Brick-and-mortar stores: Customer Experience Pain Points and Solutions
The convenience that eCommerce offers shoppers is gaining popularity across the world, so much so that 2017 was branded the year of the "retail apocalypse" with stores closing up more than 200% during the year. Even so, brick-and-mortar stores are still indispensable for consumers and need to reinvent and adapt to the new reality in order to stay relevant. How? Recognize the biggest pains consumers face when walking into a physical shop and effectively address them to improve their in-store experience to the maximum.
Having said that, here are some of the obstacles that in-store shoppers face and what owners of stores can do to enhance the shopping experience for customers.
Poor Customer Service
Most probably, this is the main pain point for most shoppers around the world who walk into various stores to buy their wares. According to a study carried out by Accenture, 77% of US consumers prefer dealing with a human beings for advice, but in that same country $1.6 trillion is lost by companies due to customers switching as a result of poor customer service. Taking care of your customers is not an option if you are set to encourage them to opt for in-store shopping over online buying.
One of the most straight forward ways to address the issue of customers walking out of the store due to poor customer service is ensuring that your staff is well-trained in customer care.
Some other approaches that can be used in to make customers happier when leaving the store include encouraging customers with reward and loyalty programs, offering knowledge regarding products and services rather than pushing them, ensuring your staff members are available at all times to provide help, among others. A simple "Thank you for shopping with us," might go a long way.
Practical concerns: Make your store accessible
Different customers will find different obstacles when going through stores. Narrow aisles or sets of stairs might make it difficult for customers to walk through the entirety of your store and reach the products without struggles. Additionally, while it's not possible to always have every single thing on hand, having an adequate stock of products that you know are popular can help avoid unnecessarily disappoint customers.
Ensure your stores are accessible for handicapped customers: providing distinctive parking spots and keep in mind details such as providing a button or implementing sensors that automatically open the door for customers in wheelchairs or using mobility devices like walkers or wheelchairs. Providing restroom stalls that are handicap accessible as well as water fountains will go far in helping those customers have a much more pleasurable experience making them more likely to return in the future.
Aside from making your store accessible for all types of customers, consider the way products are showcased and how easy would it be for customers to reach them. If the products on the shelves are not within reach of shoppers, it will put them off. One of the appealing things about shopping in physical stores touch and feel the items on display before they show up at the till.
Long and Slow Checkout Queues
The checkout counters are possibly the least enjoyable moments for shoppers who walk into stores with considerable traffic. Waiting in a queue with a slow checkout system or attendant is irritating, and you can quickly lose customers if the situation becomes unbearable.
Ensure you have adequate staff at the checkout counters to make the process faster and efficient systems are a necessity as well. Placing overhead screens at each checkout point to promote your store and share valuable information, will enhance the in-store experience too. Implementing new technologies such as mobile POS can also improve breaking the checkout bottleneck and turn alleviate pains for your staff and customers alike.