5 Signs that you’re in a relationship with your retailer … or not


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The most important “sale” made every day is building relationships

Retail Relationships

Image Credit: Stuart Miles

There is a classic phrase among my children that the relationship must be “real” when they post it on Facebook. Unfortunately, there is no Facebook for recording the status of retailer relationships with consumers. Far too many retailers blindly assume that they have a “relationship” with their customers. Times have changed. A traditional retailer loyalty card does not equal trust or a relationship. Today’s omnichannel consumers have much higher expectations for personalized service before, during and after a purchase. Retailers would be well served to carefully analyze what consumers consider and value in a relationship.

Why this is important: With all the options available in omnichannel, today’s consumers are less brand loyal. Repeat business is earned through creating personalized service that customers value beyond price and “bonus points”.

What is a “relationship”?

We most often think of relationships on a personal level. But, if you look up the definition of relationship, it also applies to retail and business as well. Relationship is generally defined as:

Relationship is the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or parties are connected, or the state of being connected.

  1. The state of being connected (often by blood or marriage)

  2. The state of affairs existing between those having relations or dealings

  3. The way in which two or more people or organizations regard and behave

Metrics like Net Promoter Score have becomes standards for measuring consumer’s regard or relationship with a brand. But, that is the index of the outcome or state of affairs in the relationship. The “behave” becomes the interesting component of how businesses can create and sustain a relationship that drives repeat business and customer loyalty beyond price.

Going forward, omnichannel consumers have incredible options for products and price on their phones. Retailers need to be asking (and measuring) how they can “behave” in ways that consumers will return to purchase tomorrow … and even more importantly, tell everyone about their great experience.

It’s not rocket science! Consumers want a personal relationship

Today’s omnichannel consumer can get millions of products from a host of sources. They can also use their smartphone to search and grab best prices on particular products of interest. In short, the traditional retailer value propositions of product selection and price have been disrupted by omnichannel, where the consumer is in control of their purchase journey.

Increasingly, consumers value service beyond the website or store. They want a relationship beyond the transaction of products at a price. They value convenience, choice, personalization, services and support. Said another way, they want to be in a relationship where the retailer knows them, takes care of them, and goes out of their way to appreciate their business. 


Image Credit: Blackzheep

Customer Point of View – 5 Signs you have a relationship with a retailer

The nature and depth of the relationship is largely determined by how the parties behave and regard one another. In an omnichannel world, the consumer now directly controls how, when and where they shop, and ultimately purchase. Far too many retailers view this new level of consumer control as a threat.

The enlightened retailers see these consumer expectations as a major, strategic opportunity to differentiate in ways to add value beyond price and promotion.

  1. Use MY name and MY preferences

    There is nothing more personal than your name. The best way to engage customers is to use their name appropriately in all conversations and transactions. And, take the time and effort to spell it right every time. The relationship becomes personally meaningful when a business starts with your name and then adds other relevant pieces of information. I am Chris Petersen (not Peterson) who is a business owner and avid wildlife photographer. Knowing all of these facts enables many opportunities for a retailer to earn my respect, repeat purchases and loyalty.

  2. Know all of MY location(s)

    There is nothing more irritating that having to re-enter all of my location and credit card data every time I purchase. My billing address is typically different from my shipping address, which can be different from the address for the credit cards and PayPal I use. If you want to earn my repeat business, keep all of those on file at my fingertips, and guarantee their security. In short, make it very easy, quick and convenient to order and pay.

  3. Record My past purchases

    Yes, I should keep track of things, but I now shop from my mobile phone and often don’t have access to my files and records on past purchases. If you can keep my purchases on file and make them accessible, I would be forever grateful! And, if you make it really easy to find them, it’s going to make it really easy to repurchase what I use most often, especially consumables that I use every month. May sound crazy, but I order from the retailer that keeps all of my purchase history on file, and I order most from the few that keeps track of the products I researched and saved to lists.

  4. Keep ME current on MY status and options

    I made the time to research and purchase from you. So, where is it? You don’t have to call (although that would be nice occasionally). I simply want to know if the order is in stock, has it shipped, and where is it currently? If I’m not going to be home, I also want to know my options for changing shipping and delivery. Make that easy and accessible on my phone, and you have created high value for me, and high probability that you will have my next order.

  5. Don’t go away after the Sale! Give ME some support

    To paraphrase a cliché … I’m not looking for a one night stand. I might need support after your sale. What if the product is damaged or I need to return it for some reason? How can I get someone to answer a question, or support installing it? The absolute best way to earn my repeat business is treat me with respect and support me.

Does any retailer really behave in these ways?

If you ask customers if they value the 5 behaviors above, they will enthusiastically respond YES! Unfortunately, if you ask them how many retailers can do all 5, customers can only name a few that really can do them consistently. The biggest missed investment in retail today is CRM (Customer Relationship Management). Far too many retailers see CRM as expense rather than a strategic way to earn loyalty and repeat sales.

Want to know who can deliver all of the above 24/7/365 … Amazon! But, what about service after the sale? Check out Amazon Home Services!

Every retailer competes with Amazon. Most simply don’t realize how they are being blinded side by the depth and breadth of Amazon’s behaviors that are building incredibly loyal, and profitable customer relationships!

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Republished with author's permission from original post.

Chris Petersen, Ph.D.
Chris H. Petersen, PhD, CEO of Integrated Marketing Solutions is a strategic consultant who specializes in retail, leadership, marketing, and measurement. He has built a legacy through working with Fortune 500 companies to achieve measurable results in improving their performance and partnerships. Chris is the founder of IMS Retail University, a series of strategic workshops focusing on the critical elements of competing profitably in the increasingly complex retail marketplace.


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