San Francisco, CA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 10/03/2018 -- If small retailers want to survive the digital revolution and the threat posed by industry giants like Amazon, they will need to stop blaming the market for lack of loyalty and start trusting their customers again, says leading retail turnaround consultants Pratley Associates.
Principal Darren Pratley says that if bricks-and-mortar retailers start trusting their customers again they may begin to see a return to the kind of customer loyalty capable of challenging the online retail conglomerates.
"We have all kinds of technology tools designed to help bricks-and-mortar retailers be more competitive, including tools like HubSpot for marketing, SalesForce for sales and Vend for point-of-sales and customer loyalty management," said Pratley. "The creep of technology isn't an excuse for poor performance – it's actually an aide.
"Retailers can continue to blame technology for their woes but let's be frank, you cannot beat a machine for efficiency and cost. Reducing yourself to the lowest common denominator, at the same level as a machine, is going to end badly for everyone."
He urged retailers to compete to their strengths.
"Those strengths are the soft skills that make us human because a machine cannot do what connects us as human beings – no matter how 'virtually human' technology becomes; graphics are graphics and 1's and 0s are just that, 1s and 0s."
Pratley said the first thing retailers need to stop doing is to stop paying staff next to nothing, and instead start recruiting people with personality, social intelligence, and good communication.
"Most retailers pay their staff next to nothing to keep costs down – that's what I mean by trying to compete with machines on price and efficiency – and as a result those people behave like machines; they turn up, unlock the doors, turn on the lights, process transactions, turn off the lights and lock the doors.
"A machine could do those things. Except the humans leave."
Pratley urged retailers to recognize the human need for relatedness as a game-changing competitive point of difference that could leave online retail out in the cold.
"Social connection and intimacy are fundamental human urges that shopping online cannot satisfy and it's one that people will pay a premium to experience, but you have to take a leap of faith and start offering people what people need."
Bricks-and-mortar retailers must act now to transform the in-store customer experience, but it's not cheap.
"Pay people to be human (that means pay them well). Enthuse them, inspire them, train them, give them pride in their work – it turn they'll start to love what they do, and that enthusiasm and emotion will rub off on your customers.
"People will want to come into your store because they're recognized, valued, welcome and loved. Online retail can't do that. When your staff love turning up at the store, so will your customers. It's really that simple, but it begins with an act of faith – just do it," Pratley said.
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About Darren Pratley & Associates
Regardless of age, stage, size or industry, from time to time, a business really needs to bring in a specialist who can challenge the business. By creating an environment to review its performance and test its core, Darren Pratley & Associates can challenge the status quo and consider change.
Darren Pratley & Associates brings a unique set of skills and opportunity for any business owner or leader to build a personalized review process that will create a great outcome.
The firm works with clients to uncover your industry's hidden gems, explore new options, develop smart plans and then support the set-up of mechanisms to deliver them.
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