Conversion is the lifeline of every retail business

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So why is it that retailers are not anticipating on this and are complaining about their customers buying more and more online?

Retailers gave me different answers. For instance, they don’t sell a complete collection, there is a decrease in the number of visitors in the high street, the shopping area is difficult to access due to constructions, good weather, bad weather, strike etc. They tell me a lot of things they can’t influence themselves. However, where they can make the difference and use their influence is well trained staff and customer experience. Or, by lack of educated personnel, investing in sales training and how to deal with demanding customers. And if the visitors frequency is decreasing, they have more time to spend with the customer that does come in the store. And that extra time spent with the customer will be paid back by the customers purchases.

Circle of influence

A 100% conversion is impossible because there is always a percentage of browsers that never buys. Research shows that 20% of all customers never buy anything when entering the store. Also, 20% of all customers always buy something when entering the store, regardless of how they are treated, ignored or insulted. And, 60% will be influenced and inspired to buy something because of the experience they had in the store. This particular consumer didn’t intend to buy. However, due to the warm welcome, the chitchat and the gentleness of the sales person the consumer decided to buy something. They will be influenced and inspired by the experience they have in the store. If you would address this 60% with “can I help you?” or “if you need anything, let me know”, they will leave the store immediately without buying anything. This is the part where the retailer can make the difference, and a good profit. Training the sales force in increasing conversion and behavior change. Otherwise, you may as well be operating a retail museum. Or change your store into a showroom.

The assignment

After my decision to start my own business as a corporate trainer and executive coach, very soon I received an assignment from an Italian fashion brand, belonging to a multibrand American company, to develop a training for their stores.
There are no training managers in this multinational and there was a major need for a customer experience training for the company owned stores. After phone and email contact I was invited to visit the headquarters in Switzerland. I had meetings with the key stake holders and I visited several stores in Switzerland and Italy. I made an action plan on the basis of the meetings and my experiences in the stores. The client had a clear picture of what the content of the training should be and I shared that opinion. Increase the KPI’s.

Key Performance Indicators

Key Performance Indicators are measurable tools which are often used e.g. in retail to follow the performance of the store and act upon it. The most often used KPI’s are productivity, conversions, average ticket value and pieces per ticket. My strength lies is increasing conversion. Conversion means converting a browser into a buyer. By converting a browser into a buyer, all other KPI’s increase as well. You can be the best sales person in the world. However, if you can’t manage to convert a browser into a buyer by welcoming the customer into the store there will be no increase at all in turnover and the other KPI’s. It’s as simple as that.

From conversation to conversion

After developing and designing a tailor made training for this company I was invited to the headquarters in Switzerland again. I presented the training to the core management team and relevant stake holders. Thereafter came the date where I was invited as a guest to a three day store manager meeting. One of those three days was reserved for my training. With a healthy dose of nerves I got on the plane to Genoa, Italy to provide a customer experience training to 25 European store managers from 10 countries. On the first day of the meeting they all presented last year’s performance of their store with figures, KPI’s, highlights and points of improvements. This was the perfect insight for me on the stores and on the people leading the stores with passion. The next day when I delivered the training to them all steps in the sales process were touched. Most noteworthy, I repeatedly emphasized that if they would skip the first step, their conversion would not increase. Without conversation there is no conversion. They practiced a lot in role plays to make sure this new way of customer approach would embed. It also needed some getting used to this new behavior because the store managers have been working for this beautiful company for 12 to 15 years on average. And they all embraced this new way of working. They had an open mind. They could hardly wait to start training their teams with this new ‘customer experience’. At the end of the day everybody filled in a feedback form and after reading all the comments I know how much appreciated and relevant the training was.

“The training was really good. I think that Jacqueline very well understood our needs and help us to grow”

“Really nice and smiling person. Cool training with good timing. Presentation structured and clear”

“Great training, helpful, funny and effective”

Feedback is a gift

Also, a few weeks after the training, I reached out to some store managers to find out if they had any questions. Above all, I was curious to hear how the in-store training with their team went and if they could see a result already of their new approach. Their reactions were:

“I would like to thank you again for the super training. It was of big importance! Thank you for that”

“Nous avons déjà mis en place le « trust part ». Effectivement les clients sont très surpris d’être accueillis de cette façon, avec le temps ils vont prendre l’habitude et nous aussi! À mon retour je vais faire en 2 fois, pour les 2 teams, 2 mini formation avec la partie Tribe qui pour moi a été des plus intéressantes et la chose à mettre en place le plus rapidement possible. Merci pour tout, des que j’ai fais les formations je te donnerais les retours que j’ai eu!”

I hadn’t delivered a training for 1,5 years after leaving Swarovski. Also, this was a training I developed myself. Luckily, I didn’t forget how to deliver a training. Moreover, after I had visited the headquarter and the stores, I couldn’t wait to start. I’m a retailer in heart and soul. Training passionate retail staff really is one of the nicest things to do. Even more when I read back their feedback of the training day.

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