Good news! Retail is recovering, slowly but surely. Footfall is up by 11% year on year since 2022 . Despite a not so glowing economy and relentless inflationary pressures, customers are making their way back to shops and even spending more than last year.

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So what are brands doing to make the most of this trend? The honest answer is, not enough. Customers are too often left to wander aimlessly through the aisles, while staff chat among themselves about the latest Netflix release. And even with increasing store visits and average basket size, many brands are left pondering why they’re not reaping the benefits, unlike some of their competitors. They might choose to invest in more marketing, but according to a Maze study, prior in-store experiences have 3 to 10 times more impact on footfall than advertising or other factors. As Heidi Engan, CEO at Gina Tricot, puts it, “marketing influences a customer’s first visit to one of our stores. But their second visit is entirely driven by the experience of the first”. So how do you convert passing customers into fans for life?

1. Follow the Golden Rule!

Treat customers like you’d want to be treated. Make them feel welcome. Help them choose the right items. Transform their visit into an enjoyable experience. Wow them if you can!
Whatever you do, don’t ignore them. Customers have nothing but choice these days. If they choose to visit one of your stores, that’s an amazing opportunity:

  • to give them a great experience
  • to increase their spend on the day
  • to get them to come back again
  • to recommend them to their friends.

You miss one of these opportunities and it’s shame… You miss them regularly, and you’ll soon find your brand lagging behind your targets… and your competitors.

2. Listen to customers

While they’re in your store, why not engage with them! Find out what they’re after, what they think and feel about your brand and their experience on the day, how they recommend you might improve. What helps is not to see it as customer feedback, but as continuous engagement with the very people who fuel your growth. And when you see it like that, you’re more likely to think of ways that make this engagement fun and productive, rather than the old fashioned, interrogation-style Q&A that leads nowhere. But remember, your customers’ time is precious and you need to respect it. So only ask for information that you can do something about. Focus on feedback that will drive the right behaviours. Otherwise you might just have lost a customer in the process.

3. Empower your staff to do better

Because that’s what it’s all about. Feedback is only useful when it gets into the hands of people on the frontline who can deliver better customer experiences in store, every time. Sounds easy, right? In fact it takes a sophisticated, powerful tool, like Maze, to make it simple for employees to understand what they need to do. The truth is, your staff want to feel empowered to make improvements. They don’t want to be told what to do… they would rather figure it out for themselves. So provide them with the ability to check feedback and access training in their own terms. Giving your staff this power shouldn’t lead to management losing theirs. They’ll still need to maintain a high-level view of in-store experiences, especially when it comes to measuring performance and profitability.

The days of taking customers for granted are over. They have more choice yet more financial constraints than ever. So give your frontline the power and the tools to serve them better, and to deliver growth for your brand.