Optimization of trade with the help of the latest information technologies leads customers along the path of self-service: more and more processes - from deciding on the need to purchase (remember the banners of online advertising) to placing an order - are in digital competence. The advantages of e-commerce are its round-the-clock availability and saving of time and energy, a rich assortment and variety of payment options (in cash or by bank card when receiving / delivering goods, money transfer, using the international paypal payment system), which explains the growth of the online market segment .
This development at the same time allows to reduce traditional staff costs, rent of retail space, utilities, etc., but also increases competition and creates new difficulties for the traditional trade segment. Therefore, the introduction and development of new forms of working with clients at the present time are obvious steps for those who want to stay afloat and develop.
The degree of activity of the company in the digital space and the role of new digital relationships with retail customers depends on the target group, which is logical. Elderly people in a residential area are unlikely to respond to emails, since most of them simply do not use e-mail. Word of mouth, which will inform them of a particular discount campaign, will be more effective than SMS and email newsletters. But the young and middle-aged audience are active users of digital technologies and gadgets, therefore, they are daily subjected to assaults of retailers and active information bombardment - letters, chat messages, etc.
Write to Direct neatly and infrequently
E-mails and SMS mailings to regular customers who at least once made a purchase in your store are one of the forms of direct communication with a loyal target audience (direct or direct marketing) that reports on your promotions, discounts and sales without the participation of the media, advertising agencies and is aimed at a specific target group. Its advantage is that the percentage of people motivated to buy in this group is much higher than, for example, in the group for which outdoor advertising will work (hauling on the big street closest to your store). The minus of this form of communication follows, in fact, from its own plus: this method does not involve expanding the audience, but retaining an existing one, that is, working with loyal customers.
In addition, such forms of communication require a restrained approach. The information sent to the client should be really useful and unobtrusive. Too annoying companies run the risk of blacklisting and SPAM forever. The risk of causing a negative reaction from the client also arises from those who use client bases. Often the phone numbers and addresses of electronic mailboxes that fall into the databases and are used in direct marketing campaigns, contrary to the promises of the creators of these databases, do not include the customers you need, and the databases quickly become outdated. Constant advertising calls to a person who has long been replaced if not a city, then a district of residence, will not benefit your business, but will only cause irritation for a person whom he can share on social networks, and this can have the most serious consequences for you: as you know, scandalous , the crushing posts of dissatisfied users of social networks destroyed or greatly tarnished the reputation of not one international company and not one famous person.
Therefore, customer bases, even formed by the company itself, must be constantly updated, one of your employees should regularly engage in this work. People tend to change phone numbers, start a new e-mail box instead of “spammed” ones, move, change their sphere of activity. Electronic direct mail, as well as information on SMS, ideally should be carried out with the informed consent of the recipients, which is given upon receipt of a customer card or registration on the website of your store. Any electronic message must necessarily have a link by which you can unsubscribe from notifications.
Context is not always justified
Contextual advertising on the Internet also does not always justify the money invested in it, and the number of “clicks” with the mouse on the ad does not reflect the real situation with the transitions to the site and, especially, with completed purchases. Much more effective is the form of interaction with potential Internet buyers, which allows you to accurately track how many customers the resource that posted your ad really brought to the "basket".
Encourage customers to accumulate points and bonuses
A loyalty card can not only guarantee 2-, 5-, 10-percent discount on a new collection or accumulate points after each purchase. So, the German network of perfume and cosmetics stores Douglas offers customers a card that is tied to a bank account, and allows you to pay for purchases without using cash or other cards. The amount accumulated for the month is subsequently debited from the account - at the beginning, end or middle of the month at the client’s choice. Online purchases through your personal account also accumulate received points on the client’s card and allow you to receive additional bonuses from the trading network.
Connect all possible payment services: acquiring, e-wallets, cache
Offer your clients the maximum choice of payment options for goods: payment by different types of cards or in cash upon receipt, using Yandex-wallet or WebMoney, via bank transfer or electronic cash on delivery, at the Russian Post office upon receipt. When selling over the Internet, a variety of payment methods will only be a plus for you: the more payment options, the less likely that the client will go to competitors. The ability to cancel, change or supplement the order within a certain period after registration is another way to make the customer’s life more convenient and enjoyable (it turns out that you are ready to predict his every whim, any whim), and, therefore, increase the chances of his becoming a permanent customer.
The right strategy at the present stage of development of retail is to combine the advantages of traditional and online trading. The buyer in the store who did not find the right pair can be invited to familiarize himself with the full range on your website. It’s great if the electronic catalog is accessible through the terminal for customers directly on the trading floor, and the buyer who made an order on the Internet can pick up, exchange or return the goods in your store.
The service of providing the opportunity to postpone purchased goods is gaining popularity if the buyer intends to spend a few more hours shopping at nearby stores, or if he simply does not want to go with bags. Free home delivery is another option, which, however, is typical for high-price stores - premium and luxury.
Quickly respond to customer requests and requests
Competent work with site visitors requires financial and human resources, but it will pay off handsomely. Effective communication is not possible without a prompt response to audience requests. The client must have confidence that he will receive a quick and competent response to his appeal, that his problem will be quickly solved. However, while many sites sin by slowness and unwillingness to communicate: customer letters disappear into the "black hole" of the support service, which prefers to remain silent or respond with a formal reply instead of a quick and real solution to the problem.
All customer requests and company response in both the traditional store and the online store should be recorded by the customer service and subjected to serious analysis. Such a “Book of complaints and suggestions” most effectively reveals the shortcomings of a product or service, and also allows you to evaluate the effectiveness of employees and offer the best solutions to optimize the company.
Do not discount the human factor
Even in digital space, man remains human. This means that he is still inclined not only to choose the one who has the biggest discount or more attractive bonus system, but also with the conservatism characteristic of the consumer to make a decision in favor of a familiar store or brand. The question of the recognition of your retail company in the online environment is no less relevant than in traditional trading. The characteristic elements in the design of the site and online advertising should cause a direct association with what the customer sees in your store and vice versa.
In the same area lies the benefit of personal contacts. The more efficiently the work of the support service is established, the more positive the customer’s impression is, the longer it lasts, which also forms the recognition of your brand, as if the customer passed your store every morning on the way to work.
Recognition and personification of customer relations on the online platform can be increased not only by contacting customer support. It can be a video posted on your website where sellers talk about new collections or congratulate the customer on holidays. The degree of professionalism with which the roller is mounted does not play a big role. On the contrary, some flaws can give the impression of proximity and simplicity, in fact direct human communication.
Differ in order to survive
In the digital age, the conversation about new forms of working with customers is usually associated with Internet innovations and programs that are designed to facilitate the attraction of new customers through advertising and convenient service, simplify the purchase process and reduce costs and expenses. All this is true. But the rapid development of digital services also means that the original approach to traditional ways of communicating with customers will also help to distinguish themselves from competitors.
Thus, the development of Internet commerce and automation of processes within the enterprise reduces the number of traditional sellers on the one hand, but contributes to the growth of demand for qualified consultants on the other. The transition of a significant part of potential buyers to "self-service" through the Internet platform is changing the composition of employees engaged in retail trade. Thus, the development of technology at the same time increases the importance of the human resource, namely, experienced and qualified personnel.
One of the methods of working with customers that distinguishes a professional who knows how to keep an audience in a regular store in the age of e-commerce is the ability to listen to the customer instead of persuasion and suggestions that suggest answers to those questions that are important to the buyer. Less pressure on the person at the time of making the purchase decision and more attention to his personal needs is part of this practice.
Drive customers to shopping
Sometimes it will be effective to use the “negative purchase” technique - a somewhat provocative type of communication. Say, a situation where a customer tries on pair by pair and cannot make a choice - the reasons may be different: for some reason he cannot decide on a purchase, he is thinking of doing it tomorrow, he just spends time before meeting at a cafe in a shopping center. In this case, the seller can say to the doubting customer: “I'm afraid we can’t find anything suitable for you today” - and turn our attention to the next customer who seems more interested in buying. If this form of communication with the client does not lead to a purchase directly, then at least it saves your resources in order to redirect them in the right direction.
Personalization of communication is the “key to the heart of the client” both in offline trading and online. It, as before, depends on the professionalism and communication skills of employees. Soft-skills of staff in the sales area, behind a keyboard or with a telephone customer support services still have a significant impact on the efficiency of the enterprise. Naturally, each of these tasks requires both general and specific communication skills. Talking on the phone or composing the text of the Internet newsletter has its own characteristics. In this case, improving the professional skills of the staff depends on specific tasks and how much the business owner represents the composition and needs of his target group. The main idea is that a person remains a central factor in the development of a retail enterprise even in the age of high technology.
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