Improving Customer Service – Guidance for Independent Retailers

Posted on: 3 November 2016

Although the retail industry in Australia is doing well overall, the health of independent retailing differs from state to state. In South Australia, for example, independent grocery stores take around a third of the market share, a diversity that is simply missing elsewhere in the country. Of course, regional variations will always account for why independent retailing is more successful in one location compared with another. Nevertheless, some stand-alone shops fail compared to their chain store rivals because they don't invest in good customer service adequately. What is that independent shop owners should be doing to make sure their enterprises succeed in a fast-moving and competitive marketplace?

Build On Your Adaptability

Some independent retail outfits are extremely niche in their offering and this can be a strength. If you are known for a certain expertise, then don't overdo your adaptability by diversifying into multiple sales areas. However, being adaptable can mean opening your shop at different times than you are used to in order to see if that makes you more attractive to certain clients. Maintain as high a profit margin as you are able, but for slow-moving stock be prepared to adapt and reduce your prices to promotional levels. Clearing shelves will allow you to try out new stock, after all.

Engage At Point of Sale

When customers have decided to make a purchase, it is essential they get to the point of sale as soon as possible. If you are serving someone else, or if a queue has formed at the till, then acknowledge the person waiting with eye contact, so they know you are getting to them as rapidly as possible. By investing in high-quality point of sale equipment you will be able to speed up all of your transactions which means less hanging around for customers. Furthermore, PDQs and wireless card terminals will allow you to offer more convenience to your customers, depending on their preferred payment method.

Offer a Feedback Loop

Many independent retailers are so comfortable with the way things are that they don't want to change – ever. This is no good because market demographics are always in flux. By offering customers a chance to feedback, you will simply understand them better and be able to deal with petty annoyances before they get out of hand. Likewise, longer-term customer trends can be identified with a feedback loop that is taken seriously, thereby allowing you to move with the times and not stay stuck in a retail rut.