As retail storefronts begin to open up, owners and operators are hungry for advice on recovering, and moving their businesses forward. Loop Advisor and retail veteran Linda Johansen-James was recently featured in IRG magazine to share her knowledge on staying relevant in the retail industry. At the crux of Linda’s recommendations is adapting to the customer. Below, we share 5 tips from Linda, and how Loop can help you get there!
A bit about Linda: she has led American Kiosk Management (AKM) to amass over 600 staffed locations, 1800 employees, and 1000 automated stores throughout North America, Australia and New Zealand! Along with Max James and their team, AKM sold over $1.7 billion in sales and grew to be the largest owner-operators in the world. They also became the first to introduce automated retail into malls in 2006 with Proactive skincare.
Linda has seen the industry evolve immensely throughout her 22 years in the industry. To be successful, it’s important to adapt to these changes. With her track record, she clearly knows a thing or two on what that means for a brick and mortar retailer.
We won’t keep you waiting any longer. Here are Linda’s top 5 recommendations for staying relevant:
1. Give customers an amazing experience
“Amazon has made it so people don’t want to leave their homes, so you need to give them a reason to come to your store…your employees are your frontline workers and that is why [you need to create] a staffing service that ensures that the customer experience is what it needs to be.”
In order to bring customers to a storefront, an excellent experience is crucial—and your staff play a large role in executing this! In addition to being friendly and knowledgeable, Linda emphasizes their availability to help. Now, as people want to be in and out of store as quickly and seamlessly as possible, customers will be expecting immediate service.
2. Ask for feedback on new products
“Test market products and services on a smaller scale before you go into full launch mode… Starting small and getting customer feedback is essential for success. Knowing what the consumer wants and giving it to them ensures a long-term customer relationship.”
The benefits of this strategy is two-fold. First, it allows you to perfect new products before committing to a large order. Second, and more importantly, it makes customers feel heard—and that is important for developing relationships with customers and ultimately building brand loyalty.
3. Embrace technology
“Whether we like it or not, consumers are tech-savvy and crave fast and efficient…Technology is crucial for retail customer experiences.”
Connected, frictionless omnichannel experiences are at the forefront coming out of Covid-19. Customers want seamless connectivity between online and offline channels. Linda, for example, cites the ability to order online, and pick up in store.
Here at Loop, we believe that contactless technologies are imperative to the success of omnichannel engagement. With Loop’s digital wallet pass, the user now has access to a unified gateway to your brand and loyalty program. For the retailer, they can directly interact with their customers, without any physical exchange. Loop’s latest ID verification system also assists with the reduction of human contact, while ensuring that the customer experience is still exceptional.
4. Embrace mobility
“Every consumer has a mobile lifestyle and they wish to do business with companies who do the same.”
We are seeing continual growth in mobile device usage worldwide, so it is in retailers’ best interests to pivot their operations to include mobile technology. According to the IRG article, retailers that have embraced mobile point of sale (POS) technology saw significant growth in sales. Loop takes this service a step further with its digital receipting platform, allowing customers to automatically receive a digital copy through SMS, email or mobile wallet. Aligning with the contactless movement, Loop ensures that all steps of the customer experience can be digital if that is preferred—to keep environments feelings safe and secure post-Covid-19.
5. Success leaves clues
“It’s best to find a model that is already working and tweak it.”
With customer expectations constantly changing, it’s not a bad idea to first explore what others are doing successfully. While entering untapped markets is great, it can also be risky. Don’t forget that success can also stem from a tried-and-true foundation—just elevate it and make it your own. What we think Linda is trying to say is…work smarter, not harder!