It’s no secret that the retail marketplace is swamped. Consumers have never had so much choice when it comes to what they buy and where they shop. And their hunger for more choice and more value is insatiable. The good news for your brand, however, is that despite there being so many retailers to choose from, not all of them are offering the level of value or choice that the modern consumer craves. This gives your brand the opportunity to rise above, to stand out from the rest.
Brand differentiation sounds tougher than it is. There are almost endless ideas to consider that will help you stand out.
The most obvious way to push your brand ahead of the pack is to offer more. Everything comes down to putting your customer first: front and centre of the entire business. Delivering the best customer experience on the market is a surefire way to outpace the competition. Customer experience incorporates customer service, but service is merely one element of how your customer experiences your brand.
Begin by ensuring your customer has a seamless experience across all touchpoints. Whilst many will wish to shop on your desktop website, others may prefer mobile, but the bricks-and-mortar store is still, for many brands, the principal route for inbound customer traffic. You need to spread your scope of customer experience optimisation across all these channels and beyond, ensuring that each offers an equally positive and powerful customer experience.
At the heart of this, you need to get to know your customer intimately. You may have your buyer persona established, but are you watching them closely enough to take your knowledge of them to the next level? Employing tracking tactics across your website will help you gather data about their behaviour and preferences, but having someone rigorously studying your customers’ social media presence, how they behave and with what content they engage, will give you an even deeper understanding. Customer knowledge involves taking both a quantitative and qualitative approach.
Once you understand what your customers respond best to, you can begin formulating strategic ideas for offering them what they want in a way that your competition is not.
Some Strategic Ideas
Remembering that customers crave choice, we would recommend offering them the opportunity to customise the products they buy from you. This can be done by implementing 3D configuration software on your website, and is a powerful tool for driving your customer experience skyward.
Thoughtful touches make all the difference, so offering even small treats like free drinks or a goodie bag definitely raise a smile. But you can go further than this. In-store stylists are commonplace in high-end retail stores, but if your brand is more high-street or mid-level, this will be a delightful perk for your customers. A no-obligation, free personal shopping session doesn’t guarantee a sale, but it increases the probability of one, whilst delivering that all-important positive brand experience that can lead to word-of-mouth promotion. If offering customisation software on your website, ensure your in-store stylist has this to hand when attending to customers. Offering basic tailoring is another great way to drive up customer experience, even if it’s just adjusting hemlines or taking a dress in a little.
Many brands reward repeat custom, though the majority keep this incredibly basic. You can earn stamps towards a discount with every purchase, or points that add up to a cash equivalent. Some brands offer discounts for customer birthdays. These are all great ways to reward customers for coming back to you, but could you do more? Rather than a discount on their birthday, how about some free samples? What about a consistent 10% discount for ‘members’ who use your mobile app (and thus provide you valuable data for customer insight)? Customers also like to feel that they are special to you, and they should be. Personalised marketing certainly demonstrates that: and the more personal you can get (within reason!) the better.
Overall, the key to standing out in Retail is to be different. You have your unique selling point; the thing that makes you different by default. But how can you enunciate that difference? The answer is in the experience you offer your customer. If you cannot give a customer what they want straight away, bend over backwards to get it to them. Build an online community around your brand, show off with offering exclusive privileges for your brand advocates and returning customers. Most importantly, be available where your customers are, be relevant and connected, and communicate with openness, honesty and transparency.
Be creative, be generous, and deliver on your promises. If you strive to be the best version of your brand that you can be, you will stand head and shoulders above your competition… and your customers will notice!