How can a mature business turn around their declining retail sales?  By creating a distinctive in-store customer experience that is based on a deep understanding of the customer journey that is distinctive and encourages customers to return.

Businesses can always improve their margins by offering less and selling through third parties, but what they lose is their ability to add value by building lifetime value and a tool for building growth.  A retail presence in the form of concession stores, that was once the engine of growth for our client, had through cost-cutting, become a large fixed cost.  Customers had moved away from the stores and were increasing buying in bulk through their online store.  However, sales growth through their online store was now in decline.  Our client was now considering moving to a less personal sales model driven by grocery store distribution where they would also share space with lower-priced competitors and store brands.

The first stage to understanding what strategy our client needed to implement was to understand the in-store experience and understanding the customer journey from consideration to repeat purchase.  To understand this journey, we spoke with both customers and staff and then mapped every stage of the customer journey.  This journey included decision and experience steps and how each stage affected the final outcome.  Because the journey was strongly influenced by the in-store environment, we also undertook mystery shopping, observation of shopping behaviour, and interviewed staff and customers in the store area, and away from the store space.  From this stage of the project, our client had clear insights into how they could improve the customer experience and store layout. The changes in the store layout helped to put customers at ease. Customer anxiety was a major issue in preventing initial and repeat purchase.

To understand what was driving business success, and failure at a store level, we undertook a survey of customer and staff from across all stores. Results from the survey were then matched against sales performance, staffing information. local area demographics, and traffic flow.  Our analysis and modelling this information showed by how much business performance could improve if best practices were adopted across all stores.  This analysis also showed what criteria to use for selecting new store locations and what stores our client should be closed or change to a lower-cost model.

In implementing the recommendations from the project our client reinvigorated sales across all channels.  By reviving their in-store experience, more consumers were attracted to the business which allowed the business to use their online retail presence as an integral part of the customer experience rather than as a separate completing channel.