Author: Marketing, 24 April 2018

The term ‘shopper engagement’ is increasingly used as retailers compete to entice shoppers to spend money. Recent research highlights the extent to which shopper engagement is required across all formats, yet it is still an area which physical retail often gets badly wrong. A collaborative approach between landlords and retailers is the key to success, but what level of shopper engagement is correct for your scheme?

Online is often cited as the biggest threat to physical retail but is not immune to the requirement to engage with shoppers.  Recent Barclaycard Smartpay research identifies indecisive consumers abandon £18bn worth of potential sales each year when not checking out their online baskets (shoppers are most likely to dump knitwear, leather goods, lingerie and headphones). Whilst there is, in part, a degree of role play in evidence here (what would I buy with no intention to actually buy), it is clear there is a lack of impetus to get a vast proportion of these sales ‘over the line’. This applies in physical retailing as much as online; how often have you gone into a store with the intention to buy when a lack of inspiration, service or just basic courtesy have left you underwhelmed?

Engagement is key; research by Klarna of 1,000 consumers and 500 British retailers revealed that consumers are now demanding more personalised sales tactics, with 45% stating they are more likely to shop if sent a personalised offer.

online shopping

The online giants have and will continue to focus on ways to improve their engagement. Having previously been crucial for driving brand awareness, social media platforms are now taking sales away from physical retailing; the launch of Instagram’s shopping capabilities in the UK enables users to click on pictures in the app, receive product and price information and even go directly to the buying page should they choose to purchase items.

In light of this challenge, it is imperative that physical retailing be as engaging as possible but also that the level of engagement is as the customer desires or at least expects.  For the likes of Aldi and Primark – busy and profitable retailers – their model allows for a lower level of customer engagement given the product, and most importantly, price point. However, for those targeting more discretionary spend, the requirement for polite and attentive staff willing to help may seem obvious but is often missed. Engagement, whether it is pre or post purchase, is often cited as what sets John Lewis apart from competitors selling similar, or even the same product.

store interior

For centres, it is about understanding who the customer is, what they desire from their visit and then exceeding their expectations. Community based centres are achieving strong success by getting the basics right (the positive impact modern and clean toilet facilities can have should not be underestimated!) whilst regional centres have long looked to assist in facilitating engagement via quality environments, new Food & Beverage experiences or facilities which make for a more sustained and pleasurable experience (concierges or places to store purchases).

The cliché ‘retail is detail’ could not be more apt; speaking to customers to find out what they want and then reacting to it may not appear rocket science but in the rush to spend on developing, building and leasing retail schemes, it is an often overlooked and crucial aspect.

To discover how to speak to your customers and create actionable insights from the findings, contact FSP.

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