4 Additional Answers
Absolutely Rosanne, in today's markets, you can find almost anything being sold by multiple retailers and with competition the way it is, pricing is also similar, so what sets one apart from another is the service you receive not only at the time of the sale but in the follow up interactions as well.
(Quality and Training Manager, OnPath Business Solutions)
Echoing the comments of my colleagues here, buying decisions are often driven by the 3 P's; Price, Product and People. While prices are negotiable and product is interchangeable, a weak link in your 'People' department is a sure-fire way to sink any business.
Brand loyalties die a little every day; especially in the retail field. It's not uncommon for a shopper to jump ship after years of loyalty simply due to poor Customer service. The market is competitive enough for them to do so. Shoppers are also a lot more choosey with where they spend their hard earned dollars and as such, they want to ensure they are getting the most stretch out of their dollar. This stretch includes how well they are treated by the staff.
It doesn't take much for your support team to 'dazzle' someone with outstanding Customer Service Skills. Most people are so accustomed to mediocre service that any additional effort to improve the quality of the service can seem extraordinary in the eyes of the Customer! Even the basics like eye contact, using please and thank you and addressing your customer by name can set you light-years apart from your competitors.
Why is excellent customer service so important? Simply put, it keeps you in business.
(Owner, Human Nature Management)
I am going to stray a bit from what my colleagues have said on this matter. Your question, Atif, is 'why' is customer service important in retail, and that assumes that it really is, in fact, the decisive factor. It isn't. Not at all. I, like a gazillion other consumers, jump online all the time looking for price. Price, price, price. I would LIKE to patronize the companies with better customer service, but if they do not also have the price, they are not likely to gain my patronage. If I have a problem later and have to fight for resolution, I will bitch a lot. Nevertheless, the next purchase I make I will be out shopping price again.
So the question becomes 'is' customer service important in the retail industry, and now the answer becomes a resounding yes. While not the first thing today's consumers are likely to look for, it will be the differentiater when price is equalized. Once price is in line, customer service adds perceived value, making your company a better choice for the consumer.
(IT Executive, Large federal systems integration firm)
Good twist on the theme and I tend to agree. However, there is an eventual “cost” associated with insisting on the lowest price. That cost will be your inability to touch and compare 2 similar products because the showroom (retail store) went out of business. They may have had a lot of foot traffic but the sales went to an online retailer whose overhead could have been zero (drop ship) or a light bulb. As a point of reference CIO Magazine published an article that stated ““Companies are getting out of the human interaction business as fast as they can”.
When we remodeled our bathroom, we went to the local Lowes to look at, and handle, a number of fixtures. My wife found that it was less expensive online but I made the case that, since Lowes was paying for the overhead that allowed us to make a decision, they should get the sale even though it was 20% to 30% more. I didn’t win all the time on this but we did make some local purchases which led me to rethinking retailing in the future.
The next generation retailer will be, predominantly, a real estate play. Manufacturers will pay for shelf space to display their products. Displays and rentals will depend on their particular nature such as, basic shelf, end-cap, center aisle, or assembled display (for a grill as an example). Customers can shop, touch, and compare products and then order right from their phone, tablet, or kiosk right in the store. Since the manufacturers are paying for the space, the orders can go anywhere – even Amazon or the factry as long as the physical store is credited with the display. This, in turn, will foster greater demand for retail display space.
For those items that would entail long or expensive delivery times (like a garden tractor) may be purchased and delivered on the spot. The same goes for garden type items; can you imagine ordering mulch online unless it was bulk from a local supplier?