The retail landscape has undergone a pronounced transformation during recent years. A business model once dominated by brick-and-mortar transactions and mail-order fulfillment has dramatically changed in order to accommodate online sales.
As the relationship between retailers and their customers continues evolving, it alters the ways in which sellers generate revenue. The shifts, driven by consumer preferences and advancing technology, have led many retailers to focus their efforts online, fine-tuning their e-commerce platforms and honing web-based growth opportunities. However, despite the move away from the traditional retail model, one prominent feature of retail success remains unchanged. Customer service is still the bridge connecting buyers and sellers.
If your business relies on retail sales, there’s nothing more important to your success than building goodwill with consumers. Making personal connections may be the best way to recruit new retail business and cement positive relationships with your existing customers – and that requires personnel. As you balance payroll costs with your company’s customer service needs, staffing to meet retail demand is a top priority – particularly during the robust holiday selling season.
Gaining a Competitive Edge Online and In Stores
Amazon receipts alone now account for more than 49 percent of online retail sales, amounting to a projected $258 billion in US sales in 2018. That means if you’re not Amazon, you must find effective ways to compete with the online juggernaut. For retailers striving to stand out in a crowded selling space, personalized service is a vital ingredient, setting them apart from competitors.
Despite the importance of individualized service, large retailers are shedding employees, rather than shoring up their resources against dominant forces, such as Amazon. In a brick-and-mortar environment awash with store closures, Nordstrom, Target, Kohl’s, and others are slashing staff at their retail locations. According to the New York Times, a six-month stretch bridging 2016 and 2017 saw 89,000 workers culled from general merchandise and department store payrolls. This counterintuitive trend could present opportunities for independent retailers, poised to provide stellar service.
However you conduct business, whether online, face-to-face, or across multiple selling platforms, employing well-trained staff ensures your customers’ needs are met. Without an adequate customer service team, you risk leaving patrons underserved and unfulfilled, which can have catastrophic consequences for your business. Falling short not only undermines repeat sales, but it also reflects on your retail reputation, prompting unhappy customers to share negative reviews and experiences on social media.
Cutting payroll costs at the expense of customer care simply doesn’t make sense, when working capital is available to help fund your staffing needs.
Time Is of the Essence
Hectic modern lifestyles leave little room for unnecessary delays. Consumers expect efficient service, so staffing shortfalls can sink your retail business. Whether your revenue comes from a mail-order call center, e-commerce presence, or brick-and-mortar sales, maintaining sufficient staffing levels is crucial to your success.
In a hurried world, there is evidence long checkout lines alone are enough to push shoppers out the door without making purchases. A study conducted by Ayden, a payment processing specialist, indicates consumers have no patience for checkout delays. Waiting in line is no longer seen as an acceptable part of the retail experience. According to the report, retailers may be losing more than $37 billion annually, as shoppers bail out, due to long checkout lines. As many as 86 percent of retail shoppers surveyed, admitted not following through with purchases, when they were faced with a time consuming checkout process.
Adequate staffing keeps your customers happy, and efficiently serving shoppers also enables you to boost profits, by processing more orders, in less time.
Staffing for Consistency
In today’s hyper-competitive retail settings, crafting positive customer experiences may be as central to your success as the products you sell. It’s important to project consistency across your multi-outlet retail business. Customers visiting your e-commerce site should come away with the same sense of quality customer care as buyers interacting with members of your in-person sales team.
Staffing ample associates to meet demand ensures your customers get timely answers to their questions, and leaves buyers satisfied, after making purchases. These positive consumer takeaways reinforce your brand image, assuring buyers they’ll have similar experiences, every time they visit your website or stores.
You Can’t Afford Missed Opportunities
With revenue growth and customer satisfaction at stake, you can’t afford to skimp on staffing. You already face stiff competition around every corner and shopping trends favor ease of access, above customer loyalty. That means you may only get one chance to make a sale and build a relationship with your customer.
Service provides a critical link for your business, allowing you to compete with the largest and most aggressive players in your retail niche. Though efficient payroll management is a key concern for your small business, directly impacting your bottom line, missed opportunities may ultimately cost you more than paying retail associates.
If you’re considering staff cuts, mirroring a trend among major retailers, think again. Though reducing payroll costs may provide short-term spending relief, service may suffer, leading to long-term losses.