Take a moment to view this short video presentation by Jon Skinner of the Verde Group for the International Council of Shopping Centers on "Retaining Customer Center Shoppers". In it, Jon discusses a shopper survey done in conjunction with the Wharton School of Business of over 1,000 shoppers. While the target audience is shopping center managers, there is quite a bit that commercial district managers can learn by applying similar principles to our work.
So, why do I keep talking about shopping centers when this blog is about commercial districts? Well, because frankly I believe that there is not much of a difference. Our commercial districts are basically open-air (mixed-use) shopping centers - but instead of being owned by a single owner with the power to control and improve the environment, they are owned by many owners who are often working with different objectives and goals. This only making our work more difficult, but essentially, the same.
I really appreciate this video because it identifies some key issues that as to why shoppers don't return to a retail store...this is need to know information during difficult economic times!
Here is what they found:
- The most significant problem that drives shoppers away are 'sales associate problems', i.e. customer service problems that a shopper may encounter with someone working at the store. Amazingly, 70% of customers who don't return to a store do so because of customer service problems they encounter in a store. And interestingly enough, WOMEN are more bothered by these customer service problems than are men. To make matters worse, over 50% of shoppers will not shop at a store they have never even been to because of a negative comment about the experience that a friend or colleague had at the store. Wow.
- Another very critical point (and perhaps most important for commercial district revitalization efforts) made by this research is that the shopping center itself plays a significant role in shopper satisfaction. In the case of commercial districts the corollary is what happens on the street. I call this the 'outside-the-store' or 'on-street' experience. This is super critical for commercial districts because at the end of the day, it is the 'outside-the-store' experience that commercial district management entities can control most effectively. Everything from street scape, safety/security, services, events, etc. make a big difference to shopper satisfaction. These outside-the-store experiences are what ultimately set the stage for the in-store sale. The research presented here makes it clear, retailers DO suffer significantly when the district itself is shoddy, unkempt or unsafe. Yet another reason to make sure you always keep on eye on those basic housekeeping details.