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3 FFL Takeaways from Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer Report

Written by Orchid

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November 03, 2022

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White text atop red background next to cover graphic of Salesforce State of the Connected Customer Report

Though less friendly to the firearms industry, as one of the world’s largest customer relationship management (CRM) software companies, Salesforce knows a thing or two about connecting businesses with customers. Still, there’s always more to learn, as highlighted in the fifth edition of their ‘State of the Connected Customer Report.’

Surveying nearly 17,000 combined consumers and business buyers worldwide, the report summarizes findings under four topics. Though we encourage you to read it for yourself, we’ve done one better and came away with three key takeaways for your retail or manufacturing firearms business.

Trust Is a Valued Commodity
Amid the uncertainty of the pandemic, long-established norms became a distant memory. Searching for a firm footing in the changing retail landscape, customers turned to businesses for trust.

According to the Salesforce survey, 88% of customers believe trust becomes more important in times of change (i.e., the pandemic). Like any relationship, a foundation of trust is built on honesty and transparency. However, only 52% of consumers report trusting companies – up 4% since 2020. Yet, the number one thing (77%) customers trust companies to do is make honest claims about their products and services.

In an industry where consumers often get what they pay for and bold claims of performance and durability are often inflated, it’s important FFLs appeal to consumers with quality products, fair price points, and authenticity to gain – and maintain – trust.

Competition Tests Brand Loyalty
Speaking of retaining customers, brand loyalty isn’t what it once was. With increasing competition, consumers are no longer beholden to one brand.

In fact, 71% of survey respondents reported having switched brands at least once in the last year, with the top three reasons being better deals (66%), better product quality (58%) and better customer service (48%). Further, 94% said they were more likely to purchase from a business again following a positive customer service experience.

While not as interchangeable as shoes or streaming services, FFLs are not invulnerable to changing consumer habits. With more firearms on the market and the ecommerce landscape growing, gun consumers have more options when it comes to what to buy and where to buy it. And if customer service doesn’t resolve issues timely, or with transparency, consumers will simply take their money elsewhere.

Customer Engagement is Digital-First
For many customers, that “elsewhere” is now online. When brick-and-mortar retailers were forced to close or restrict access during the shutdown, ecommerce filled the void for consumers.

Today, 57% of customers prefer to engage through digital channels, such as ecommerce and social media, with 68% reported purchasing products in new, non-traditional ways in the last two years and more than half (53%) preferring to purchase online versus in-store. Still, that means 43% of customers prefer non-digital channels, meaning there is value in both online and offline customer experiences. And to 88% of customers, that experience is just as important as its products or services

All of this to say, if your FFL does not have an online presence, you’re already behind the eight ball. A website alone can boost awareness of your business, but a webstore can better serve local customers while extending your reach on a state or national level. In addition, arming your FFL with an ecommerce platform that integrates with your point of sale (POS) system or distributor catalogs can optimize operations and grow sales.

Whether manufacturer or retailer, your end user is the customer. As such, better understanding the wants, needs, and thoughts of customers will allow your FFL to better engage and serve your audience, stand out from competition, and grow your business. Contact Orchid to learn how your FFL can implement an ecommerce store, integrated POS, and other technology solutions today.

The full Salesforce ‘State of the Connected Customer Report’ can be found here.

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