“I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.” – David Bowie

There are no shortages of blogs and articles floating around the internet this week with retail trend predictions for 2016. While the majority simply expand on the key themes that emerged in 2015, from personalisation to the online/offline movement, one ‘trend’ from Retail Dive caught my eye: forget about the transaction, it’s about the interaction.”

We work with clients consistently to build and deliver on the metrics of interaction as our primary measurements supported by the good old vanilla transactional data such as sales per square metre, customer returns, spend over an aggregate transactional span. Customer satisfaction, penetration and bounce from our database, customer activity by range and store allocated space, uptake to social media community and their advocate reach measurement are all indicators of interaction.

The New Year offers a perfect opportunity to look closer at the steps on the customer journey that take place before, and lead to, the transaction and by this I mean interaction; store experience, customer service, and building an organic relationship between brand and customer.

Have you considered how investing time in brand interaction this year could significantly impact your transaction record?

Of course in today’s digitally connected society, interaction with brand can begin anywhere from at home, to on the bus. Anywhere a consumer has a mobile device; they have access to your brand. However this week, we focus on one of the most powerful points of interaction, your retail store.

From millennials to baby boomers, all consumer markets are significantly valuing interaction within their store experience more than ever before; whether this is to connect deeper with the brand, or feel like they are gaining greater value for money.

As we see many large online players move into bricks and mortar (and 2016 is certainly set to see a lot more) this is highlighted even more.

Take the new Microsoft store as an example, the authentic organic brand engagement that comes from Microsoft filling their store with Xbox’s, interactive digital screens and approachable staff members is not only interacting with a broad range of target markets, and therefore creating strong, positive brand relationships but is ultimately increasing dwell time, increasing the likelihood of purchase, whether in the immediate moment or in the future. Investment in interaction, leading to a greater number of transactions.

Consequently, this investment also leads to an additional outcome which could significantly benefit your retail business, and that’s the consumer data and information that can be captured from customer engagement, helping you to understand consumer behaviour greater than ever before, meet future expectations moving forward and boost authentic audience engagement.

However, as mentioned, investment into interaction does not necessarily have to be a great financial investment for it to be beneficial to your retail business. ‘Fit’ retail businesses today are recognising the power of investing time into training store staff to positively increase transaction records.

As a time poor society seeking value for money and efficient processes, having honest, reliable and approachable sales assistants who are knowledgeable about the product/brand, but also honest enough to make recommendations and provide advice to customers even if it sacrifices the sale on that specific day, builds loyalty, trust and keeps customers coming back for more. We recently witnessed the power of this approach in fashion retailer Sportsgirl, as the staff in the fitting rooms offered recommendations, honest advice and built rapport with each individual customer in the fitting rooms, ultimately leading to satisfied customers whether they made a purchase that day or not.

Just as customers have become wary of advertising tricks, they are also becoming wary of sales assistants simply seeking commission, so sometimes an honest opinion even if it leads to no transaction on that day is priceless to a customer, who will not only come back in future but spread positive word of mouth about your store.

For more Business Fitness™ tips around investing in interaction, or to start building on your New Year Business Fitness™ resolutions, contact our team below.

Happy ‘fit’ retailing!

First published on Inside Retail, 13th January 2016.