Online shopping and ecommerce has successfully managed to gain the trust of the customers and offer excellent service. Physical stores and classic retail in general on the other hand are declining, if they fail to adapt to digital disruption.
So what happens downtown? You enter an electronics store, check out the goods, maybe you compare the prices online with your smartphone. You ask the service staff a question and get a really frustrating response that screams “I don’t know what you’re talking about” followed by a “You’ll buy this on Amazon anyway…”. Ok, with that attitude they definitely didn’t do customer retention. It’s more like their own frustration about being unable to make the sale, causes an ill-communicated message to the potential buyer, sealing the decision to actually go buy the merchandise online.
How about special goods stores? You enter them, being not greeted and feel like you just entered someone’s home. The feeling is like trespassing someone’s property, not like a browse, chat and buy mood. So after having a look at what you are after you notice that the exact thing you are looking for isn’t available. Fair enough, it can be ordered with the clerk. They tell you it will cost XYZ bucks and take about 4 weeks until you can come back and pick it up there. You tell them that Amazon has it available at half that price and can deliver it within 48 hours. They get frustrated and not try to make the sale but usually will either apologize or make up stories how evil the big competition is. Either way they’ll point you to the door and ask you to leave.
How about fashion stores? This is actually my favorite in a negative sense. Nowadays it can be that you are charged, when entering a retail store. You have to pay a few bucks so that you are allowed to have a look inside. How do they justify that? Store owners basically think their customers are the worst and firmly believe each and everyone is only there to try on stuff that they will then buy on the internet. It get’s better than that. The rise of influencers on social media, who are on the hunt for content makes them think that most visitors are no customers but freeloaders who do selfies when trying on clothes, shoes or other accessories, and then put it on Instagram, YouTube or other platforms. And this is the reason why now you have to pay an entrance fee to enter retail stores.
Of course not all retail stores are like this and I am certain that many offer excellent service, but the bad eggs really destroy the customer experience so critically that people are less and less excited about shopping in the real world.
Is this how retail stores think they can compete with online markets and ecommerce? With poor service and entry fees? Is that how you plan to make a coin and win back the masses? If you want to survive as a business, you should embrace ecommerce yourself.
Get your brand out there and use the tools that your customers use as well. Be one of them, engage with them, work with the influencers of a niche for a subtle plug here and there or turn fans into ambassadors of your brand. It’s not impossible business, it’s just a different business.
Photo credit: Fabio Venni