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FutureNow Post
Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2008 at 8:40 am

Gut Check For Retailers

By Jeffrey Eisenberg
October 14th, 2008

Customers have changed, and not just because of the economy. Simply because something worked in the past is not sufficient reason to believe it will work now.

  • Customers will look for reasons not to buy.
  • Retailers will offer incentives.
  • Customers will look for value.
  • Retailers will offer promotions.
  • Customers will look for more information.
  • Retailers will ask their customers to provide content.
  • Customers will hold retailers responsible for their entire experience.
  • Retailers will continue to work in silos.
  • Customers will find new favorite retailers.
  • Retailers will look for new traffic.
  • Customers will demand more from each visit.
  • Retailers will focus more intensely  on the +/- 3% they convert instead of the 97% they don’t.
  • Customers have changed.
  • Retailers…

Will retailers finally focus on optimizing their customer experience and improving their sales conversion rates? Many, perhaps most, won’t. It’s hard to build a culture of continuous improvement, especially under pressure. Some, a few, will. They will not only survive but they will also improve their market share and profitability.

We do work with a lot of retailers who are already devoted and several who we are helping to adopt a culture of continuous improvement. Still, it’s a relatively small sample size. Am I too pessimistic? Nothing would make me happier than to be wrong.

I welcome your feedback.

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Comments (8)

  1. Great read, and the comment of “Simply because something worked in the past is not sufficient reason to believe it will work now”. Unfortunately a lot of companies still aren’t getting this message.

  2. [...] Gut Check for Retailers (FutureNow) – “Will retailers finally focus on optimizing their customer experience and improving their sales conversion rates? Many, perhaps most, won’t. It’s hard to build a culture of continuous improvement, especially under pressure. Some, a few, will. They will not only survive but they will also improve their market share and profitability. ” [...]

  3. [...] I read a blog by Jeffrey Eisenberg called “Gut Check for Retailers” where Jeffrey, a noted columnist for grokdotcom, predicts that most retailers will continue their [...]

  4. Great post – I keep coming back to it. So many retailers make knee-jerk reactions, but now is the time to really take stock, focus on ROI, and measure, measure, measure.

  5. Jeffrey:

    I agree with your assessment that many retailers rely excessively on price promotions and lack a focus on customer experience across a broad range of customers.

    What retailers need is what you recommended, continuous improvement, and even more so, a focus on customers that permits them to understand customer segments and then develop customer experiences that reflect the needs of those specific segments. Retailers who are building organizations around the needs of customer segments are building organizations that will win. See my blog at http://www.msquaredgroup.com/cms/wordpress for more. I will be blogging about customer-centric marketing organizations for retail over the next couple weeks.

  6. Interesting insights. We try to focus very intently on the 97% of visitors that do not convert! We want every visitor to our site to love our service and find value in our offering. Out site is only 6 months old but we are also very focused on continuous improvement based on customer feedback.

  7. Candice: The challenge you have is that many of the visitors to your site will merely be “travelers” who are passing by. The key is to find the visitors who could be real prospects, understand their needs and enhance your site to increase conversion %s.

  8. Mark: Yes, travelers and people who just want to assure themselves they are getting a good deal from their current house cleaning service as well as lookey loos etc. I do agree though that we need to spend more time understanding the needs of our current customers and prospects like them and making relevant changes to our site.

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Jeffrey Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark. You can friend him on Facebook.

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