Have you ever taken the time to think about the service provided in your store from the customer’s point of view? And if so, have you recorded the experience in an easy-to-understand way. If you haven’t, you could be missing out on vital sales. The process is called customer journey mapping, and it can be a crucial tool for delivering an in-store experience that drives your business forward.
Of course, you have a customer journey in your store already — whether you know it or not. Every business does, and understanding it is the key to improving the service you’re delivering. There are some telltale signs that a customer journey isn’t fit for purpose, but first it’s important to understand the basic principles involved.
A customer journey is pretty self-explanatory. It’s the journey each customer must take in your store in order to make a purchase. In retail, it often starts with a shop window, an advertisement or some form of online message. In many cases, the journey ends when the customer leaves with their purchase. However, this may not be the case if there is a problem with the product.
Ideally, the customer journey should be as pleasant and frictionless as possible. But if any of the following signs relate to your business, it may be time to intervene.
1. You Aren’t Receiving Feedback or Requests from Customers
A good customer journey in the world of retail usually involves several opportunities for customers to provide constructive feedback, complaints and requests. If you find that these interactions are few and far between, mapping your customer journey will help you to identify where opportunities are being lost.
2. You Don’t Have Many Regular Customers
Regular customers are usually the lifeblood for small, independent stores. In fact, the most successful local retailers know most of their regulars by name (this is particularly true in the catering industry). If you’re struggling to recognise faces in your store, there’s a chance that a lack of repeat business could be to blame.
What is stopping people from returning to your business after making an initial purchase? While this phenomenon might be related to prices or product quality, the customer journey may be the root cause.
3. Footfall Rates Don’t Aren’t Reflected in Your Sales
According to ShopVisible, the average in-store conversion rate is around 20 per cent. This means that you should be aiming to persuade one in every five customers in your store to make a purchase. If your actual footfall conversion rate is well below this level, map your customer journey and search for opportunities to improve it.
4. You Created It
It’s important to let your customers dictate the shopping experience in your store. An effective customer journey evolves over time, according to the needs of customers. If you have put in place a stringent, formulaic customer journey, the chances are it’s not delivering financially. Adapt everything from your store layout to the final purchasing process according to the needs of consumers, and your shopping experience will be conducive to driving sales.
5. There’s Just Too Much Interaction
When it comes to customer service, you can actually have too much of a good thing. While customers will always want advice and an element of human interaction in brick-and-mortar stores, they don’t want to feel pressurised or crowded by over-zealous sales assistants. Assess your customer journey, and look for unnecessary interactions that may be sending people away.
Create a customer journey map of your own with the help of retail specialists. Once you know what your customers face when they enter your store, you’ll be able to identify opportunities for improving service and growing sales.
Rob Gamage is Managing Editor of Modern Retail. Combining many years of experience in publishing with a keen interest in small business and entrepreneurship, Rob is passionate about sharing interesting and inspiring content with retailers to help them grow.