How important is face to face connection in the world of retail these days? Based on recent sales floor experience, it’s clear that we are not yet ready for the Jetson life. Below are the three most common reasons a customer crosses the threshold:
1. Return stations for online purchases. Customers don’t hesitate to order multiple sizes, and or multiple items to try on at home and return everything they decide against to a physical location. Their home is their private fitting room, and the local store is their reject rack. While there is some opportunity to flip this into a physical sale, it is typically a net negative sales transaction. Do the store systems track the source of the returns? If not, four wall performance is diminished by returns from another channel.
2. Hungry for guidance. Customers wander in looking slightly uncomfortable, standing in front of a merchandise presentation with a blank stare. The relief they express when an informed and positive person gets them talking about why they have arrived, is palpable. These interactions turn into a lot of fun. Providing product knowledge and understanding the needs of a customer is key. In these cases, price is not necessarily a primary decision driver.
3. Specific hunt. The shopper has an immediate need for an event or an emergency and don’t have time for a delivery. Some shoppers are more than happy to make a less than perfect purchase because no one else in any other store had even approached them.
In the short time during which I have returned to the selling floor, the number of “thank you’s“ and “this was fun” heard from the customers in response to our shared experience has reinforced the prevailing discussion that the physical channel will continue to exist. It’s up to each business to provide the experience worth visiting in every channel. Happy, informed humans do help.