2017: The Year of The Customer

customer service in 2017 retail trends

The end of 2016 marks record success for some brick-and-mortar and online retailers. Yet, it also marks the end of business for too many brick-and-mortar retailers. What are healthy retailers doing better than the unsuccessful ones? What can struggling retailers do in 2017 to turn things around? It’s simple, really. They make it all about the customer, and they do it in a unique way. 

Healthy retailers, ones opening new stores and achieving increasing same-store sales, have figured out what the customer wants and delivered differently than their competition. In the coming year, success comes from being all about the customer. Which of the following six 2017 retail trends would drive your customers to your location?

  • Human connection. Interactive and engaging retailers attract and retain customers. How do your customers use your products? What can you do to connect to your customers and let them know you understand what they need?
  • Experience. What can you do to make shopping at your location an entertaining, enjoyable experience that they cannot get online?
  • Pick-up service. Would a pickup service benefit your customers? Many customers appreciate the instant gratification of ordering online and then picking up in-store. As online ordering and in-store pickup increases, your store footprint may change. Store layout and fixtures can be redesigned to achieve a smooth and convenient pick-up process.
  • Virtual reality. Do your customers appreciate new technology that would eliminate the need to try on clothing? Would they like to be able to better visualize how something would look on them or in their homes? Implementing new technology may mean a new store design including specialized desks, kiosks or upholstery.
  • Reduced or eliminated cash lines. Would your customers appreciate a new way to check out? Many retailers find that customers value a streamlined, more convenient checkout process. This may involve stand-alone pods, desks or tables or could involve a customer service representative coming to the customer with a mobile device for checkout.
  • Convenient/Fun locations. Would your customers be more likely to venture to your location if you were next door to their doctor’s office? Gym? Favorite restaurant? Movie theater? Many malls are evolving, adding fun events, entertainment such as movies, and convenience factors like healthcare to their locations to entice customers to shop.

So, what’s next? You’ve made it all about your customer, and you did it differently than the shop next door. Are you all set? The answer is definitely “no.” The way to stay healthy is to stay smart by staying in touch with your customer and continuing to evolve with their wants and needs. If you do that, when 2017 comes to an end, you’ll be one of those healthy, successful retailers the competition wants to copy.

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