Taylor Pratt at Marketing Pilgrim wrote about a study from e-consultancy that showed online retailers out-ranking offline retail for customer satisfaction. This may come as a surprise for many, but here’s why I think it makes sense.
In the offline world, entering a retail store has become a crap-shoot. After enough poor experiences with under-trained staff, one begins to realize that there is little reason to visit a physical store outside of being able to possibly handle the product one is considering purchasing. Sure, there are plenty of very caring, knowledgeable people working in offline retail, but the bad experiences tend to be remembered more than the positive ones.
Compare that to the online world where the equation changes. Online, retailers have one “employee” interacting with a prospective buyer: the product’s webpage. Since there is only one relationship to manage, it can be turned into a thing of beauty. Photos, price information, reviews, buying history, comparable products, etc. The retailer can put their best people to work on creating as close to perfect of an experience with that product as possible for each and every prospective buyer who visits that page. It’s consistently awesome.
That is, if retailers understand this concept. Sadly, it appears that many are still putting their best talent to work managing a single offline store when their talents could be used on a much larger scale to reach a national or international audience. Instead, many retailers appear to be continuing to view their online store as a division of the IT department rather than what likely could be the retailer’s single largest store – dwarfing the sales of what a physical store can generate.