In this series of posts, John Liebler shares his thoughts on how retailers can evolve and win as the industry changes. John’s perspective comes from his two decades worth of experience working at Signet, starting in full-time sales, becoming a district manager and eventually becoming his company’s divisional vice president of operations & strategic projects.
Retail is going through a revolution. Retailers who embrace this revolution and invest in customer engagement, team member growth, and innovative technologies will emerge as the dominant forces in the industry. There has been much reported recently about millennials, their shopping preferences and how currently they still prefer to shop in brick and mortar stores. While this may still be technically true, it is also true that foot traffic is dropping at an alarming rate – and brick and mortar stores are closing by the thousands.

Think about it. Why would anyone want to go into a retail store? Is it cheaper? No. Is it more convenient? Not with overnight and same day delivery. The reality is that shoppers have two choices:
1. Sit at home, browse online, undisturbed, and purchase with a simple click.
2. Get in their car, fight traffic, find a parking spot, dodge the mall walkers and end up in front of a frustrated sales person who is likely feeling the stress of hitting their sales goal.
So why does anyone still shop in stores? They do it for the experience. Customers want to see the product, to touch it, to feel it, to try it on, to lie in it, sit on it and to listen to it. And, for the human experience. They want the opportunity to connect, to be heard, to be helped and to be understood.
To thrive in the new retail world being created, Brick and Mortar retailers must either find a way to create a more efficient in-store experience where customers can get in and out without waiting on long lines, or create such compelling in-store experiences for their customers that going into the store is either entertaining or enriching and fulfills our basic human need for human interaction.

Creating the Ultimate Customer Experience. 
The economics of creating the ultimate customer experience are simple. Happy, emotionally connected customers buy more, buy more often and act as your best form of marketing.
Ask your customers: Customers are very willing to tell you how they feel and what they want. There are many simple ways to ask customers how they feel, from on line surveys to focus groups to social media. Retailers simply need to ask the questions and they will get the answers.
• Respond to your customers: Take the time to respond to every customer. Thank those customers who give positive responses and encourage them to advocate on your behalf. Reach out to those unhappy customers and make it right! Nothing is more damaging to a business than an unhappy customer with social media savvy!
• Transform your business: Take the customers’ feedback and transform your business model by putting the customer first. Listen to your customers, change your policies and empower your teams.
Pick the Right People. 
Build enthusiastic, highly motivated, customer focused teams that emotionally connect with your customers and drive results. Hire team members for who they are as well as for what they know. Hire coachable individuals who exhibit the soft skills and character traits critical to your business. Skills such as common sense, empathy, optimism, and strong work ethic are very difficult to teach. Hard skills can be taught to just about anyone if the team member is willing to learn and leaders are willing to teach.


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