Building Revenue on a Foundation of Trust

Stacking Trust. Two little words that can jump start your retail sales.

Shoppers can be a fickle bunch. One recent report showed that 80% of apparent retail shoppers will leave a store without making a purchase.

On top of that, costs to acquire a new customer are most often much higher than retaining a customer. The costs to acquire could be as much as 700% higher according to a paper by Frederick F. Reichheld of Bain & Company.

This is where stacking trust begins.

Stacking trust is the idea that with each phase of the buying experience, the shopper is exposed to elements that will impact his perception of your trustworthiness and thus, his tendency to buy. Put simply, the more trust he has in you the more likely he is to buy.

Getting that first sale is a matter of trust through building customer relationships. But there are many steps before the actual sale is made.

When viewed through a prism of trust-building, the process looks something like this…

1) Messaging – what does your store say to your shoppers? The layout, design, color scheme and even the dress choices of the staff can play a role in what the store “says” to shoppers. Think about an Apple store. They are all clean, minimalist, brightly lit with stark white walls. The employees are numerous and all share a young, energetic and techie look about them. Before word one is uttered, the store has spoken to you and has begun to establish trust.

2) Customer engagement – when a shopper is browsing shelves or clothing racks, the trust building can develop. It doesn’t need to be much, just a simple, “Anything I can help you find?” Of course, this engagement will vary depending on the nature of the store, but the idea is the same for high end apparel as it is for discount grocery: Let the shopper know that you are there if she needs you.

3) Merchandising – do you have the products that count? Are they easy to find and organized well? If you sell Mp3 players, the ear buds should be right next to them. Or, have you ever noticed that peanut butter is always right next to the jelly? Sounds silly, but it is a very conscious decision. Point of sale offers are not only upsell opportunities, they continue establishing value and trust. These things all work together to stack trust throughout the shopper experience.

4) The first sale – once a customer picks up a piece of merchandise and has emotionally committed to the purchase, you have them. This is the moment when suggestive selling and cross selling reaches its peak potential. ThinK: “We have the cutest sweater for that top, let me show it to you – it goes perfectly!”

5) The second sale – the shopper has become a customer. How do you plan on closing the second deal? The third? Building customer satisfaction? We’re aiming for a lifelong customer, where each sale is incrementally easier to make than the preceding one. Do you have a loyalty program in place? Do you collect email addresses? Do you have an electronic communication plan in place? All of these things work together to maintain your mindshare, continue to build trust and keep the customer coming back.

6) Rinse and repeat – once you can successfully make a sale and add additional trust builders to increase the average revenue and reduce costs, you’ll want to initiate constant testing and tweaking to improve results over time.

Building trust is an iterative process that will establish the core of your success. From the moment a shopper walks through the door, your opportunity to begin trust building begins. If done right, each step of the sales process will result in increased trust.

And as trust grows, so will your revenue.