I have opined on many occasions that retail is dead or dying (I may have also contributed personally to its slow decay). A recent study, however, from Blackhawk Engagement Solutions, an international incentives and engagement company, may offer a ray of hope to small retailers.
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The study, a compilation of two distinct studies, examines the means, the devices and the influences along millennials’ paths to purchase.
The first study was conducted in April 2015 and surveyed more than 500 millennials, focusing on specific shopping behaviours. The second study was conducted in October 2015 and included an additional 500 millennials and their mobile app and gift card preferences.
The results demonstrated that millennial shoppers are plugged into mobile and social shopping and are completely disrupting historically traditional shopping patterns.
“Millennials are leading a change in purchase trends,” said Rodney Mason, global vice president of marketing at Blackhawk Engagement Solutions.
“As such, it’s incredibly important for retailers and retail marketers to understand how to appeal to this demographic. Millennials are savvy shoppers and many have come of age in a post-recession era, and our our research shows that this group routinely comparison shops on mobile to get the best value and shopping experience. The market, however, has not yet capitalised on those habits.”
Retail entrepreneurs can certainly learn from the key findings the study, which can provide guidance as they examine and refine their strategies this holiday.
1. Smartphones are a primary means to connect to the Internet
No surprise, but smartphones are a dominant method of connection to the web for millennials, with 89 percent of them using the devices to connect, vs. 75 percent who use laptops, 45 percent tablets and 37 percent desktop computers.
Retailers therefore need to have a mobile first strategy if they want to stay relevant with this generation.
2. Social media is number one for shopping information
Without a doubt, millennials are connected to social media. More important, they are using it as their primary source to find and hear about products, special deals and shopping news.
The study also found that the traditional methods of advertising, television (six) and print media (seven), both fall behind other digital advertising methods. Retailers need to at the very least integrate digital media with their traditional advertising strategy – if not replace it altogether.
3. Millennials are sensitive to price
When it comes to price sensitivity, 95 percent of respondents said they have more or the same sensitivity to price as last year. Additionally, price has the greatest influence on millennials’ purchase decisions above all other factors, including quality, brand, store and availability.
This is surprising because a growing economy or shopper segment typically leads to less sensitivity to price, but millennials clearly are bucking that trend. More than likely, this is due to the simple fact that they have the ability instantly to price compare and save on almost anything they buy.
4. Google and Amazon are favourites for comparing prices on smartphones
Amazon (46 percent) and Google (43 percent) dominate millennials’ preference for price comparison activities.
Love it or hate it, the reality is that millennials (and more so older generations) are using mobile devices to price compare and save, even while in your store or on your website.
To compete, retailers need either to offer competitive pricing or more value than consumers can get on Amazon, Google or other large retail outlets.
5. Millennials prefer higher-value rebates over instant discounts across shopping categories
For categories including electronics, entertainment, sporting goods, clothing, wireless plans and even groceries, the majority of millennials indicated they would choose a higher-value rebate offer over an instant discount.
What this means is that retailers can offer rebates that provide more savings (and greater value) than simply cutting and matching a price or offering an instant discount.
When retailers figure in the value of unredeemed rebates, it could ultimately wash out any price cut. Retailers should tread with extreme caution, however, and assure that any rebate program is not difficult to redeem or deceptive, which could end up harming your brand long term.
6. Millennials will consider “Buy Online, Pickup In Store” as an incentive
An impressive 88 percent of millennials say they would consider buying online and picking up in store to save R100 on a R500 item.
For retailers who ship, offering a discount to pick up in store not only creates perceived value but also saves shipping and handling cost and drives traffic to the store.
7. Gift cards are believed to be safest for online shopping
Millennials are sensitive to cyber security issues and identity fraud, and 64 percent of millennials believe that gift cards are safer to use online than any other digital payment method.
Moreover, 66 percent believe gift cards limit identity fraud. By offering gift cards or alternative payment options, such as Paypal, retailers can attract sensitive buyers who are looking for alternatives to Amazon.
8. Millennials embrace loyalty programmes
While millennials are much less likely to be loyal to a brand, 69 percent belong to a retail loyalty program, and 70 percent of those are happy with their programmes.
While the preferences of millennials are changing, requiring entrepreneurs to examine brand loyalty in an entirely new way, retailers can still drive return sales by creating a transparent and value-added loyalty programme.
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These shopping habits probably are not news for most big retailers, but for smaller retailers who struggle to compete and stay relevant in today’s digital landscape, attracting millennials may be as easy – and as affordable – as understanding and adapting to the non-traditional shopping habits of this growing market of millennials shoppers.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
3 Ways You Should Use Data Science to Skyrocket Sales
This post will show you 3 ways to keep your business stable and profitable, successfully.
Sales business is getting harder and more competitive day after day. Both physical retail and e-commerce offer a wide variety of brands and products, which makes it more difficult for an average sales person to seal the deal with potential customers.
Sales professionals have to be clever and extremely analytical before even approaching their clients. That’s why they use data science to skyrocket business. Data science is a contemporary statistical model which seeks to provide meaningful information from large amounts of complex data.
According to the study, this type of business analytics is expected to generate almost $170 billion in 2018. If you want to keep the business stable and highly profitable, you should consider embracing data science in everyday work. This post will show you 3 ways to do it successfully.
Data science is based on artificial intelligence that has enough analytical power to give you remarkable insights into the traits of all prospects. Using this tool, you can personalise sales negotiations so as to match the exact needs of each client individually.
For example, data science will tell you the basic demographic features like age, gender, and location. But it goes beyond that and reveals income levels, professional titles, or personal interests based on online searches. All these inputs allow you to customise offers according to client’s preferences.
Related: Can Your Marketing Team Speak Data?
At the same time, you can prioritise prospects based on company size, predicted revenue, long-term potential, industry influence, or any other feature you might consider relevant to your business. This way, you can dedicate more time to the more important prospects and increase profitability just because you know who to talk to first.
It’s much simpler to sell products to existing customers than to attract new buyers. Data science can help you to upsell products and increase the profit using the base of loyal clients. The system is simple – data science analyses the purchasing history and the preferences of every customer and suggests complementary products. That way, you make sure that your upselling suggestions stay relevant, which not only reduces bounce rates but also strengthens the base of loyal clients.
Create Ambitious Sales Quotas
Creating sales quotas has never been an easy job. Most companies are selling dozens of products in many cities, regions, or even countries, which makes it difficult for sales managers to manually determine ambitious but realistic quotas for their agents.
It’s actually one of the biggest reasons why managers underperform and fail to meet company requirements. However, data science makes this task a lot easier because it can automatically conduct the research and decide how much is enough for every sales representative in your team.
Company Aussie Writings uses data science to make sales forecasts and here’s what they say about it: “The new business analytics model goes through huge volumes of data within minutes, detect sales trends, and gives us a good plan for each agent, product, or region. With such powerful tool at our disposal, we don’t put too much pressure on sales representatives, but we also don’t have to worry about underachievement.”
Data science helps businesses to analyse potential clients more comprehensively and increases the odds of keeping sales high in the long run. It’s a perfect model for entrepreneurs who want to stay competitive in the abundance of brands, products, and services.
In this post, we showed you 3 ways you should use data science to skyrocket sales. Which tip could give your company the biggest boost? Let us know in comments and don’t hesitate to ask us if you need any additional information about this topic!
5 Secrets Of Communicating Effectively With Your Customers
Standup comedians take cues from their audiences and modify their material as they go along. You can use this technique to watch for cues from your customers as to how they like to be addressed by you and staff.
This might seem like a schlep when things are going crazy at the tills or in the back office but the reward is creating loyal customers. Getting their feedback can also help you build your business. Here’s how to make communicating with customers a win-win scenario for them, for you and for your staff:
1. Listen first
Rethink your relationship with your customers by remembering that they are in control of the cash, not you. Shift your attitude to acknowledge this by recognising that you would like them to buy happily and confidently from you.
Bullying them with an over-the-top sales pitch is often a fast road to customer disappointment.
Instead, take time to guide them to the product or service that suits them best.
2. Acknowledge and connect
Whether you are demonstrating a product or ringing up a sale, allow the time to pause briefly and look customers in the eye. This personal connection makes customers feel that each one of them has been acknowledged as a fellow human being and not just a cash cow.
Such simple courtesies help you build the loyalty that encourages customers to return to buy again. They also often help take the sting out a disappointment or complaint about your product or service, allowing you to deal with it constructively.
3. What happens in the back office stays in the back office
Be clear in your own mind and also make sure your staff respect the house rule of not pursuing disagreements between colleagues on the shop floor. Most customers who witness something like this tend to back off – perhaps right out of your door.
Some may even film or record it and post it on social media. That is when you realise that there is indeed such a thing as bad publicity and you risk your business’s reputation being permanently damaged.
4. Choose the words
Customers are impressed when they see the boss putting in time on the shop floor or getting involved in customer relations. You can get double value from this time by listening in to the way your staff interact with customers.
Make notes of what is positive and negative then use them during staff training sessions to role-play the situations again and help staff develop empathetic tones, body language and responses to customers.
5. Value the feedback
Compliments make everyone glow but even criticism or a complaint is valuable to your business – it’s like free market research.
So encourage your staff not to argue with a critical customer or try to prove how wrong they are. Respect their perception of their experience and use it to improve your range of products or services and help your business thrive.
What Really Drives Sales Growth And Repeat Business?
Hint: It’s neither your prospects’ ability to buy nor how great your product or service is.
Have you ever analysed what really drives sales in your business? Most people tie their answer to marketing or new leads. Those can be drivers but not the main driver for small businesses.
What causes one person to shop with you for years, driving out of their way to get to you, while the guy across the street won’t set foot in your door? Typically, when I ask this question, I get feedback about how great the product and service is. When I ask why the guy across the street won’t use you, I typically get some explanation of a lack of need or ability to buy.
Those answers can all be true, but that doesn’t make any of them correct.
I have spent the last seven years studying these questions and searching for both the truth and the correct answer. Surprisingly, the right answer is far easier to understand than I thought it would be. Instead of you having to become an expert on the subject, I’ll save you years and tell you what I found.
The truth and the correct answer
If you want to drive sales growth and repeat business, it boils down to understanding and then implementing one strategy: Content builds relationships, relationships build trust, and trust equals sales. Think about that statement for a minute. It is true in your personal and business life right now.
Related: Sales Leadership: The New Frontier
Content builds relationships
Since the dawn of man, how did we build relationships? We create content. If I found myself to be single tomorrow and on a date, I would work to build a relationship with the person I was dating by talking to them – that is, by creating content.
In B2B sales for many years, people created content by having all the knowledge and telling sales prospects about the great features and benefits of new, amazing machines. Today, we create content for our websites and e-books, as well as for downloads or videos to post on YouTube.
Why do we do all of this? Simply put, content builds relationships. And if your customer is looking to purchase anything of significant value from you, you will first need a relationship to make that happen. Once we have a relationship, what happens?
Relationships build trust
Most people don’t fully trust someone they just met, regardless whether it is a business relationship or a personal one. Human nature is to give a little bit of trust and to see if someone is worth giving more trust to. In other words, make them earn it. This is why delivering, at a minimum, what you said you would is so vitally important.
This is where good customer service, the person who answers the phone or sits at the front desk, can make or break a new relationship. As the relationship continues, more and more trust is given; and if the experience remains positive, the amount of trust you get grows still more. As the trust in you grows, then what happens?
Trust equals sales
The more a person trusts you, the more they will buy from you.
One bit of good news with all the competition that is popping up is that it is super easy to stand out, because there are so many poorly run companies and untrustworthy people in the world. All you have to do is do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it. Also, treat people the way you’d want to be treated. Since so few will do that, it is not that hard to stand out from the pack.
Once a person has a relationship with someone, and they always get what they expect, changing from that person or business is not easy or even desirable. Because you gave good content, you created a relationship. Through that relationship you worked hard and developed trust and now, that trust you earned turns out money through, year after year. When you have 500; 1,000; 2,000; or 5,000 of those trusting relationships, they become assets of your amazing business.
If you’ve read me before, you may have heard me say that you should use a newsletter to build a fence around your customers. They will stay longer and spend more. Well, this is what I’m talking about. Had I been more sophisticated in my understanding of how all of this works seven years ago, I would have switched out the word “newsletters” for “content.”
I tell people all the time that a newsletter isn’t a magic tool. If anyone is selling you a magic solve-all-your-problems tool, you should run very far away and very fast. A newsletter is simply a vehicle to distribute content that builds relationships. It nurtures those relationships over time. You have to respect the relationship and earn trust by delivering on your product or services. If you don’t, can’t, or won’t do that, you could deliver all the content and send all the newsletters, and it simply wouldn’t matter one bit.
How to implement this in your business
The challenge with any idea is implementation. With most ideas in business, you typically have four choices, and this one is no different.
You can do the following:
- Do nothing. This is what most people do, which is good news for you, because it is also what most of your competitors are doing. That makes it very easy to stand out.
- Do it yourself. Content has to be created, and maybe you’re the best person to do that right now in your company.
- Hire an employee to do this for you. Of course, you could hire and train a content creation person and outsource editing, graphic design, etc.
- Find a company to help you implement this strategy.
Regardless of your decision, if you want to truly grow, or if you want to beat the competitor down the street, or if you want to increase the value of your company, it starts with this strategy: Content builds relationships, relationships build trust, and trust equals sales.
This leaves you with one thing to as you finish this article: Look back at the four options and make a choice.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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