Customer focus and customer experience, the success model of traditional retail, is unthinkable without knowing consumer needs and demands.

While only a few years ago we were told to bid farewell to traditional trade, and images of city centres redeveloped as parks and public spaces instead of retail shops were exhibited at each conference stage, today the Generation Z is rediscovering retail, and “window-shopping” is cool again. In other words, we are talking about a generation that has been exposed to online commerce almost as if it were a natural evolutionary process. The classic retailer is big again. However, online competition remains aggressively innovative and holds new surprises in store almost daily to drive up customer expectations and thus secure further competitive advantages.

In order to continue to celebrate success in over-the-counter trade and to be able to stand up to online competition, customer focus is an important part of the corporate strategy. The concept has landed and is consistently implemented by almost all chain stores. Focusing on the customer pursues the actual core objective: ever-increasing numbers of satisfied and loyal repeat buyers with a high level of willingness to recommend the product. This goal can be achieved by creating an optimal customer experience. The modern customer also demands to be in the centre of attention and to experience a successful shopping experience. In order to be able to develop effective and successful measures to achieve this, it is essential to adopt the customer perspective and achieve a high level of customer understanding.

Knowledge of the customer’s requirements and purchase motivation forms the basis for the development of strategic customer focus.

To counter the danger of being left behind in the digital transformation and to create the optimal basis for customer-centricity, retailers should essentially focus on customer wishes and needs. Only in this way will customer experience and thus customer focus be successful. However, customer needs are changing rapidly. It becomes necessary to survey customer opinions more regularly and possibly more frequently than before, to observe customer behaviour and to analyse changes and buying trends.

For traditional retail, the customer presence on the shop floor is a perfect opportunity to find out more about the customer, their wishes and buying motives. The time difference between the act of purchase and the survey plays an important role in the questioning of attitudes, motivations and requirement situations to do with a product purchase. It is not unusual for surveys to be conducted weeks or months later. The consumer is thus called upon to remember their partially implicit motives and – worse still – to put themselves back into the emotional experience.

In the shopping experience at the POS, we are best positioned for learning about the customer in a dialogue, which makes us successful retailers.

Proven market research instruments therefore rely on customer surveys and observations immediately during or after the act of purchase, directly at the point of sale. In this way, market research takes over the professional and systemic dialogue interface between the retailer and the consumer in order to identify the vital data about the customer, which helps to achieve an improved perception of the shopping experience in the future. This is about products, atmosphere and customer service on the shop floor. Market research provides a wide range of tools to respond to these complex challenges. Using mystery shopping, observations, customer surveys, eye tracking, frequency measurements and the analysis of customer movement on the retail floor, this strategic knowledge can be generated by professional market researchers. These high-quality insights and recommendations enable retailers to optimise their operational measures, analyse customer experience, detect trends, determine influencing factors for increasing customer satisfaction and identify future sales potential. This will in turn benefit a large number of departments in the retail company, such as marketing, category management, expansion, property, human resources, and even the digital strategists who develop the omnichannel strategy based on customer requirements. After all, an optimal customer experience leads to satisfied regular customers who enjoy shopping, generating more sales for the retailer. What the online shops try to read out of the digital traces in terms of customer information, a traditional retailer can achieve through personal customer surveys in the given environment. In this way, personal customer dialogue on the floor becomes a powerful competitive advantage.

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