The Apple Store proves that you build loyal customers in store by serving their needs, not your own.
This past Christmas I went all out, buying my wife a new iMac, my sons iPhone 4s and myself a Sony flat screen TV.
Needless to say I spent a good deal of time at my local Apple Store and Best Buy.
The style of these two stores is worlds apart, and explains at least in part why Apple sales went up last holiday season while Best Buy’s went down.
The people at the Apple Store were all about providing knowledge, recommendations and speed of service.
They had ready answers to most of my questions, knew where to look online when they didn’t know the answer and had strong recommendations when I asked for them.
Once I made my decision, it took them only a couple of minutes to run my credit card through their hand-held credit card processor, attach a carrying handle to my boxes, and send me on my way.
The guys at Best Buy were not so knowledgeable or helpful.
They didn’t know why the 32″ Sony flat screen TV I was looking at cost $200 more than the 32″ Samsung.
They weren’t sure when 32″ was enough screen and when it was time to move up to 37″. To make matters worse, they sent me to a checkout line that had 20 people in it.
They did show a lot of knowledge and courage of conviction about one thing: why I just had to have their extended service plan.
I left one store feeling completely satisfied, and the other feeling slightly frustrated.
The results of a recent poll sponsored by Motorola Solutions helped me understand why Apple has it right.
Motorola found that almost 6 in 10 retail sales people noticed that this holiday season shoppers were better connected to consumer information than in-store associates.
That confirmed my findings that the Apple Store sales associates had a better understanding of their products than the Best Buy sales people. And when they didn’t know the answer, they knew where to go find it.
The Motorola study also confirmed that I’m not the only shopper who wants more information in store.
More than 4 in 10 shoppers reported that working with a sales associate armed with a handheld mobile computer improved their shopping experience.
If you’re a leisure marketing specialist, this is important, so pay attention.
Here are five takeaways from my Christmas shopping experience at the Apple Store that leisure marketers can take to the bank:
- Train your sales associates to become experts in one department, and make them take a test on EVERY product in their department before you put them on the floor.
- Create an online repository of information on all your products, and encourage your sales associates to access this when they’re working with customers.
- Stop aggressively selling extended warranties through sales associates and put that information on in store displays and rack brochures.
- Teach your sales associates to know the differences between brands and price point breaks, and train them how to make recommendations.
- Use mobile credit card readers and other strategies to speed up the check out process.
That’s what my Christmas shopping taught me about improving the retail sales experience. If you’re a leisure marketing expert, what did your shoppers teach you last Christmas season?