Customers Are People Too

What do you see when a customer walks into your store?

Income? 
Sales?
Dollars?

Now let me ask you another question. What color are their eyes?

That’s right, customers are people. So it might help to ask yourself, and them, a few questions. Are those champagne glasses you are selling him the ones he is proposing to his girlfriend with? Is that the jacket she’s going to wear to go snowboarding for the first time? Is that the mobile phone she’s going to FaceTime her parents with while away at college?

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You may be done with your customer after they pay for those running shoes, but if you know how they’re going to use them, it will help you sell more of them. You can find out if people are using their new sneakers to train for that marathon, or if they are using them to take their dog for a walk in the park.

If you’re a big business, you’ll probably do market testing and blind focus groups. If you’re a small store, you may be gleaning anecdotal information, or just applying what you already know. If you’re into social media, you can gather those insights from your business’s Facebook page. That’s the interesting thing about social platforms—it doesn’t work in just one direction. You can find out just as much about them, as they can about you.

In any case, knowing how your products are actually being used is useful for advertisers.

One of our longtime clients B&H Photo & Video, is in Midtown, Manhattan. They’re known for being the ultimate store in the city for cameras, along with all the accouterments. We do a fair amount of radio for them, and it generally (and humorously) focuses on how helpful and knowledgeable the B&H staff is. They’ve also done something incredibly helpful: they’ve set up a fantastic Facebook page with detailed product reviews and helpful how-to videos. It also acts as a live feed for their customers to ask questions and give input. You can really feel the human element behind the page.

So they’ve covered quite a swath of customer engagement: traditional advertising, in-store customer service, and a social media platform that delivers consumer insight.

Now, that mix may or may not be right for your business. But the more retailers, and their agencies, can find out about business prospects, the better. With that insight, the marketing and advertising strategy can then become a lot clearer and direct to your target consumers.

Remember, they’re not your customers, they’re your friends.

How is your business going to befriend people?

IN STORE VERSUS ONLINE – WHO REALLY HAS THE MOST CUSTOMERS?

No one can deny that online shopping has grown faster than Justin Bieber’s social media following. So what does the future hold for brick-and-mortar retailers? And has online shopping reached a plateau? Research conducted by various sources* tells us that, finally, online versus in-store purchases are beginning to balance each other out.   

STANDING IN-LINE VS. SHOPPING ONLINE

First things first: What are people buying online? Tied for the highest percentage of online commerce are the electronics and music/video industries, both at about 74%.  The latter comes as no surprise, with songs and movies so easily downloadable from companies like iTunes and Amazon. There is little chance that this arm of the entertainment industry will ever return to the brick and mortar marketplace. Sorry Sam Goody.

Following these are office supplies (68%), clothing (63%), furniture (66%), toys and games (60 %) and books and magazines (58%).


With discounts as well as free and fast shipping options, companies going online for purchases is a simple option that brings their needs right to their door.

Clothing retailers often have shipping discounts, or no shipping fees policies, after you spend a certain amount. But, if the clothes don’t fit right it can be a somewhat tedious process to return/reorder a better size, etc.

Amazon carries almost everything, and they have put retailers, specifically bookstores, in danger (and even some out of business).  Toys and Games as well as Books and Magazines having a larger percentage of sales online is no surprise considering how large Amazon has become.  Simply put, Amazon offers almost everything at rock bottom prices – so it’s becoming increasingly difficult to compete. 

 WHAT’S THE MOST POPULAR IN-STORE INDUSTRY?

The most overwhelming preference for in store shopping is Drugs and Health Aids, at 91.2%.  This has the highest preference out of any category, making online purchases scarce in this industry.  Maybe it’s the fear of identity theft when insurance is involved, or health products or too personal for the Internet.  Whatever it is, there seems to be no threat to brick and mortar operations in this industry.

INDUSTRIES THAT ARE TOO CLOSE TO CALL

With the emergence of online grocery stores and services, some are beginning to wonder if traditional supermarkets will soon be in danger.  However, many consumers have reported that they won’t buy any fresh products from online services (such as meat, produce, dairy and fish).

When it comes to Computer Hardware and Software 52% tend to shop in store.

Online and in-store shopping both have unique aspects that neither can replace.  What drives a consumer in-store or online depends on the product, the person and the need.  While they each have their own benefits and disadvantages, for now they’re both here to stay. 

* US Census Bureau, Marketing Daily, CSA