Retail is a multi-trillion dollar industry in the United States. In 2017, total sales hit a new high of $5.7 trillion dollars, according to the U.S. Census. This was better than the pre-recession high of $4.4 trillion dollars in 2007 and also represents a 42 percent increase from the low of $4.06 trillion dollars in 2009.
With that being said, it's important to remember that retail is about customer service. Every sale, every interaction, and every product should be about the customer. To remember that, follow the new 10 commandments as if they were handed down from Heaven
#1 Thou shalt not frustrate the customer.
This sounds basic because it is. Make everything you do in your business about the customer. Be customer-crazy and customer-centric. If you have policies that frustrate the customer, change them. If your store layout frustrates the customer, then change it.
At the end of the day, the customer is the reason you are in business.
#2 Thou shalt meet or exceed Amazon's shipping time.
There is no excuse why you can't ship at the speed of Amazon. If you have excuses, then you should fire every single person in your operations and supply-chain department.
If you have to, be shameless and copy everything that Amazon does. There is no reason why your product should take 7-10 business days. That's crazy.
If you have retail locations, turn every one of them into a distribution center and operate 24/7.
#3 Thou shalt not make the customer search your website.
Websites should make it easy for your customer to find, add, and purchase their products. Everything on your website should be intuitive and easy to find.
One of the biggest problems from retail companies is that the people who design the website don't use the website, so they don't feel the pain. Make your people use the site, even if that means giving them gift cards. You have to have a website that is easy to use and works on mobile devices.
#4 Thou shalt make the buying experience easy.
Do not add hurdles like forcing them to create a profile or retype any information. Do not make the "Purchase" button difficult to find. Do not have a "add to cart" button that that takes forever to reload, so the customer has to wait to add another quantity of that item.
Everything on your site should make the buying experience easy. Connect it to Bitcoin, PayPal, every credit card, and anything else you can think of to accept the customer's money.
You want them to buy your product, make it easy to do so.
#5 Thou shalt make the buying experience fast.
The buying process on your website should be measured in number of clicks it takes to purchase. If you add neat things along the way, you will lose the customer.
If the customer wants a t-shirt, make it incredibly and ridiculously easy to find that t-shirt, select it, and buy-it. Voila. Done. Finito. Just like that.
#6 Thou shalt make adding more items to the cart convenient.
You want your customers to buy more of what you have. If your customer wants 10 pairs of the same shirt, then make a button that allows them to type in "10" and hit "add to cart". Keep it simple.
Do not make customers navigate out of the shopping cart to go back and manually add items. You will lose them. Everything is about the point of sale so make that moment easy and convenient to add additional items.
#7 Thou shalt have an option to submit feedback quickly.
Every site should have a button that is clear, visible, and right at the side of the page for customers to submit feedback.
Do not make people navigate your footer to find the survey button. And do not wait until after the sale (or no sale at all) to ask for feedback.
Your goal should be to have the world's easiest website to submit feedback. Your customers will know the pain-points better than you do, so allow them the means to communicate freely and easily to you.
#8 Thou shalt have a customer survey with good questions.
You shouldn't have a painful survey to fill out with required questions. Make it easy otherwise you won't get any feedback. If you require the customer to punch in 16 random numbers and then click radio buttons, expect mediocre results.
Similarly, ask the right questions. "Do you want to be contacted?" is a lot different than, "Would you mind if we contacted you?". The former will probably get a "no" unless the customer is really upset, while most people would agree to the latter because they understand hiccups happen.
#9 Thou shalt have a points program that really rewards.
I have four kids and I buy clothes all the time for them. One of their favorite retailers has a loyalty program but it's poorly designed and doesn't feel like much.
In the program, you're either VIP or you're not. There is no leveling or gradation. What's the point, then?
You need to motivate your customers to buy more from you. Gamify everything. Create badges. Make sure your cart reminds them they still need to purchase. And offer several levels of loyalty, from "trusted customer" all the way up to "Premium Platinum Partner". It doesn't matter what you call it, just do it.
#10 Thou shall never accept second-best when delivering to the customer.
The customer should always be at the center of what you do. When your internal meetings turn into, "what about my team?", then you are missing the point.
If you do not focus on the customer, then somebody else will and you'll be out of business. Never deliver less-than-perfect service to your customers.
What you need to do now...
Retail can be one of the most fun industries to work in because you serve people day-in and day-out. This is the heart of commerce and you have the opportunity to impact people's lives by providing products that they need.
Do everything in your power to wow the customer every moment they interact with your brand and company. By doing so, you'll prevent disruption, destroy the competition, and build a loyal, trusting, and committed customer that will be buying from you for years to come.