How do you feel about the economy? Well, the average U.S. economic confidence rate from Gallup increased 3 points in May to -17, which is the highest monthly average we’ve seen in over four years! Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index is based on how Americans rate the current economic state and their perception of whether it’s improving or getting worse. So what does an improved confidence rating mean? Consumers are more hopeful, which is good news for the retail industry.
In the midst of economic uncertainty and troubles, there’s been some improvement in retail. According to KMPG’s Retail Industry Executive Survey, revenue and headcount increased in 2011, but executives aren’t expecting a full economic recovery until 2013 or 2014. The study surveyed 100 retail CEOs and C-level suite executives. These executives indicated that the biggest drivers of revenue growth over the next few years will be: retention and addition of customers, and innovative merchandising strategies. For continued and improved retail sales, these factors must be taken into consideration.
Here are three useful tips to retain and gain customers, and be a retail superstar.
1. Perfect your online and mobile shopping experience. An article from Retailing Today quoted that “more than 80 percent of U.S. consumers are more likely to become loyal customers to retailers that provided an integrated experience across channels.” It’s no surprise that online and mobile shopping is critical and plays a key role in retaining and gaining customers. The purpose of mobile shopping is convenience; customers can buy what they need with the click of a button without leaving their homes. The most important aspects of a successful online shopping experience are: easy navigation, simple checkout process and accurate presence of product images. Now, take your mobile shopping to the next level and integrate it with the in-store experience. To do this, give shoppers the option of picking up their purchase directly from the store and allow in-store returns. This gives customers the online convenience of making the purchase, as well as valuable face-to-face customer service.
2. Be smart and innovate with social networks. A recent video from The Washington Post presented new findings about social media advertising in retail. Studies show that fewer shoppers are turning to social networks and the number of consumers who follow retailers online has fallen. One example is General Motors; the company recently cancelled its Facebook ad campaign, claiming the ads were ineffective. Social media is a great way to connect with current and potential customers, but you must use it effectively! The tricky thing is that social media is constantly changing. How do you know which social media outlet is best for your business or product? Here’s some advice from Faith Hope Consolo, the chairman of retail leasing at Prudential: “You have to do it all! We’re in a challenging environment, nobody just shops for no reason.” Sometimes with social media, it’s just trial and error. Measure your social media reach and effectiveness. If it’s not working, try a different approach. Here’s an interesting article from Mashable.com with six innovative social media campaigns to learn from.
3. Create a productive company culture. It’s important to have a great digital presence in retail, but don’t forget about the company itself. The KPMG Retail Executive Survey also found that company culture is thought to be the biggest obstacle when establishing company risk policies. Whether the organization is in sales or public service, to be successful, managers and employees need to have a healthy relationship. Employees and leaders should feel comfortable sharing their opinions, giving and receiving constructive feedback, and feel respected. A happy company culture makes happy customers.