How to Build and Sustain a Customer-First Retail Culture

Nick Tarsi

By Nick Tarsi, Sales Operations Manager, ReStore for Retail

Building a customer-first retail culture begins by putting your customers at the center of everything you do. But how do you implement a customer-first culture from the boardroom to the fitting room that will help increase customer loyalty, drive higher sales, and create better employee engagement?

There are a few strategies that companies can use to improve customer experience in retail.

Create a Positive Retail Shopping Experience

Creating a positive shopping experience is key to building customer loyalty. Research shows that a 5% increase in customer retention can lead to a 25% increase in profit (Source: By building a customer-first culture, you can keep your customers coming back and create a long-term customer base.

To improve customer experience in retail, human interaction is key. Associates must be available at all times to help customers overcome common problems (out of stock items, assist with loyalty accounts, etc.). It starts with improving employee engagement.

Increase Employee Engagement

When employees feel empowered to create a positive shopping experience, they are more engaged and motivated. This translates to better job satisfaction and lower turnover rates. According to research by Gallup, businesses with highly engaged employees see a 21% increase in profitability. A customer-first retail culture follows a more engaged workforce on the retail floor.

Don’t fall into the common pitfalls that so many retailers are guilty of resulting in high associate turnover:

●      Minimal communication between associates and the company.

●      Onboarding and training that leaves workers feeling underprepared.

●      Inability to see connection between daily tasks and strategic purpose.

And how do you get employees engaged on the floor?  Meet them where they are and help them to feel a sense of satisfaction that all employees would want from their companies.  This requires employees to understand what’s expected of them (which isn’t as simple as you would think) and have an open line of communication to receive feedback.

Emphasize Empathy

Say that five times fast. The foundation of a customer-first retail company culture is exceptional customer service and the key to customer service is empathy. Encourage and reward employees to be friendly, knowledgeable, and responsive to customers' questions and concerns. Empathy alone won’t matter if associates don’t have the time to spend with customers. Retailers need to maximize the floor time associates get with customers by reducing the time spent on lower value tasks.

A customer-first culture requires employees to be empowered to make decisions that benefit customers. Train your employees to make decisions based on what is best for the customer, even if it means bending the rules. Encourage them to be proactive in identifying and solving customer issues. This not only creates a positive customer experience but also boosts employee confidence and job satisfaction.

Wrap Up

I’ve seen that the right combination of service and tools can be valuable to retailers in driving a customer-first retail culture.

To achieve higher standards of execution, our customers use Hilco Global’s ReStore for Retail solution. ReStore for Retail is a tech-enabled solution that empowers retailers to get back to the business of retailing - by simplifying daily store operations so staff can spend more time connecting with customers. With more face time comes the ability to build and drive a customer-first culture.

ReStore for Retail enables people in retail to get back to the business of retailing