Save the shops! A mantra I’ve heard numerous times having worked in retail for the last 20 years. Yes, consumers love shopping online, but there’s no doubt they want to preserve the ‘real’ shopping experience especially for high-value tech/electrical products.
Whether they are looking to upgrade an existing device, buy into a new product category such as the smart home, or make a distress purchase to replace a product that has failed, consumers are looking for a solution to a lifestyle problem. As a retailer, it’s within your power to provide this solution, offering consumers the right product for their needs and, in doing so, reinforcing why traditional retail is still the best platform to buy technology products.
I think there’s a big disconnect between what consumers need from retailers and the experience they get. We’ve recently seen the news that Maplin has collapsed into administration, yet the sale of tech/electrical goods is on the increase – one of the fastest growing categories. Consumer electronics retailing lends itself like no other as a tool for retailers to be more dynamic in showcasing solutions and brands to lure consumers.
The information gap
Let’s look for example at the popularity of streaming and how it’s driving the sale of hardware. Streaming is becoming increasingly the norm for many, curating the music, TV and media that’s preferred at a time that suits consumers' lifestyle. Netflix revenues have increased 36% year-over-year and Apple's purchase of Shazam for $400m shows the market is continuing to evolve.
These brands are the new media giants, beating down the once dominant studios who are now consolidating to survive. But without hardware and devices, none of this is possible. I’m ensconced in this world and most of the consumers we speak to have very little understanding of what hardware to purchase and want help and advice.
This is where retailers can win, but they are not making the most of their assets – the team on the ground. These people are the face of a retail brand, interacting with the customer, the first port of call, the golden ticket to success, the ones that can transform your business but only if appropriately trained – and therein lies the problem.
Make the most of being face-to-face
That first face to face interaction is critical; sales staff should be asking key questions of consumers to discover why they are in the store and their needs, budget and motivations.
Are they looking to buy new, upgrade a device or has something broken down and needs replacing? What do they currently have? What specific features do they require? Where will it be used? How often? Is it a primary or secondary device? What is their preferred price range? A customer wants reassurance that the product will meet their needs and solve their ‘problem’.
It is important to ensure your staff can demonstrate the product, are trained on core ranges and brands so that they can explain the benefits to shoppers and don’t make the mistake of ignoring what the shopper has told them so that the features link naturally to the customer’s lifestyle or specific needs. This could make all the difference to their decision to purchase, helping to close the sale.
Shoppers need to know how the product will solve their unique ‘problem’ so that they walk away satisfied and hopefully come back for more. Online will never be able to provide this level of service so retailers need to take control of their destiny and provide consumers with an experience that was worth the trip.
Dan Todaro is managing director of Gekko