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Bad staff will be the death of stores, not online shopping

Bad staff will spell the end of retail. Source: Getty

Amanda Stevens will speak about changing consumer behaviour at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit on the 26th September 2019 in the Shangri-La, Sydney. Check out the full line-up of speakers and agenda for this groundbreaking event here.

Traditional bricks and mortar retailers can “whinge and whine all they want”, but retail expert Amanda Stevens says online shopping is here to stay, and retailers will fall behind if they don’t “lift their game”.

“I spend a lot of money online, but I really enjoy a traditional retail experience when it's done right. The problem is that there's not many retailers who have really got their customer experience right.”

So where are they going wrong?

“Big traditional retailers have really cut back on staff, they've cut back on training and then they wonder why people choose to shop online. So, 61 per cent of Australian consumers now say they get a better experience online and they do in store.”

“That, to me, says that traditional retailers just aren't getting it,” Stevens said.

“They're not leveraging the opportunity that they literally have right now to create a competitive advantage with the customer experience. But that involves investing in their staff and really getting that customer journey right and giving consumers a reason to shop in store.”

What does a good customer experience look like?

“There's 100 factors. Every touch point has got to be exceptional.”

And that means merchandising, having the right product, creating the right environment for consumers in-store and doing everything to make the customer want to come back.

“I don't have many retail experiences these days that feel sticky. And what I mean by that is that I don't have many experiences in-store that make me really feel compelled to go back to that store.”

And while Stevens admits traditional retailers are going through a tough time, some brands are really get it right.

“Brands like JB Hi-Fi just announced quite a surprise profit result,” she said.

“If you've been into JB Hi-Fi lately, it's a fast-moving big box retailer, but they really have knowledgeable staff, which is always a sigh of relief for consumers versus other retailers you go into, and you could spend up to 15 minutes finding someone to give your money to.”

Stevens said retailers needed to stop seeing staff as a “cost on the bottom line” and start seeing them “as an investment”.

“They have the ability to turn each and every customer into a brand advocate but they've got to be empowered to do that, and have got to be shown how to do that, and they've got to be rewarded for doing them.”

Yahoo Finance's All Markets Summit will take place on September 26th. Source: Supplied

Will we see the end of bricks and mortar?

While online shopping has the advantage of convenience, all Aussies really want is a good experience.

“The current research says that Australian consumers are willing to spend, on average, between 12 and 16 per cent more for a product or a service if it delivers a great experience.”

But for stores like Myer and David Jones, it could spell the end.

“I think we're definitely going to see a lot of consolidation. I predicted a few years ago that David Jones and Myer would have to merge at some point, or change their business model. I'm still of that view.”

Stevens said David Jones’ $423 million write-down was “not sustainable”, and the department store needed to “change their strategy dramatically, or find a different model,” she said.

Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit will take place on the 26th September 2019 in the Shangri-La, Sydney. Check out the full line-up of speakers and agenda for this groundbreaking event here.