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Updated 24 May 2018

Why digital isn’t enough to attract (and keep) every customer

Social media accounts, apps and online assistance (hello chatbots) are good for keeping up with the connected consumer. But what about those who value old school engagement? Are you leaving them by the wayside? 

Diana Albertyn, Entrepreneur, 13 September 2017  Share  0 comments  Print

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All the answers to your unique business lifestage questions

Your local supermarket in your childhood suburb may look different from where you live now, but you like both stores, because aside from the technological facelift in your current neighbourhood, it’s still the Spar, Pick n Pay or Checkers you know and love.

As a franchisee, you need to consider your local customers before adopting costly technology in the name of advancement. Not everyone is going to appreciate your ‘improvements’ and you need to be able to survey your market before abandoning the old in favour of the new.

“No matter the generation, consumers will remain loyal to a retailer based on the type of experience they have visiting a store,” says Bob Feher, Analyst Relations & Market Inteligence at NCR Corporation.

While your franchise competes with the growing e-commerce market, add new technologies that focus on developing a unique in-store experience to your list.

Gen Z may be a buzzword, but a large amount of your consumers with money to spend today feel that nothing beats the in-store experience.

Related: 3 Ways to stimulate skills transfer in your franchise from day one

Prove them right by encouraging and implementing the following in your store:

Inclusive improvements

A fast and efficient customer experience across all platforms – in-store, mobile and online – may increase your store’s appeal from a fast and digital perspective, but the unintended consequence of this approach is alienating other customers that may perceive this experience as rushed and unattractive, taking their business elsewhere.

“One tactic retailers are using is implementing smaller store layouts to help reduce customer confusion and anxiety levels when shopping,” says Feher.

“Reader-friendly digital signage is also being implemented in stores to help older customers adapt and easily navigate the space.”

It’s possible to appeal to both new and familiar customers by offering the best of both worlds, instead of a implementing a complete digital overhaul in favour for a segment of your clientele at the expense of the other.

An exclusive experience

While your online portal and app is amazing, people come into the store because they know your staff and where to find specials, and to perhaps say hi to the manger.

“Customer engagement comes in many shapes and sizes,” says Sara Sugar of ShopKeep. “Whether it’s an employee remembering a customer’s coffee order or the specific bottle of wine they bought for a dinner party last month, customers want to know that retailers are paying attention to them and their shopping habits.”

Personal interaction with customers and familiarity with their shopping habits is pivotal to providing a seamless, personalised in-store experience,  that's right for your market in your specific franchise.


Store-savvy staff

In addition to training your staff to leverage technological tools, such as cloud-based POS software, they need to be personable and interact with customers.

Related: Can a teacher own a successful business?

“Consumer data and analytics, when combined with friendly, face-to-face service, allows employees to create a sense of value and familiarity for in-store shoppers,” says Sugar.

“In the long run, in-store engagement is not only beneficial for the customer, but for the store owner as well.”

Offering the right mix of solutions at your store creates a diverse and all-encompassing experience, bringing in repeat customers, notes Feher. Friendly staff that smiles at customers as they walk in and knows the answers to every question helps you to better connect with customers. 


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About the author

Diana Albertyn, Entrepreneur

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