EXPERT COLUMN: How to Optimize Your Store for Fall Sales
In May, retail sales increased 0.6 percent, rising to a level that was 4.3 percent higher than the previous year and setting a pace capable of sustaining much of the economy’s now four-year-old recovery. This is good news for retailers, especially since economists predict consumer spending will continue well throughout the second half of 2013.
As summer comes to a close, the strengthening economy offers grocers numerous sales opportunities by offering promotions on late-summer and fall merchandise. But to fully leverage these opportunities, grocers need to organize for success and develop strategies for tapping into consumers’ increased spending on fall events and gatherings.
Cater To Consumers’ Wants
To benefit from fall sales opportunities, grocers should utilize customer intelligence to match products and offers with consumer choices and shopping preferences. For example, during the fall, many shoppers will be hitting up grocery stores for lunchbox fare as their kids head back to school. But while some parents are looking for cheap deals on juice boxes and fruit snacks, other families prefer to purchase only organic foods. By capturing accurate customer intelligence, grocers can better align food or drink sales with various customer groups and heighten the caliber of customer experiences.
With the knowledge gained from customer intelligence, grocers are better equipped to meet the shopping preferences of multiple market segments. The caveat is that grocery brands need to ensure that they have the inventory and in-store expertise in place to maintain the quality of the customer experience for various types of consumers.
For example, when Monday Night Football kicks off in the fall, sports fans will stock up on party foods like wings and beer. But some fans may also pick up vegetarian and non-alcoholic options for party guests who don’t eat meat or drink alcohol. This means that grocers need to make sure they have knowledgeable staff who can answer customer inquiries about unique items, as well as reliable supply chains for specialty products.
Although grocers can use customer intelligence to increase revenue and improve customer experiences for consumers in the fall, they need to support that intelligence with exceptional customer service and effective supply chain management.
Drive Fall Sales Using Customer Intelligence
The strengthened economy should help increase fall grocery sales, but it will also require customer intelligence monitoring at the location level to maintain sales momentum and customer loyalty. Grocers can optimize their stores to improve sales using Customer Experience Management (CEM) programs that provide local managers with customer intelligence, which benefits them in several ways:
- Actionable insights: Today’s programs turn complex customer feedback into simple insights and clear actions, providing local managers with accountability for the customer experience.
- Consistent delivery: CEM programs guarantee consistency across every location by ensuring that all store managers are aware of key elements of the brand promise and how they can best deliver it.
- Guided execution: The best CEM programs eliminate time spent reading and interpreting reports by coaching store managers on which areas need the most attention and how to execute necessary changes. These programs create action plans for managers that are tailored to certain locations based on the needs of their specific teams.
Grocers can employ CEM programs to optimize their stores and get the most out of incoming fall traffic while ensuring a great customer experience for fall consumers. Insights gathered from customer intelligence can be utilized to maximize sales and draw in new customers past the fall – a loyalty-building opportunity that grocers should not miss.
Gary Edwards is chief customer officer at Empathica, a leading global provider of Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions to the world’s most respected multi-unit enterprises. Edwards is responsible for oversight of sales, marketing, client strategy, account management, marketing science and retail insights.