The other day I needed some computer supplies, so I visited my local big box technology retailer. As I was making a decision on my purchases, I couldn’t help but notice another family in the aisle using their smartphone—they scanned the barcode of a product on display to check its price online. When customers have access to a competitor’s prices in the palm of their hands, this is a major revenue impediment for many retailers in today’s connected economy.
Earn Their Loyalty
Obviously, I could have done the same thing with my purchases before because, as most people try to do, I was looking for the best deal. But I didn’t this time. Why? Several years ago the manager of the same store did a huge favor for me when I had computer trouble. Over the years, whenever I had a question on home technology, I would go to that manager and he’d give me very sound advice. That manager has earned my loyalty and my future purchases— I won’t be price-checking everything before it goes in my shopping cart.
This also reminds me of how a general manager would recognize my grandparents whenever they entered the store. He would ask about their lives and their children, and maybe offer them a bit of advice on a new product that he was carrying that day. He was an extension of their friend network, and, in fact, probably associated with them outside of that store as well. If you are unfamiliar with that friendly and helpful customer interaction, rent the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” and watch the interactions between the restaurant owner, luggage salesman, and George Bailey assisting a customer.
Stop Trying to Beat the Internet
With today’s scale of retail, it’s very difficult for a retailer to create this personal relationship with the consumer. One of the ways of doing this is to post pictures of all the mangers in a common area that can be seen by consumers. This is a very 1980s approach to solving this problem. Today, we have the ability to create virtual Fan Zones where customers can learn about and become friends with the managers of the store. They can create this relationship on their smartphone or on a website.
Fan Zones are easy to create and manage within a customer Master Data Management (MDM) system. MDM allows you to easily create and manage the relationship between the consumer and the employees of the store. So even if your retail outlet has 10,000 customer visits a day, you can still create that personal relationship with each consumer.
Using modern tools, you now have a personal customer relationship between your employees and your customers. That relationship may be the key to selling your products at a fair price and not competing with lowest price on the web.