Retailers must cover all the bases

Where do you stand on opening hours? For those running retail businesses, it’s difficult issue to grapple with. Stay open late and for the maximum possible on Sunday boosts customer convenience and may mean an edge over the competition, but it can also incur steep costs in terms of labour.

One option may be to look at live chat, which is already something more auto retailers are now using. This can be particularly useful for potential buyers browsing cars when they get home from work or when they are on a work break.

There is no doubt that retailers need to make sure they are ready to maximise every opportunity to communicate with customers. The latest retail figures are a stark reminder of this and were disappointing to say the least, tumbling almost 0.8%.

This meant that third-quarter retail growth slowed to a year-on-year rate of 1.5%, the lowest since the second quarter of 2013.

So better use of technology combined with the most engaging and well-trained people should result in an effective suit of armour. It was interesting to read Debenhams new strategy is to take away stockroom tasks from many of its employees in customer facing roles so they could provide an improved experience.

Certainly, there is no let up in sight for those selling cars as shown by news that Facebook is now listing used cars with a small network of dealers, albeit currently only in the US. Notably, it says that use of its Messenger facility will be a vital part of the service, allowing users to speak directly to the dealers once they have spotted a car of interest.

Live chat still means investment in terms of the technology and staff training, but it increasingly for retailers wanting to keep up with the competition, it appears to be as critical as having a website.

Rachel Gordon


Auto Retail Network


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