Reporter’s notebook: Want to succeed at retail? Keep ‘em coming back

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Monday, June 26, 2017

LONG BEACH, Calif. – Along with sales growth, there’s another important retail metric Wayne Slavitt also tracks: repeat business.

“There are two ways to grow,” says Slavitt, founder and CEO of Mobul. “You can sell existing products to new people or sell new products to existing customers.”

Not only is repeat business easier, it’s a good barometer of how happy a customer is with your store, said Slavitt, who said his repeat business represents about 67%, or two-thirds of his overall business.

“We’ve done something right,” he said. “We get a lot of business from our competitors. How do we know? They tell us.”

Poor experience can kill repeat business. It can be anything from products not displayed properly to just poor customer service, said Slavitt.

“People enjoy the personal touch, they enjoy being respected,” he said. “They like having someone really listening to their issue and not just try to sell them the first things that comes to mind.”

Combat ‘showrooming’ with service

While drawing repeat customers is good business, drawing people who don’t plan to spend a dime in your store is not.

Most brick-and-mortar stores—HME and otherwise—have had to put up with “showrooming,” where a customer comes in to check out a product in person, often even taking up valuable employee time, and then buying online, on the theory that it’s cheaper.

For Slavitt, offering white glove delivery service as part of the purchase price is the answer. Mobul will deliver, say, a lift chair, position it for you, install batteries, and remove other furniture if you want. The provider tops it all off with two years of free additional labor to the in-home warranty, says Slavitt.

“If you were to go to the two leading online retailers that sell lift chairs and put that same chair in the cart, pay for their delivery, and add on the two years, guess what?” he said. “Our prices are lower than theirs.”