Transactional Vs Relational Shoppers

Here's some interesting information that supports this assertion. There are two broad "types" of shoppers; transactional and relational. Most people are not all one way or the other but you'll see a mix of these two shopping motivations in your customers that can help you to work with them appropriately.

Transactional shoppers are most interested in price or "the deal" you're offering. They shop around a lot, and rarely, if ever, make a purchase on their first visit to your store. This partially explains why close ratios for home furnishings are low compared with some other kinds of retailing. These shoppers will tell everyone they know if they believe they got a good deal at your store, so when you sell them, they can be a good source of new business.

There's little or no loyalty with these folks, though. They're just as likely to buy somewhere else the next time. They're not interested in a "relationship" with your store or your salespeople, just in getting the best price. They also don't value design help.

When you get these people back a second time on the same shopping project, they buy a very high percentage of the time because you've already convinced them that you've got great prices.

Relational shoppers on the other hand, are typically less concerned about price, or "the deal," and seek a relation-

January/February 2009 FURNITURE WORLD 35

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in our ship with your store and, if they earn it, with a salesperson. These people need a lot of help with the design aspects of their purchasing decisions, and need someone they trust to tell them to go ahead and buy. These people are more likely to buy on their first visit as long as they feel they are valued and their needs for support are met. They'll be loyal to the relationship as long as you work to maintain it. Just remember that these are different times from "normal."

Most of us display a mix of the two modes depending on the nature of the products we're shopping for. For example, where product distinctions are clear as in cars, or TV's, and there is a lot of information available regarding quality, features, and pricing - as would be the case in both product categories when a rating source such as Consumer Reports exists, we tend to be more transactional. Where more consultative selling is required, as it is in furniture, little comparative information is available, and outcomes affect quality of life issues, we become more relational.

So how does this affect us now? Everyone becomes more transactional in times like this.

Still, experience shows that when customers return to your store a second time, your close ratio will be over 70% and as high as 90% for your better salespeople. The problem is getting them back, particularly those transactional types. This is why you need a system for dealing with both types of customers the first time you meet them, and ways to determine if they lean toward transactional or relational buying. You also need a strong follow up system that is transparent to management and managed closely. Of course, before you can follow up, you have to have the customer's contact information and permission to follow up. For this to happen, you have to serve everyone at the highest possible level, accounting for the uncertainty customers have about your products (no information or ratings available) and the affect the decision to purchase has on people's lives.

Be-Backs are everything in our business, and in these conditions more so than ever. Everyone is a transactional shopper these days, but you can still uncover the hidden core of need if you pay close attention, and get them back one more time. This is the kind of game that needs to be coached play-by-play, on the field by the top managers working with their players in the game. This sport, unlike real sports, is one where the coaches and owners can actually play in the game.

Joe Capillo is a furniture industry veteran with 35 years combined experience as a retail consultant and retail industry executive. He is a contributing editor to FURNITURE WORLD and a frequent speaker at industry functions. Joe makes himself available for private consultations on any aspect of retail sales management and sales education. He can be reached at [email protected]. See all of Joe's articles on the information packed FURNITURE WORLD website

January/February 2009 FURNITURE WORLD 37

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