Mistakes. We’ve all made them. Some blunders – such as mistaking a stranger on the bus for a friend of yours – are a bit embarrassing but generally harmless. However, others – like thinking it’s OK to drink expired milk just because it’s in the fridge – can give you a nasty stomachache.
In retail, there are some errors that’ll cost you more than unpleasant trips to the bathroom; as you’ll learn below, there are certain mistakes that can result in you losing time, money, and customers.
Below is a rundown of what these blunders are along with advice on how to avoid (or correct) them.
Are you committing any of these in your store?
1. Not covering your bases when it comes to customer service
You may already know that most consumers (86% according to this study) quit doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service. But did you also know that more than half of shoppers said that they would try to reach support only ONCE before giving up on a purchase?
Providing great customer service isn’t just about putting on a smile and being helpful. It’s about being there for your customers when and where they need you. And in an age where people are conducting business on multiple devices and channels, it’s more important than ever to cover all your customer service bases.
If customers try to reach you online and don’t get a response, they probably won’t go to the trouble of picking up the phone to call you. They’ll likely turn to your competitors and see if they can get the help they need from them.
Avoid this by setting up customer service systems on various channels. Phone and in-person customer support are, of course, standard, but do you have online services as well? If not, consider installing a live chat application on your website so your visitors can instantly touch base with you if they have any concerns. Also make sure that you have a dedicated community manager who can address concerns on social media.
One great example of a retailer doing this right is Nike. The brand lets people contact support over the phone, via email, or using live chat. You can even schedule an appointment and have them call you.
Nike also has a dedicated social account for customer service. Social-savvy users can reach out to the brand by touching base with @NikeSupport, its official Twitter account that’s on call seven days a week.
Nike is doing such an awesome job in leveraging Twitter for customer service that according to Simply Measured, “Nike has an average response time of 2.8 hours, well below the Interbrand 100 average of 5.4 hours. 55% of the time @NikeSupport is able to respond within 30 minutes, and an additional 13% of responses are made within the hour.”
Talk about dedication!
Aim to provide the same multi-channel customer service for your store. If it’s not possible to provide round-the-clock support, then at least display your customer service hours on your help page to let people know the best time to reach you.
2. Sending irrelevant promotions
Those batch-and-blast newsletters and one-size-fits-all promos are costing you customers. Email marketing company Constant Contact ran a survey on why people unsubscribe from newsletters and found that 56% of respondents said that they opt-out because of irrelevant content.
Minimize those unsubscribes by segmenting your customers and sending out tailored messages. One way to do this is to look at your customers’ purchase history and previous behavior and then touch base with customized offers.
Consider, for instance, what The Honest Company does. The online retailer customizes its welcome emails based on the things that each user viewed on its site. So if, say, a customer visits the site and looks at cleaning products, then they might receive an email with images of detergents or soaps. However, if the customer spends time at the health & wellness section instead, then they would receive an email promoting vitamins and other related products.
You can also customize your messages according to your customers’ location. If your store has multiple branches and you’re having a sale in a specific location, then only send an alert to people who live in that area instead of blasting a message to your entire list.
3. Choosing a cash register over a mobile POS
We’re not just saying this because we’re in the mPOS business. The fact is, retailers spend twice as much on a cash register compared to an iPad-based one. A traditional register can cost up to $4,000 compared to an iPad POS, which costs around $1,500 including accessories.
But it’s not just about the money. A mobile POS system can help you serve your customers better. Solutions like Vend enable you to provide better and faster service through added features and integrations such as mobile payments, loyalty, inventory, and more.
And thanks to its portability, a mobile POS system is easy to transport. Take it with you during conferences, fairs, or use it to bring the checkout process directly to your customers, like what Medisave did.
When the medical supplies retailer attended an industry trade show, they armed team members with a mobile POS, printer belts, and scanner lanyards and turned them into “walking POS people.” This enabled them to walk the line and go to the customer rather than having customers push through the crowd to get to the counter. Doing so allowed them to speed up checkout and serve customers better.
4. Neglecting your (and your staff’s) education
The old adage “if you think education is expensive, try ignorance” doesn’t just apply to students. Failing to invest in your education can be a costly mistake for entrepreneurs as well. If you don’t keep yourself and your staff abreast of the latest trends, issues, and developments in your field, you could miss the boat on many opportunities. Not to mention, you’ll risk falling behind your forward-thinking competitors.
Stay in the know by subscribing to your industry’s publications, attending relevant conferences, and consuming retail resources and learning materials.
Don’t forget to invest in your staff’s education as well. Bring them to any events that they can learn from. Let them attend relevant training sessions or webinars. Provide your employees with the educational means to help them do their jobs better.
5. Not going mobile
Mobile now accounts for 17.4% of global Internet traffic, which means that not having a mobile strategy could be costing you a lot in terms of lost visitors and sales. Prevent that by taking steps to optimize your presence and “findablility” in the mobile realm.
Here are a few things you can do:
Optimize your site for mobile – Make sure your site looks and behaves great on the small screen. Accomplishing this is fairly easy and affordable these days thanks to services such as Mobify or Mofuse, which enable you to convert your existing website into a mobile friendly one.
Get listed on sites, apps, and directories – Listing your business in search engines, directories, and other services puts you in front of shoppers (most of whom are using their mobile phones) who are looking for your products or services.
To do this, you can manually submit your listing to directories, or you can use a tool like Moz Local which “creates and maintains your listings on the sites, apps, and directories that factor most into local search results.” All you need to do is upload your location data to Moz Local, and the service will push it to the major data aggregators.
Partner up with mobile deal aggregators – Do you have a sale or promotion going on? Keep mobile users in the loop by getting your deals listed in mobile shopping apps like Yowzaa!! or Red Laser.
P.S.: Need more detailed tips on going mobile? Check out our previous post about putting your business in front of mobile users.
Can you name other big mistakes that are costing retailers time, money, or customers? Comment below and let us know.
About Francesca Nicasio
Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.