Following reports that sales and footfall were lower than expected during the Easter break, retailers are being urged to remain positive and focus on the long-term benefits of maintaining and improving their customer experience.
Despite reports that footfall was down by 1.9% compared to 2013*, Alan Watson, the MD of retail IT support services company Barron McCann is urging retailers not to be disheartened and to continue with a long term strategy of delivering a consistent customer shopping experience.
Watson, who has over three decades of experience working with large and smaller retailers, has seen the many peaks and troughs so common to the retail sector over the years. He believes that it is critical for retailers to continue sowing the seeds for future growth and that all the hard work they are putting into delivering a great customer experience will ensure that they are in a prime position to reap the rewards when customer confidence improves.
Watson commented: "There is always so much focus on performance compared to previous years, but retailers know better than anyone how they are performing in store or online. We know from our work with retailers of all sizes, including major supermarkets, that customer service and satisfaction are often of more importance to their overall performance than footfall or unit sales, which fluctuate all the time.
Rather than worrying whether one retailer has outperformed another this week or whether this time last year sales were higher, what is more important is that customer satisfaction has remained constant and ideally, has actually improved. A rise in customer satisfaction is in my opinion, a much clearer indicator of how a retailer is performing than a snapshot of sales at a particular moment in time."
With increasing pressure on retailers to adopt new technology as part of their sales offering, Watson advises them to take their time and not rush into launching a new concept without making sure it enhances the shopping experience and that they can actually maintain it.
"Adopting any rash 'me too' strategies just to keep up with others is unlikely to do retailers any favours in the current climate. Moreover, this is a time for ensuring that you deliver a service that not only meets, but exceeds the expectations of your customers. High levels of customer service, consistent EPOS performance and streamlined multichannel experiences are the order of the day. It's not as much about staying ahead of the game, as ensuring you remain a key player in today's game."