Steve Jones: 5 Ways to Keep Customers Coming Back

1. EMBRACE THE OMNI-CHANNEL EXPERIENCE: More and more retailers are striving to build a true omni-channel experience that merges at-home, in-store and mobile commerce into one seamless experience. In other words, if a customer wants to view an item online, purchase it using their phone and pick it up in-store, they can do so in a smooth and effortless way. Omni-channel provides the perfect example of merging digital insights with in-store physical experiences. The experience of every channel, from mobile to desktop to in-store, should feel the same to the customer.

2. BUT…IN-STORE EXPERIENCES MATTER: With a recent U.S. Census report putting e-commerce at less than 6 percent of overall sales, the in-store experience is as important as ever. Near-global access to the Internet and speedy adoption rates of smartphones have spawned countless changes to the way we shop and how retailers compete. But there are still ways to make the in-store experience useful for the retailers operation and a draw for customers. Mass customization for personalized experience and multi-channel fulfillment, where the customer picks up the product in-store, are ways to use a effectively utilize stores as part of the customer experience.

3. LEVERAGE THE RIGHT TECH: Smart retailers are leaving boring, antiquated layouts behind. To keep people in their stores, they need to make locations interactive and engaging. Leveraging the right technology is the first step. Tablets and smartphones are versatile and can be used in several ways, including taking payments from the customer where convenient rather than making them wait in a checkout line.  They can also demonstrate product features, offer more information and encourage social sharing. Smart retailers are also implementing interactive experiences with the use of large displays meant to fully engross customers to the point where they even forget that they’re inside a store. To the customer, the experience is interactive, engaging, and powerful.

4. BIG DATA BETTER THAN BIG BROTHER According to a study by Infogroup Targeting Solutions, 54 percent of marketers have already invested in data solutions to date, and nine out of 10 marketers planned to do so in 2014. Why the focus on data? In order to provide truly personalized experiences, smart retailers need to gather as much information about the behavior, history and whereabouts of consumers as possible. Collecting this actionable data through customer loyalty programs, point-of-sale data and online shopping behavior ultimately enables retailers to implement dynamic browsing, customized displays, personalized recommendations and shopper-specific discounts.

5.Respond with Renovation: In response to customer feedback, grocery chain Food Lion renovated several of its stores – making them easier to shop, offering the greatest value in private brands and providing fresh produce – in order to enhance the overall customer experience. Customer feedback has been extremely positive across the board. Iconic theater owner AMC knew it needed to align the guest experience with the visual experience of the movie in order to remain at the forefront of its industry. Adding more food and beverage options, replacing conventional seating with powered recliners and providing guests with the ability to not only buy tickets online, but reserve actual seats are just a few ways AMC brought its theaters back to life. Now, AMC is selling more tickets with fewer recliner seats – to sold out audiences.

By: Steve Jones, Managing Director of JLL