasing customer retention in a retail business during 2020.
The Retail Environment
Businesses which have a presence on the high street need to put a high level of focus on the physical retail environment, as it can play a vital role in the decision for a customer to return. Products should be showcased well, and the space needs to be both clean and comfortable.
A great way to ensure an ideal retail environment is to utilise planned maintenance, such as that provided by MSL Property Care Services ltd. Planned maintenance will ensure your property is checked regularly and any maintenance completed as necessary and in precaution for any future issues.
There are many aspects to keeping a pleasant retail environment including, but not limited to, the lighting and temperature. Without regular maintenance checks these systems could fail meaning an uncomfortable environment or requiring the business to close until repairs can be completed. The preventative approach of planned maintenance ensures problems can be identified before they can escalate and result in potential business downtime.
For online only retailers, the business’ website should be functional and easy to use and navigate. You should keep users up to date with the latest deals and products by effectively utilising the homepage and landing pages. Online only businesses need to keep a well-maintained site in order to build trust with customers, which in turn will encourage them to return.
In order to ensure you’re providing the best service to your customers; you should invest time in training staff effectively. Your staff are the communicators of your brand and are a vital in ensuring customer retention. Spend time training staff in customer service techniques and ensuring they have a wide knowledge of the products you sell.
Polite, helpful and knowledgeable staff are integral for providing a positive experience for your customers.
Loyalty programmes are highly effective in the retail sector for encouraging customers to return. It is important when running a loyalty scheme that your rewards are competitive with others on the market at the time, but not so overly generous that you lose money.
Conducting customer surveys and market research in your sector can help identify the kind of loyalty scheme your customers may prefer. For example, stamp cards which would be appropriate in a coffee shop would not be so appropriate in a luxury clothes store.
Your customers can often provide greater insight into your business than you think. Listening to their opinions and feedback is crucial for improving your business, and its important to answer any complaints directly as this will help build trust for the future. Ignoring customer complaints or criticism can be detrimental for your business and could lead to a poor reputation for customer service.
You could also welcome constructive criticism by sending out surveys; this is a great way to know which parts of your business may need improvement. Simply ask customers their thoughts on recent shopping experiences and look for any patterns in their feedback.
There are many different ways to aid in customer retention, and these are just a few effective strategies. Ensure that you have an open dialect with your customers and that you have a well maintained physical or online store to make their shopping experience as comfortable and easy as possible.