The first step to success

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Understanding who your customers are and obtaining their feedback is the first step to success as a multichannel retailer. Establish your business goals and you will have your research objectives. Translate those objectives into questions that your customers can answer, and this will insure that you will receive results you can use.

There are many more issues now that multichannel retailers need to consider than there were 10 years ago. Research for a multichannel retailer means looking at its customer service in two or three channels, understanding the way in which its products are positioned and described, the impact of promotions by channel, and the overall impact of marketing in one channel with sales in another.

Don't be intimidated at the thought of speaking with your customers. People are generally all too happy to speak with a business about the products and services they're offering, whether it's good or bad. Humans love giving their opinions, and it makes them feel special to think that you care enough about their needs to ask if you're meeting their expectations.

Step 1

Typical objectives for first-time research include getting customer feedback on:

1. Merchandise selection, new product categories, and unique products found only in your catalog;

2. Your company's image;

3. The competition;

4. The pros and cons of your product layout, copy, benefits and photography; and

5. Demographics so you better understand who buys from you

Step 2

The second step is to understand what the information that you've gathered means, and to translate it into actionable steps that will make a difference to your business.

A good research company will understand your business objectives, and will suggest the most appropriate methodology for obtaining customer feedback. It will create the research instrument, such as a survey, analyze the results for you, and make recommendations based on the outcome.

By providing the products or services that your customers want, and by including the benefits along with accurate visuals at an appropriate price relative to the perceived value, you will not only attract new customers, but retain them as well.

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