Department Stores Need to Change the Customer's Experience in Order to Survive

John Krautzel
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It's no secret that the popularity of department stores has waned considerably in recent years. Popular department store chains, including Dillard's, Nordstrom, JC Penney and Macy's, have consistently reported plummeting sales and even begun closing stores. Common sales strategies, such as slashing prices at the end of each season and hosting blowout sales, have not helped these retail giants retain customers. These retailers must do more if they want to stay in the game.

Enhancing the Online Shopping Experience

Most department store chains lose their customers to large retail giants such as, independent retailers who sell their goods on their own websites or popular websites such as eBay and Etsy. Online retailers tend to attract buyers because they generally offer more competitive prices and a wider array of unique goods. One thing department stores can do to compete is work closely with vendors in order to lower the cost of goods. Finding new vendors should be an option if current vendors are unwilling to drop their prices. Searching for new vendors also gives department stores a chance to find manufacturers that offer unique or exclusive items. Incentives such as free shipping or sizable discounts on large orders can also keep customers coming back.

Technology for In-Store Shoppers

Department store chains must think of creative ways to get customers into their physical stores. Shoppers are impressed with technology that tells customers exactly where to locate items in the store, as it saves them time and hassle. Apps that know a customer's entire purchase history and make recommendations based on that information also make shopping quicker and more convenient for busy patrons. Some retailers use robots to deliver items to customers in fitting rooms, and many stores have started using smart mirrors, which allow customers in fitting rooms to adjust lighting, request additional sizes or colors of specific items, or call for human assistance. This type of technology makes department store shopping a more exciting experience and has proven to bring more customers through the door.

Rewarding Customer Loyalty

Recognizing and rewarding loyal customers keeps them coming back to online or physical stores by continuously adding value to the shopping experience. Using a rewards card to keep track of each customer's purchases and offering special incentives such as discounts or free goods encourages customers to spend more in one store. Creating weekly coupons for all customers to use and offering larger discounts to frequent shoppers also attracts regular visitors. Some stores invite regular customers to try products in exchange for reviews on their websites or grant loyal customers exclusive access to special promotions.

To retain customers and survive in the retail industry, department store chains must make each customer's experience their priority while coming up with new and creative ways to increase profits. Building lasting relationships with customers is key if department stores want to win their repeat business. Online shopping is here to stay, so department store chains must also pursue online shoppers vigilantly and turn them into loyal customers in order to compete and boost sales.

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