The interesting thing about the retail arena – online and offline – is that everyone, no matter what their career, what their age, what their sex, or their likes and dislikes, is involved in it. Everyone shops. Some do it for pleasure, some out of necessity, but the fact remains that if we want to survive, we need to buy things, food being the prime example. But of course, much more is bought apart from food, and from clothing to toys to gadgets to household appliances and much more, someone somewhere is spending money on them.
As a retailer this is good news, at least in part. If someone somewhere is buying something, the chances are they will buy that something from you at some point. That is, as long as you are visible
and as long as you know what shoppers want and how to deliver it to them. This is the same no matter what you are selling or where and how you are selling it. Give the shoppers what they want in the way they want it, and they will be back for more. Don’t give it to them, and your competition will reap the rewards. Read on to get an insight into exactly what it is that shoppers really do want.
Reviews and Testimonials
One thing that holds true about both online and offline shopping, about using tried and tested shops that have been around for decades or the new kids on the block is that word of mouth is king
when it comes to marketing. People love to hear good things about the places they are thinking of buying from; it gives them confidence to go ahead with their plans, and it makes them feel good to have made the right choice and then receive the confirmation of that choice from someone else.
Therefore, shoppers will often actively seek out these testimonials and reviews before buying. There is so much choice these days that it makes sense they will want to be purchasing their goods from those stores that are deemed to be the best, or at least extremely good. Plus, when buying online there is no chance to touch the goods or get up close and personal with them to get an idea of what they are really like. In these instances, reliance on reviews becomes even more important.
As a retailer, it is in your interest to seek out positive reviews
for your business. Ask for them from happy customers; sometimes all it takes is a reminder that there is a review process for them to use for them to actually take part in it. Or perhaps you might offer a reward; for every review left, receive a percentage off your next shop, or build up points to receive a free gift. The more reviews you have the better your chances of impressing people who have yet to buy from you, so it is worth chasing if you need to.
Once you have the reviews, ensure you point people towards them, especially if they are wavering at all. This might be the thing that sways them. Have a page on your website dedicated to your testimonials, and use them on social media too.
When was the last time you were persuaded to buy something by reading a product description that had no image attached to it? It’s unlikely you’ve ever done it; why would you? The product description might be excellent, but without the image to convey the exact look of the item, there is still a sense of the unknown, and that is an uncomfortable sense when it comes to spending money; we all want to know that what we are buying is going to be worth the expense, no matter how much it might actually be.
Therefore, visual content is essential. Shoppers want to be able to see the item before they either buy it online, or they make the journey to your physical store to get it. They need to have all the facts, and an image is the ideal way to cement the idea that they need this thing, whatever it might be, in their lives.
Social media is a wonderful way to put this point across. Showcase hero products that you know people love and do it with brilliant photography. This is another key point; the photography really does have to be good. Thanks to the tech we have around us, in many cases a simple snap can be turned into something much more interesting – Instagram which is an entirely visual medium offers filters
, for example, which mask any imperfections. However, although this is something that can be done, it’s not an entirely honest way to show off your products and persuade people to buy. It might be a better option to hire a professional photographer to take product photos and then use them instead. This way, you aren’t going to be promising something you can’t deliver, plus it shows that you care about your products and your customers by being honest. That can go a long way.
Although there are still shoppers who simply want to buy something and not be bothered by anything or anyone whilst doing it, there are many more – an increasing amount in these connected times – who would prefer to have some form of engagement, if not whilst buying then certainly before and perhaps afterwards as well.
Again, social media is an ideal forum for this. If a customer wants to ask a question, it’s likely they will turn to Facebook or Twitter to do so. It is crucial that retailers understand this and take to these platforms with their businesses. When someone tags you in a post, asks you a direct question in your group or business page, or direct messages you, don’t ignore them. This not only gives them a bad opinion of you, but it means they will tell others not to bother with your shop since you can’t be bothered with them. Plus you’ll more than likely lose the sale that was imminent.
Social media can take a lot of time, but it is also extremely important, and engaging with customers is vital to the success of your business, and therefore you will need to set some time aside each day to focus on it. One hour each morning, perhaps, or at the end of the day, to answer questions and queries and engage with your potential customers will certainly help.
A blog is another good way to engage with your customers, or, even more so, a vlog (a video blog). By showing the human side of your business whilst also giving people information about the products and services you offer, you can help them make a buying decision that involves you.
More and more people are using mobile devices to browse the internet, and to buy from it. If your website is not mobile friendly
, you are going to be missing out. You may not realise it, but when a potential customer searches for what you sell and clicks through to your site from a mobile device, if the website is not responsive to that, isn’t resized for their screen, doesn’t scroll properly, doesn’t given them a pleasurable browsing experience, they will soon – frustrated – click away and try the next site on the list.
Do you know if your site is mobile friendly? It’s the work of seconds to check; just look at it from a mobile device. How does it look? Is it how it should be, or does work need to be done? Getting this right is imperative.
The phrase ‘customer is king’ has never been more relevant than in today’s retail world. Everything you do as a retailer needs to focus on the customer, giving them the ultimate shopping experience, making them feel special and showing them that they are needed. Once you can do this, people will return to buy from you, knowing they are appreciated and that they can have a good experience with you. Ensuring your customer service is second to none and keeping up with social media trends is vital.
To find out how you compare to your competitors, you could also consider review monitoring