In the retail industry, it seems as though we are constantly faced with the issue of trying to find new customers. Most of us are obsessed with making sure our advertising, displays, and pricing all “scream out” to attract new business. This focus on pursuing new customers to increase sales is certainly prudent and necessary, but, at the same time, it can wind up hurting us. Therefore, our focus really should be on the loyal customers – the 20 percent of our clients who currently are our best customers.
In retail, this idea of focusing on the best current customers should be seen as an on-going opportunity. To better understand the rationale behind this theory and to face the challenge of building customer loyalty, we need to break down shoppers into five main types of customers:
- Loyal Customers: They represent no more than 20 percent of our customer base, but make up more than 50 percent of our sales.
- Discount Customers: They shop our stores frequently, but make their decisions based on the size of our markdowns.
- Impulse Customers: They do not have to buy a particular item at the top of their “To Do” list, but come into the store on a whim. They will purchase what seems good at the time.
- Need-Based Customers: They have a specific intention to buy a particular type of item.
- Wandering Customers: They have no specific need or desire in mind when they come into the store. Rather, they want a sense of experience and/or community.
If we are serious about growing our business, we need to focus our effort on the loyal customers and merchandise our store to leverage the impulse shoppers. The other three types of customers do represent a segment of our business, but they can also cause us to misdirect our resources if we put too much emphasis on them.