Has Amazon Killed the Retail Store?

Amazon is the biggest online retail store. They sell everything you could think of that is legal to sell, and what they don’t sell, they provide a venue for private sellers. So has this killed the brick and mortar retail store?

Has Amazon Killed the Retail Store?Yes and no. Many brick and mortar retailers have been seriously hurt or put under by Amazon. Let’s face it, for some the ability to shop from their home and not schlep out into a store is a great thing. But beyond that, Amazon provides a lot of other services that a brick and mortar retailer hasn’t, and/or can’t. Comparison shopping is available in any store, but Amazon provides reviews from people who have bought and used the item. This can be invaluable in deciding which one to buy. Being as big as they are they also have the ability to leverage that for lower purchasing cost, so that means lower costs for the consumer. That is a big problem that most small retail stores can’t overcome. Some argue that it’s made up for in shipping costs, but sometimes the difference is big enough that shipping isn’t an issue.

The best bet for brick and mortar retailers is to realize that there are some ways they can’t compete with Amazon, but there are others where Amazon can’t compete with them. When was the last time anyone got personal, face to face assistance from Amazon? Or even talked with someone on the phone with them to deal with a customer service issue? That is the best place where the store can outdo the online retailer. Don’t underestimate it. Excellent customer service can inspire a loyalty that will override price considerations.

Amazon does have some areas where they have killed it over brick and mortar stores, but since there is still a lot of healthy retailers out there, they haven’t put them all out of business yet!

Why Use Mystery Shopping? Rate Your Customer Service Against Your Competition

You know that mystery shopping is a great way to improve customer service in your own business, but did you know that it’s also a great way to rate your customer service against your competition?

Why Use Mystery Shopping? Rate Your Customer Service Against Your CompetitionMystery shoppers are not a new thing, but they are a smart way to keep tabs on what is happening in your store when you aren’t there. You know that they look for the following: How is your customer service? How do they treat your customers? Are they friendly and customer-focused? How long does it take them to greet people when they come in? Are they helpful and polite when they do or bored and annoyed? How well do your employees know about the products and services they are selling? Are displays up to date and eye catching? Is the store clean and neat? Are your employees neatly dressed, professional looking or in uniform? Are they following store policy about appearance, cleanliness and so forth?

Here’s the really cool thing: mystery shoppers can also do the same at your competitors and let you know how you stack up. All of the things that the mystery shopper will look for in your store, they can look for in others as well. That is an incredibly important tool to improve how things run in your own business. Knowing that your competitors have better displays means you can improve yours.

Knowing that their employees have more knowledge shows you that you need to increase your staff training. In every area where your own store can be assessed, so can your competitors. Having that information is also a good way to change your own store policies to improve your customer service.

Knowledge is power. Knowledge of your competitors will give you a powerful edge. Use mystery shopping to rate your customer service against your competitors it will help you improve your business and your bottom line.

Big Box Retail – Thinking Small to Sell Big

Big box retail is really the same as any other retail just bigger. Big box retail still needs to be thinking small to sell big because the individual customer still demands good personal service.

Business is bigger these days, right? The old rules don’t apply, right? Actually, that is wrong. In any retail, big box or otherwise, you need to think small to sell big.

Big Box Retail - Thinking Small to Sell BigThink back to when you were a child, especially if you grew up in a small town. There were “rules” for business. Well, those small town rules are now the same rules that big business are seeing as “new rules.” They aren’t so new, and the internet and social media really have made the world one big small town.

The world always seemed like such a big place. With the advent of the internet, suddenly it wasn’t so far fetched to instantly talk with someone across the street, or across several continents. The more the internet was used, the smaller the world became. With that, people realized that in business small town rules really do make or break a business. Now your customers, who may be a few miles or thousands of miles away aren’t just a name on a purchase order, but a face that you got to know in a video conference, via Skype, social media or however you got to know them. With that personalization, personal service became the expectation.

So small town rules… what are they? Basically the small town rule is that you have to show the customer that you give a damn. It all boils down to that. Think back to things that used to be commonplace – the Baker’s Dozen. The baker didn’t throw in an extra doughnut or bagel because he was giving away charity; he did it because it showed he cared about you as a customer, and you staying a customer. In a small town everyone knows everyone. They know everything about you and your business. If you suddenly stopped giving great service to your customers, it would get out in a heartbeat, and your business would shrivel up and die. One bad employee could and often did ruin a business.

In today’s internet world, word still gets out really fast. People just have to do a quick Google search and they can find out everything they ever wanted to know about your business. One or a few bad employees can ruin your reputation almost instantly. Use the small town rules and your business will thrive.

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Sales Training – How Does the “Customer Experience” Affect Sales

Sales training needs to reflect what you, as the business owner, wants the customer to experience when they shop in your store. Have you ever walked out of a store because of how the employees there treated you?

Now think about the best customer service you’ve ever experienced – how did it affect what and how much you bought? This is exactly the questions that you should pose to your employees during their sales training.

Sales Training - How Does the "Customer Experience" Affect SalesHere’s how great customer service should go. You walk into a store and are greeted by an employee. The greeting is warm and friendly. You enter the store and, not finding what you need, you look around. A salesperson approaches and asks if you had any questions that they could answer for you. He or she asks you a few questions and carefully listens to your answers. They clarify anything that needs it and then makes a recommendation or two and waits for you to look at them and see if they are a good fit.

If a fit isn’t available, he or she will take whatever steps they can to get it into the store for you. He or she then asks for any additional questions or information, and then makes a few more suggestions for items that may be helpful. Throughout all of this process the same warmth and friendliness is continued, and it is genuine, not phony or forced. Given this level of service, would you buy? Would you buy the additional suggestions?

Now let’s look at the opposite. You walk into a store and are completely ignored by staff, who are too busy chatting and texting on their phones to even look up. As you look around the store, you can’t find the item you came for. You seek out and find a salesperson, who looks up from their texting to ask in an annoyed tone if you wanted something. If you don’t say no and turn to leave right then, you will then get more annoyed sighing and eye rolling as you ask for the item you came in to purchase. A flat “no” being the answer, you then have to ask if they can get it. Another annoyed sigh later and another “no” you finally leave, frustrated and empty handed. No customer service is apparent.

When working with your employees on their sales training, remember that the experiences above can make or break your business! You as the business owner want your employees to reflect your vision of great customer service and it is up to you to make sure they get the proper sales training.


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Cloud Based CRM Tools Facilitate Connected Data

Cloud based CRM tools are the answer to your data problems. In any business today, having a tool available that can keep track of your customer relationship management (or CRM) from anywhere is very important. Having it in the cloud is the perfect solution.

CRM is an approach for managing relationships with current customers and business prospects. Your sales staff use it to manage their pipelines from the first lead to the close of the sale. Really good systems also extend their CRM into marketing, technical support and customer service. On this level, your CRM tool manages other business indicators that support your customers.

Cloud Based CRM Tools Facilitate Connected DataA great cloud based CRM system allows you to see specific contact activities made to prospects, and follow up activities for new leads. Also see how those new customers are being marketed to, how your customer service is taking care of those existing customers: it tracks client interactions on many business levels.

This great system with immediate availability of data gives management a picture of a problem, as soon as it’s a problem. Having your CRM system available in the cloud is a great solution. Companies like Retail Business Development have developed these types of cloud based systems. RBD has a system called RBD Connect. Today, many companies have sales teams that are mobile, so their CRM system should be as well.

Being in the field with instant access to your information is more than important, it’s life or death for a business deal. RBD Connect is designed for that mobile workforce. It delivers powerful ERP, CRM, HRM, eLearning and Reporting modules to sales associates in the field, and also to the office executives, management and personnel.

RBD Connect manages over 500 sales associates in hundreds of retail stores, or the several in your one location, for a great increase in productivity and performance. RBD Connect has been designed to help businesses improve overall performance. It’s designed to deliver a plethora of information instantly to multiple roles within your workforce.

The cloud based CRM system integrates to various parts of your business: Sales & CRM, Integrated Accounting, Inventory, Procurement, Human Resources and eLearning. It can be scaled to fit your business, large or small. Cloud based CRM is the way to go. For more information visit: http://retailing30.com/solution/web-based-retail-erp/.


Retailing Cloud Based Retail Solutions
Cloud Based Retail Solutions
RBD Retail 3.0 Solutions are a set of enterprise, cloud-based solutions for the mobile workforce that delivers powerful ERP, CRM, HRM, eLearning and Reporting modules to sales associates in the field, executives, management and back-office personnel. Find out more about our Retailing 3.0 business solutions

Point of Sale Tablets Allow for Real Time Sales Data

These days, seeing a retail establishment use a tablet computer for point of sale and to collect real time sales data isn’t out of the ordinary. Apple started the trend by using their own iPads in their retail stores, and it quickly caught on.

Using a tablet for a point of sale device has a lot of benefits. First it will save money by streamlining the sales process. Generally a full POS system with cash registers can be $20,000 or more. Purchasing a tablet computer and the apps needed to run your POS is about $1,000, including a cash drawer and printer for receipts. Better yet, you can help your customers “go green” by offering to email them their receipts instead of printing them out.

For a small business start up, that is a huge savings. A tablet as a POS makes for great customer service. Having information at hand answers questions immediately instead of making them wait while you track down the needed answer.

Also, there are no lines because the cash register can come to the customer, instead of the reverse. Think of all the sales that won’t be lost when you can immediately ring up the customer THEN go get the merchandise, or have them change their mind on the trek back to the cash register.

Even better, when the store is busy, those lost sales from impatient customers will be a thing of the past. Apple isn’t the only kid on the block!

Companies like Retail business Development offers an app called RBD Assistant. It’s a Google Android™ tablet-based system that manages sales from start to finish, and also includes instant training, a time clock feature, assistive sales activities, point-of-sales, customer follow up and real-time sales reporting and analytics. It has an intelligent assistive sales design that guides employees step by step through the sales process. It also provides information to the customer and checks them out. For more information see RBD Assistant.

If you want to find a cost effective POS retail sales system that provides real time sales data, look to tablets. You won’t regret it.


Retailing Cloud Based Retail Solutions
Cloud Based Retail Solutions
RBD Retail 3.0 Solutions are a set of enterprise, cloud-based solutions for the mobile workforce that delivers powerful ERP, CRM, HRM, eLearning and Reporting modules to sales associates in the field, executives, management and back-office personnel. Find out more about our Retailing 3.0 business solutions

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