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    One of a kind, not one size fits all: Customer segments and how to cater to them

    Few sectors have closer, more regular contact with their customers than retail businesses.

    Across Australia, retailers interact with tens of thousands of shoppers every day.

    No two customers are the same, though, and understanding the subtle and not-so-subtle differences that set each segment apart is what sets some retailers ahead of the pack.

    Some shoppers know exactly what they want and prefer to be left to their own devices, others require guidance and a hands-on approach, and many fall in between.

    Understanding who is who, and what they need from your business is one of the industry’s biggest rewards and biggest challenges. Savvy businesses know that one-size-fits-all approaches are far less effective than tailored customer experiences.

    Here are some of the shoppers you might come across and how to appeal to them.

    The regular shoppers

    Regular shoppers are your most valuable customers.

    It’s five times more expensive to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one, so by keeping them happy, you can keep your business happy too.

    In fact, even a marginal five percent increase in customer loyalty can help you boost profits by anywhere from 25% to 95%.

    Don’t rest on your laurels though; you still need to provide the warm, tailored and effective customer service to keep them coming back.

    So, to ensure they feel valued, find out what they loved about your business in the first place, and give them more of it.

    For example, if you know that a particular customer likes getting one-on-one treatment from your staff, try to repeat that when they’re next in store. Or if they were incentivised by a targeted discount based on their previous purchases, offer it again.

    Perfecting your customer service isn’t a set-and-forget task, it requires regular analysis and refinement. Treat regular customers as an opportunity to improve and evolve customer experience and incentivise loyalty to bring business long-term stability.

    The informed shopper

    Internet penetration in Australia stood at a lofty 88% in 2020.

    That means there’s potentially millions of consumers out there using the internet to research brands and products online.

    Known as the informed shopper, these contemporary consumers are common today, using the internet to research online, compare product reviews, brand testimonials and price comparisons before making a purchase.

    63% of Aussie shoppers admit to researching products online before visiting stores.

    While these shoppers rely on online channels, they still shop in store, so you’ll need an omnichannel strategy that aligns your ecommerce, social media and bricks-and-mortar presence to boost your visibility at every touch point.

    Due to the digital transformation boom that followed lock down last year, the informed shopper is likely spoilt for choice for online retailers.

    To stand out, determine what makes your businesses unique. Whether it’s the strength of your customers testimonials, competitiveness of your price or the appeal of your business’ mission, identify your USP and use it to promote your business online.

    The on-a-mission shopper

    The on-a-mission shoppers are customers who already know exactly what they want to buy and intend to just get in and out of your store.

    They’re the shoppers who visit on their lunch break, when they’re en route to another commitment or just have a long ‘to-do’ list and not enough time to reach the bottom.

    As a retailer, the best thing you can do is give them space.

    If they have questions, give them straight, jargon-free answers and don’t try to upsell; make the entire process simple and convenient.

    If a queue for the checkout is taking too long, open another counter, or if you see them waiting to speak with a colleague who is occupied, offer to help them yourself.

    A seamless experience is imperative for them, and if provided, it’s likely that they’ll remember your business.

    The chatty shopper

    At the opposite end of the spectrum is the chatty shopper.

    These are customers who love to talk and tell stories, and while you like their enthusiasm, they can sometimes keep you from doing your job or taking care of other shoppers.

    If it’s a slow day, engage with them and grow the rapport, but if your shop floor gets busier, don’t ignore other shoppers who might require your assistance.

    If you encounter these shoppers, take some time to ask questions, listen intently and express a genuine interest in what they’re saying. However, know where to draw the line.

    Once someone gets to the point where they’re creating a queue or have gone a little too off topic, thank them for their time and politely remind them that you have other customers to serve.

    Whether they’re decisive or indecisive, a regular or one-off, every shopper has different traits that, if identified and catered to effectively, can increase their loyalty to your brand.

    Treat every interaction as an opportunity to understand your customers better, and you might find that you’re better equipped to provide the personalised, meaningful experiences that customers crave today.

    Gordana Redzovski is Vice President for APAC at Vend, the industry-leading point of sale and retail management platform that lets retailers run their business in-store, online and on-the-go.

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