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Brick-and-Mortar Retail in an E-commerce World: Why is it Still Relevant?

It’s snowing, it’s windy, it’s dark out, and your feet hurt. Why? Because you’ve been standing for hours in a Black Friday line that wraps halfway around Best Buy. You’ve been eyeing that fancy flat screen TV for weeks. You shiver in your parka and think to yourself, “I wish I had just stayed in and done my shopping online this year.” It appears that this is the attitude of many consumers. It also seems like in store retail is dying, or at least changing. So, in an age of online shopping, how can brick-and-mortar retail stores stay relevant?

Brick-and-Mortar Retail’s Funeral March…Or is it?

Let’s quickly jump back to our Black Friday example. This past year, Cyber Monday shoppers spent over $1.5 billion more than those on Black Friday. And this is merely a reflection of a larger trend. In recent years, online sales have far surpassed brick-and-mortar sales. For example, online retail giant Amazon is the epitome of ease and efficiency in online shopping. Online shopping allows consumers to access retailers at their convenience and from the comfort of their own home. But the one thing online shopping doesn’t have? A meaningful, personal customer service experience.

The Game Changer: Customer Service

Offering quality products is still a key aspect of retail, but studies show that customer service is also critical in a customer’s decision to purchase. And a truly impactful customer service experience can only occur in-person. Brick-and-mortar retail businesses trying to get ahead are upping their customer service game and improving consumers’ in-store experience. Don’t believe me? Believe the research:

  • 73% of consumers say that interacting with a friendly employee or customer service representative makes their experience memorable and increases brand loyalty.
  • 52% of consumers have made an additional purchase after having received excellent customer service.
  • Americans are willing to pay 17% more to do business with companies providing quality customer service.
  • 89% of consumers switched to a competitor after receiving poor customer service.
  • Companies with quality customer service can increase revenue by 4%-8%.
  • 54% of consumers say they have higher expectations for customer service than they did last year.

The Necessity of Quality Customer Service

Now, we’ve probably all experienced poor customer service that was slow and oozed apathy. But we’ve also all probably encountered an empathetic customer service provider who anticipated your needs, ensured you had a personal experience, and aided you with quick and efficient service. Above all, it’s these in-person interactions that make an experience memorable for a customer and set your business apart. It will also increase your customer return rate. Customer service is the most important factor in someone’s brand loyalty. In other words, it’s a big deal.

Overall, quality customer service will contribute to your brand’s image. It will get people in your store, create a strong rapport with customers, and totally differentiate you from the competition. Simply put, excellent customer service is no longer a mere suggestion—it’s a necessity.

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