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    Retailers’ Guide to Improving the Transactional Customer Experience


    “We don’t want to push our ideas onto customers; we simply want to make what they want.” –Laura Ashley.

    In today’s digital age, customers expect a smooth and effortless shopping experience, regardless of whether they purchase online or in-store. Unfortunately, many retailers still struggle to deliver on this expectation, resulting in an unsatisfactory transactional customer experience.

    This guide is designed to help retailers understand the transactional customer experience by maintaining the seamlessness that customers appreciate, the efficiency that keeps prices down, and the gratitude that retains them.

    What is Transactional Customer Service in Retail?

    Sometimes (often actually) in business, you do know where you’re going, and when you do, you can be efficient. – Jeff Bezos

    The transactional component of retailing focuses on providing an efficient and consistently seamless customer experience. Once the business completes a transaction, there is no further interaction with the customer other than potential customer service assistance.

    Pure transactional selling means no formal relationship between the company and the customer. For instance, in the retail industry, customers search for the products they want or need, pay for them at the checkout or self-serve kiosk, and leave the store. The transactional business model intends not to make the shopping experience cold but rather to make the experience as convenient as possible for the customer.

    What is Customer Experience?

    Customer experience is the customers’ perception of how a company treats them. These perceptions affect their behaviors, and build memories and feelings to drive their loyalty.

    • Customer experience has fast become a top priority for businesses and 2023 will be no different. But, why are so many companies focusing on the customer experience and what happens to companies that choose to ignore it? (SuperOffice, 2022)
    • Customers no longer base their loyalty on price or product. Instead, they stay loyal with companies due to the experience they receive. If you cannot keep up with their increasing demands, your customers will leave you.
    • Cross-device shopping via a wide range of channels has made it difficult for companies to maintain consistency. Processes and technologies need to change in order to provide a consistent experience across all platforms.

    When is transactional customer service useful? 

    “Good customer service costs less than bad customer service.” – Sally Gronow.

    Purely transactional approaches to the customer experience are not ideal for every business. Moreover, there is a clear distinction between transactional marketing and transaction retailing. Transactional marketing focuses on quick sales turnover and volumes. In contrast, transactional retail focuses on giving customers what they want efficiently.

    For example, at a busy supermarket or wholesaler such as Costco, many customers are happy to find their products, pay for them and get them home as conveniently as possible. In this context, it is the efficiency and hassle-free experience that customers will remember and appreciate.

    The Advantage of a Transactional Retail Relationship:

    Transactional retailing appeals to price-oriented shoppers that aren’t as concerned with elite customer service. In its purest form, transactional connections with price-conscious shoppers are short-lived.

    This is because consumers seeking the lowest-price options generally commit to price over brand or business. As a result, unless the retailer can maintain low or discounted prices indefinitely, they are unlikely to enjoy retaining customers over the long term. 

    ●      93% of customers are likely to make repeat purchases with companies who offer excellent customer service. (HubSpot Research)


    Additional benefits from transactional retailing include

    • It’s a cost-effective model because it doesn’t focus on brand image and low promotional costs. (Harappa)
    • The experience is not one-sided; both shopper and retail achieve a win-win experience
    • There is the transparency of expectations in the buyer-seller relationship
    • The responsibilities of the shopper and business are understood
    • There is a sense of security and safety for both participants in the transaction
    • Keeps inventory low through high-volume sales and low prices

    The Disadvantages of Transactional Retail Relationships

    Over time, pure transactional relationships are repetitive, cold and can breed resentment. The main flaw in transactional retail is the belief that every customer can be dealt with on a one-size-fits-all basis. Meaning that every shopper is the same and can integrate into a standardized process.

    • Dissatisfied customers will tell ten friends, whereas satisfied customers only tell a few. (Business Insider)

    Thus, when an unusual request or unique situation arises, and it will, the transactional system is unable to adapt, and suddenly efficiency becomes unattractive, inflexible, and bound to cause resentment.

    Transactional Retail in Summary 

    “When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed.” – Indra Nooyi, Former CEO of Pepsico.

    A transactional approach may be the right fit for your business if you’re looking for an efficient and professional customer experience. This type of customer service focuses on making the sale and providing a consistent experience to each customer, which is good and important!

    Once the transaction is complete, there is no further interaction with the customer other than potential customer service assistance. Transactional business models maximize efficiency by simplifying processes and passing on those savings to consumers. And For this reason, transactional approaches to selling often get a bad rap for being cold and inflexible.

    Still, with the rapid rise of technology in a dynamic business environment, retailers must be pragmatic in their customer approach. This article has demonstrated that transactional selling, while an essential component of any retail operation, must also recognize the importance of developing relationships and maintaining a positive rapport with customers.

    Hence, the key to making the transactional experience positive is ensuring there is enough process flexibility to deal with unique situations. Furthermore, retailers must ensure that efficiency includes friendly communication, attentive customer assistance, and a genuine display of gratitude for choosing your company to do business with.

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