As someone who has worked in retail, I am a firm believer that the way to fidelize your customers is to give them something that makes a difference.
There are stores much like Zara that rely on overwhelming the customer with plenty of choices and a reasonable or cheap price. Other stores can’t compete with this strategy and opt for a better and more personalized customer service.
I have been shopping at my MUS store since they opened their doors and their products are second in number in my stash only after MAC. I have seen their evolution and many a sales assistant come and go. The sales assistants have mostly been friendly and helpful but with some I developed a closer and warmer relationship, while still retaining our roles as customer and employee. We live in a small sized town after all, and people get to know each other. And after this long shared history, today they made me feel like a mere number.
I was interested in some of their Cybershadows, and, before going to the store, I checked out their website to know the shades available and prices. Surprise! Some of their shades were on a 30% off. Hurray! I went to the store and purchased my items while chatting with the sales assistants (“Oh, I’ve seen pictures of the new packaging” “Yeah it is very nice. And they are also launching new and better brushes” “Sounds like I’ll have to check them out!”). So imagine my surprise when as I was once more on the street, I look at my receipt and I see all the items at full price on it!
I went back and asked for a refund. At first they were reticent, telling me that those offers were only available online (a lie, when I have had the discounts applied in store before) but as I would not budge they gave it back to me in the end. The price difference? 15€.
I could not care less about those 15€. Hell, last week I spent quite a bit on brushes alone (Wayne Goss and Laura Mercier), but I refuse to let them get away with it. If I frequent a store it is because I like the relationship you develop with the staff, being able to share the excitement for upcoming releases and being able to check the items in person before you purchase them. If I get none of the perks and on top of that I feel like they are ripping me off, then I am afraid that the store has lost a customer. They can try to give me whatever excuse about “the system” and “orders from Stockholm”, but the truth is that my value as a loyal customer was diminished when confronted with potential face-less online customers. Cashing 15€ was more important than a loyal customer. Why should I be less?
I still like the brand, but from now onwards I will be very selective on whether I buy an item and if at all possible, on WHERE I buy it.
What about you? Any retail anecdotes?