How to Make the Shopping Experience More Personal for Customers

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Brick-and-mortar retailers face a lot of competition these days, especially with the explosion of online shopping. While online shops can offer convenience and competitive prices, there’s one thing that a digital experience can’t offer: personalized, in-person service.

Research shows 40 percent of consumers buy more from retailers that personalize their shopping experience.

Offering personalized service is often a goal for many businesses, but how do you go about doing it? What can owners and staff do to make the shopping experience more personal for customers?

Here are five ideas that brick-and-mortar stores can use to personalize their customer experience:

1. Collect customer information

It’s not enough for businesses to assume they know their customers. These days it’s vital to have detailed customer profiles. Let’s say you know your main customer base consists of busy parents – That’s a start. But think of the marketing opportunities you have if you know each of those busy parents names, faces, and details like they’re deal-hunting moms between the age of 29-35 and are willing to splurge on health-conscious foods for their children.

Now you can create promotions that are specific to these customers. For instance, a baby retailer could send a text promotion that gives that segment of customers 20 percent off any purchase of whole grain snacks. Research shows 73 percent of consumers prefer to do business with brands that use personal information to make their experience more relevant.

How do you collect this kind of information? There are a variety of options. For starters, you’ll need a way to contact customers, either an email or phone number. From there, you can send surveys to collect information, or gather and note intel through systems that are already in place, like your loyalty program. A loyalty program can show you specific information on buying behaviors that you can use to personalize your marketing efforts. Some loyalty programs also allow you to make specific notes about each of your customers on their profiles and create tags.

2. Offer one-on-one service options

Customers don’t want to feel like a part of a crowd, they want to feel as though your business is there to serve their specific needs. Consider offering one-on-one services to your customers.

A clothing retailer, for example, could offer fashion consultations. During a 30-minute session, an employee offers advice to a customer and helps them find clothes that flatter their figure. A retailer that sells office furniture can offer to do a free on-site design assessment for companies looking to remodel. A computer repair shop can offer to do a free diagnostic check on individual computers.

Think of a way to offer a unique personalized experience for your customers.

3. Offer a few extras

Some businesses don’t have the resources to dedicate employees to individual customers, but you can still make adjustments that make the customer experience feel personal.

For instance, offer to carry large purchases to the car, give customers an option for free-gift wrapping or offer small comforts like free coffee and snacks that show you’re attentive to the needs of your customers.

Host events to get to know your customers

Many businesses make an effort to get to know their most loyal customers. The barista at a coffee shop, for example, can probably name a dozen regular customers that come in for their morning fix, but learning more than that can be tough.

To get to know your customers better, consider hosting events that allow you and your employees to have a conversation that’s longer than a 30-second interaction.

Consider hosting a BBQ outside of your store, an after hours sale for VIP customers or a behind-the-scenes tour of your business. Or, consider hosting a seminar that’s tied to your business.

Any kind of small group activity that allows you to interact with customers on a more personal level will help you remember those customers later on and enable you to interact with them on a more personal level.

4. Be part of the community

Rather than reaching out to individual customers, have customers come to you. How? Be part of your community. Join the chamber of commerce, donate to the local school, offer internships to students or coach a T-ball league. When business owners are active in the community it doesn’t go unnoticed.

People in the neighborhood will get to know you and inquire about your business. By building personal relationships outside of your business, you’ll likely notice those same people become loyal customers in time.

What do you do to offer personalized service? Explain the efforts that you take, and the results that you get in comment section below.

Lisa Furgison
About the Author
Lisa Furgison

Lisa is a writer at FiveStars, a freelance journalist, and co-owner of a media company, McEwen's Media.

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