Giulio Cinque is owner of designer independent Giulio in Cambridge.
After a turbulent last quarter to 2014, retailers will be asking questions and seeking answers for the year ahead. So what does your customer want from you?
Sales, promotions, mid-season Sales, special preview Sales, emails with information about upcoming Sales, friends and family Sales, 30% Sales, 50% Sales, further reductions Sales, up to 70% off Sales, extra 10% off already 50% Sales, free shipping, free returns, 10% extra discount code. Have I missed anything?
Customers want to be emailed with information about new in-store arrivals, to be welcomed when visiting the store, great service, personal attention, an excellent shopping experience and environment, to see up-to-the-minute trends, to select from the most desirable product, exclusivity, to be thanked for their visit to store, to be thanked for their purchase, to be thanked for buying at full price. I have had this discussion with my colleagues and the conclusion is: customers want it all.
Is there an answer to meet the demand? Yes. Do your thing. Ask yourself what the DNA of your business is and stick to it. Ensure you know who your customer is. Make sure you are delivering a consistent message to your customer, make sure he or she understands what you stand for and, more importantly, provide the environment he or she feels comfortable in.
Competition from the internet makes it crucial that you love your customer. Make sure your sales team are on the same page, as they are the most important message providers. Keeping staff up to date is key, while constant updates to staff on new arrivals and forthcoming events in store enables the sales team to keep the dialogue between retailer and customer current and - believe it or not - the customer enjoys the contact and feels special. The customer may then visit the store on a more regular basis and potentially increase their spend with you.
Retail constantly brings new challenges. The customer is more demanding than ever and expects the retailer to meet those demands. A good retailer never stops asking questions and endeavouring to answer them.