The following article was authored by Adam Shiflett, marketing manager for ADP Lightspeed, examining how businesses can capitalize on consumers’ need for instant gratification in their shopping experiences.
For centuries the way customers chose a retail store came down to a three part equally balanced equation: 1. Do they have what I want? 2. Do they know what they’re talking about? 3. Do they have good customer service?
If one of the three were not met, generally the others could make up for it. If an expert and well mannered retailer didn’t have what you wanted, you were more than willing to wait for it to be ordered. You waited days even weeks if it took a while for something to arrive, as long as you were asked nicely to wait.
Today the triangle has shifted. Customers have been trained by Big Boxes and the Internet to demand now. Google has taught them that if it’s not at one place it can be found somewhere else in the blink of an eye. Big Boxes have taught customers it is okay to sacrifice service for selection.
So what does that mean for your store?
First, you are not a Big Box and your customers still come to you for the experience. That is an advantage you have over general retailers. Use it as an advantage, but don’t assume people will just continue to come to you if you can’t deliver. Continually disappointed customers will take their business elsewhere.
Customers that may consider themselves loyal to you will buy from other sources if they get a better response. Often those purchases start out small: an O-ring, a handle, but beware, those smaller purchase can turn into a habit and a lost customer. If you’re going to win the fight you need the right tools. You need systems, processes and know-how to stay ahead of customers’ demand and to keep them loyal.
Use Your Resources
In October 2011 there were 2.5 million instances that someone entered a part number into an ADP Lightspeed DMS and the part was not available. Now what? You have a customer that drove to your store trusting you’d have what they needed. Now you’re going to tell them to leave empty handed?
Stop thinking about your inventory as what is located within your four walls. There are thousands of dealers that share their inventory now. Use your locator to find the part. You may not have the part in your store, but imagine how much better it is to tell your customer “I can have it in this afternoon” versus “Go look somewhere else”.
Parts and Major Unit locators can turn you from a zero to a hero. Instead of missing a revenue opportunity, you’re ringing the till. Instead of disappointing a customer, you win loyalty. And you didn’t even have to stock it. How sweet is that?
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