DR PRADEEP SALGAONKER writes on the various aspects to deal with the pent-up market demand. While entrepreneurs and retailers shed light on various ways to sell their wares in light of the pent-up demand, this festive season
With Christmas and New Year round the corner, majority of the people are busy shopping for their New Year attire and look.
This is catalysed by the agony of losing out on opportunities to celebrate the previous Christmas and New Year with full fun and frolic owing to the prevailing pandemic situation.
And thus nobody wants to miss out on the opportunity now, to celebrate with family and friends in order to show off their latest fashion and style. This has automatically created pent-up demand for all categories of consumer products bringing cheer to retailers and other businesses.
People with surplus money in hand and lost opportunities to spend on discretionary products are eager to spend a few thousands without thinking twice. However, though this heightened demand is a good sign for businesses, it is an equally tall challenge to meet and keep up to the expectations and needs of customers. Retailers need to take few actions proactively not to miss out on this opportunity.
Here are a few things that retailers and businesses can do to satisfactorily meet the market demand and expectations in this time:
“When it comes to the old stock, I often give them as gifts to my regular clients. Usually, after the festive season, I put up the old stocks on sale where we offer big discounts; and some, we give away to charity, after cutting off the labels, especially during Christmas time. We always give our regular customers first preference when it comes to their orders and customising outfits for them”
Providing fresh and renewed merchandise suiting to customers’ renewed personalities would mean that a store understands their customers and lives up to their expectations. A conscious movement from mass customisation and catering to the masses, to individual customisation and meeting individual customer needs is the order of the day. Any retailer that strives to achieve this would be more preferred over the other store.
A fresh look of the store with refreshing merchandise is always welcomed by customers and this automatically leads to increased footfalls to such stores. Holding and displaying the same old merchandise, because it did not sell in the last one or two years, would put off customers, as no customer likes to see the same merchandise being displayed over a long period of time.
Better sell off such merchandise separately, even at loss, by offering discounted rates or ‘one plus one free’ type of promotional schemes and make space for new products on your shelves.
”The stock in store depends on availability, lead times, cost of ordering, MOQ. One may keep 6 months stock of Class C items, to avoid the hassle of reordering every now and again. For an expensive item, one may keep a 1 months stock, assuming lead time is say a week and the product is easily available. These days, given logistics issues especially for imported products one has to think carefully, as normal process are failing”
Stock adequately with wide range of choices. Ensuring optimum inventory is a herculean task for a business; however it becomes mandatory to do this exercise for survival. Too much inventory would increase the costs, while on the flipside, stocking less variety and quantity would result in a lost sales opportunity. Similarly, while stocking products, the length, breadth and depth of merchandise mix and the number of each item to be held, has to be considered with due seriousness. Many times, sales are lost because of non-availability of customers’ preferred choice of item, such as the size, colour, fitting etc., and this should be avoided at all times. Thus, carrying optimum inventory or making an item available (if not in stock) as early as possible would make customers stay with you. Striking the balance and maintaining optimum stock levels for your business is by no means an easy task. In fact, it can take a long time to perfect your stock levels.
Learn the art of how much you need to stock and eliminate Out of Stock issues for good.
“At Delfino’s we ensure that at every counter there is a slip placed to ask every customer to write down their requirements if it is not available on the shelves. Service availability and punctuality in delivery is the hallmark at Delfino’s. We give customers a sense of satisfaction to shop under a comfortable environment at the same price that is available in other stores and the municipal markets”
Customer pain points are a specific problem that customers or prospective customers of your business experience in the marketplace. They are essentially any problems that the customer may experience along their customer journey. Now, of course, these problems can be extremely diverse, and identifying all of them may not be as easy as you initially think. Getting to the bottom of your customer pain points involves a degree of thinking outside the box and putting yourself in the shoes of your customers. Listen and understand customers’ needs and hearts.
Get to know their pain points – what hurts them, what they are looking to overpower, what will make them feel being in control of the situation etc., and manage them to their satisfaction.
Customers today want to exercise their power over the dealings they are getting into and letting them do so will be a wise strategy to manage customers satisfactorily.
“At Ulhas Jewellers, we believe in nurturing a long-term relationship with our customers through trust and service. We have always dedicated our efforts towards building loyalty. But at times, it becomes essential to use short term push market strategies to boost sales, especially for certain occasions such as Dhanteras, Akshay tritiya or launch of a new jewellery collection”
Consumer incentives are rewards given out to the ‘customers of a business’ for brand-building purposes. An effective way to build customer loyalty and increase sales, consumer incentives can include reward points, cashback, store credits, branded sway, gift cards, bonuses with free purchases, etc. Use a push strategy by offering an incentive for customers to visit your store. Aim at increasing the footfalls and, if you have something to offer to them, then their very presence within the store would result in sales. Later, the challenge would be to ensure increasing size of basket and building relationships.
Giving incentives will incur some cost but the trade-off from not having customers would be much beneficial. Offer irresistible incentives that would automatically stimulate people to walk into the store. Offering incentives to your customers is a chance to bring you closer to a one-to-one relationship with your customers. You can maximize this impact by taking the time to truly understand your buyers by asking for their feedback.
“When a company genuinely cares for the well-being of their people and you truly put your employees first, it helps in giving your customers great service. More than relying on certain tactics to make a sale, I feel that from a company’s core there needs to be a genuine feeling of care for one’s employees and putting them first. If that is done I think the customer gets taken care of very well”
Reinforce the feeling of customer care and customer focus among employees. This is an on-going exercise and one needs to continuously reinforce the principles of customer focus among employees. The sensibility exhibited by the nerve ends – the employees – towards customers would ultimately determine customers’ behaviour and actions of purchase or walk out empty handed.
Just like the fresh look of merchandise mix, have employees exhibit a fresh smile and care towards customers can foster long term relationships. And yes, help employees do this by meeting their needs and ensuring their happiness, too. When employees have this emotional commitment, then they are engaged employees who genuinely care about their work and their company. Engaged employees don’t focus on the paycheck alone; instead, they work to deliver the company’s goals because they want to see it succeed. When looking at how to engage employees and how to motivate your team, try to truly emphatise with them.
“Today’s customers seek information as much from unknown credible reviewers than ‘word of mouth’ of known friends. A large part of the buy decision is made much before the footfall. Hence, creating an online social media presence with responsiveness is key to provide window shopping in today’s online world for offline offtake”
Optimise on the O2O (Online to Offline) customer journey. Persuade the movement from ‘Online search to Offline action’. Adopt the ‘phygital’ model of engaging with customers. In present times majority of the people adopt the ‘Hop On Hop Off’ strategy for information search and purchase action. Meeting their demands by correctly providing everything they want to know about your business and products would influence them to shop with you. Being truthful and keeping promises made is need of the day. In an era where online marketing is crucial to business success, it can be easy to forget to include offline marketing. However, this could prove to be a big mistake. Most modern-day marketers understand this. They know that customers switch between physical and digital worlds freely while they move through the buyer’s journey. This makes Online-to-Offline marketing an effective way for businesses to reach customers at all touch points to drive engagement and sales.
There are numerous ways to enhance the customer experience by utilising digital technology on site to make shopping a more enjoyable time for consumers – and a more profitable campaign for marketers.
Target Individual Customer
“We target individual customers using traditional methods like newspapers advertisements and now social media being the most popular amongst customers. We constantly observe customers and try to develop insights into their pain points and establish a good process with the right checks and balances to ensure great customer service delivery”
Mass customisation is moving out and individual customisation is gaining momentum in all spheres of business. Be it the product features, promotion or packaging, it makes a great deal of sense to customise it to individual customer. Exploit every opportunity to customise to individual needs. Even if the product remains same, try to offer customised packaging wherever possible. Make the products get the feel of luxury in the true sense. And, don’t forget to deliver excellent customer service. Wherever possible customise the service offering by providing something that the customer really wants but doesn’t tell. Understand the unstated needs of your customers and fulfil that, to entice them.
“A proper ratio has to be maintained between content and the total dimensions of the signage so that the content doesn’t look tiny from a distance. The colours should be bright and attractive, or if the content has lighter colours then the base colour should be contrasting. Light effects also facilitate easy navigation for readers and potential customers”
Make the best use of the silent salesman ‘the signage’ both within the store and outside. Having bright, colourful, and attractive signage outside the store, that’s clearly visible from a distance, acts as a tall and strong force inviting customers into your store.
Once inside the store, signage should do the job of providing all possible information, like directions, product categories, discounts, schemes, pricing, etc., without the presence of a real salesman.
If a retailer implements these few actions seriously then nothing can stop the store from making brisk business. The pent-up demand is real; people are out on revenge spending and only serious businesses will make hay while the sun shines.