Black Friday is just around the corner. Retailers across the country are impatient to see how their offers will fair against their competitors’ to reel in discount-hungry customers. Half price products and BOGOF deals are the typical ways companies compete for business – but are they necessary? Where drastic price cuts often result in missing out on revenue share, what should retailers be doing throughout the year to avoid partaking in these extreme events?

We spoke to retail experts – Douglas Penstone-Smith, VP of Retail and eCommerce at Yamaha and Stephen Spencer, Customer Experience Consultant – to hear about the ways retailers can improve their customer experience both in-store online. The following insights were taken from our white paper “Retail Reinvented”.

Employee engagement = customer engagement

Focusing on employee experience may sound like a surprising place to start, but that’s what experts Douglas Penstone-Smith, VP of Retail and eCommerce at Yamaha and Stephen Spencer, Customer Experience Consultant suggested when quizzed on the matter.

“It’s the people”, Stephen said when referring to the success of failure of a retail business. “If you walk into a store and the only interaction you have with a shop assistant is lacklustre, it’s unlikely you’ll leave feeling like you’ve built a connection with the brand or been part of a memorable experience.”

When asked how this could be improved, Stephen suggested that “employees need more soft skills training, strategically planned and delivered”. He attributed the lack of interaction staff have with customers to employers not building a real sense of value in their staff within the business.

Indeed, the extent to which employees feel valued within an organisation has been found to be the primary motivator behind staff’s productivity – trumping remuneration – which is complimented by a Gallup study. Gallup researchers studied the difference in performance between engaged and actively disengaged work units and found that those scoring in the top half of employee engagement nearly doubled their offs of success compared to the bottom half.

We asked Douglas what the skills and qualities are that leaders need to possess in order to succeed in retail today. His response was “bravery, ambition and drive will of course be the personal qualities necessary to survive and thrive in this industry. But what’s more is they’ll have the ability to truly engage their staff with the changes going ahead.” Both sources agreed that in order to succeed in the industry, leaders must focus on building a sense of value and responsibility among their workforce.

Lessening dependency on heavy Black Friday discounting

Black Friday has become synonymous with ‘bargains and discounts’ and as such many retailers are now forced to heavily discount or miss out on their share of revenue from the day(s), however Douglas believe that retailers can potentially lessen dependency on heavy Black Friday discounting.

“The mistake that a lot of retailers make is not offering relevant promotions throughout the year,” Douglas told us. His advice to retailers was to deliver exclusive and targeted offers
throughout the entire year to its customers. “Show me you care, show me you understand me, my needs, my likes and dislikes and you can be sure I will spend more with you”.

“But when it comes to Black Friday,” he said, “companies could try offering exclusive products and experiences to those who shop with them on that day – not just exclusive offers or one-offs. They should be providing them with unique access to products and services for choosing to shop with them on Black Friday”.

Read the full interviews and insights in our white pape “Retail Reinvented”.

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