It’s no secret that we are experiencing unprecedented times across retail.
Customers now have access to anything and everything they want in seconds right from their smartphones. Delivery is available on demand for everything from a new car to breakfast sandwiches.
Frictionless retail, where customers can walk into a store, pick up what they want and walk right out—completely bypassing the checkout counter and those important impulse sales—is not only here, it’s expanding to markets around the country.
Amazon and Google have developed devices that allow customers to reorder products and have them delivered right to their front doors in a matter of hours with the simple push of a button. Scared yet? You should be. When you combine these growing trends with other concerning issues, such as the FDA’s assault on tobacco and the growth of electric cars and alternative fuels, which are curbing visits to the convenience store, concerns abound.
All hope is not lost, according to Justin Champion, author of “Inbound Content: A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing Content Marketing.” That’s because customers respond to emotional connections. That’s why convenience stores must work harder at creating a story for your brand that resonates with your customers.
“Stories create emotion and emotion is what people remember,” Champion said. “They help you engage and, more importantly, remind customers who you are, what your values are and why you’re a good business for your community.”
People are bombarded with messages these days. Google processes over 3.8 million searches per minute. That’s a lot of people looking for information. This is happening because the way people buy has changed.
For retailers, the message is clear: You must provide an engaging and persuasive offering to pull customers into your store. Champion calls this inbound marketing.
“Your goal is resonating with people,” Champion said. “A well-crafted story helps you create contrast between choices. It helps prospective customers make sense of the decision they’re about to make.”
Champion offered these tips for retailers focused on providing outstanding customer service:
Know your characters. All stories have characters. With inbound marketing, the people are central to the story. When potential customers can get the things they want and see themselves as characters in your story, they’ll be more likely to return to your store. Simply put, it makes them feel special and when they feel special, you have created a bond that will be hard to break.
Resolve conflicts. Once you understand who the customers are and what they want, it’s important to understand the potential conflicts they face. Champion suggested shopping your stores as a customer would. Identify potential problem points and fix them.
“You need to understand the buyer’s journey and the conflicts they might face at each stage and resolve them,” Champion said. “This shows your customers that you respect their time and value their business.”
Connect with your customers on an emotional level. TOMS is a slip-on shoe company that focuses on spreading social good. Here is its powerful story: Everyone needs shoes, but not everyone has the money to pay for them. So, with each product purchased, TOMS donates a pair of shoes to a child in need. This strikes an emotional chord with its customers and compels them to buy.
“This is an example of how a shoe retailer created a much bigger story that makes their customers feel like they’re changing the world by simply purchasing a pair of shoes,” Champion said. “And they’ve sold more than 75 million pairs of shoes, which means they’ve also given over 75 million pairs of shoes to children in need.”
That is a powerful story and customers are proud to participate. Remember, people want and need to feel connected. If you tell the right story, you can capture their attention, connect with them emotionally and win their loyalty.