The face of retail is changing in the 21st century. Blame it on Amazon, the Internet or Millennials. It really doesn’t matter.
What does matter is what you do to stay on track. How are you going to stay on top of this considerable shift in shopping?
To assist you, we look at six things your customers want to see when they walk into your shop.
But, first, let’s look at this changing face of retail so you have an understanding of what’s going on in the market today.
Retail in the Last 20 Years
The 1990s saw the rise of the Internet. This was the very beginning of the change. It’s been a slow march as we all got accustomed to absorbing content, communicating and making purchases online.
This gradual change started to affect local retail businesses, and in the last few years it’s had a profound impact.
With the largess of Amazon, it seems nearly anything can be purchased from this eCommerce giant. It’s been a virtual onslaught – their prices are lower, they offer free shipping, and now they’ve introduced home services.
So, it’s easy to say that eCommerce has probably affected your retail shop. But, you can compete with Amazon and other eCommerce giants.
How? You’ve got to shake things up a bit in your store. Let’s dive into six things your customers want to see when they walk into your shop.
#1: A Unique Experience
If today’s consumer is to be convinced to shop in your store and not online, they want to be assured a special experience.
Customers want to be transported away from the stress of their daily lives when they walk into your shop. Consider the gift shop that specializes in high-end antiques from France.
If you’ve created a gorgeous display, and your store oozes Parisian style, you can bet shoppers will prefer shopping in your store than venturing online.
Today’s consumer wants a sensory experience when they walk into your shop. How do you do this?
Take a look at your store from the customer’s perspective. Will they feel like they’ve stepped into a wonderland of uniquities? Or, do you look like every other store in town?
Make a point to decorate your store with flair, catering to your target clientele. Play music, offer refreshments and build excitement through the ambiance of your shop.
#2: Superior Customer Service
This is one area where your shop can really shine.
The minute your customer walks into your shop, they should be greeted. Remember, we said they should be greeted, not “attacked” with a sales pitch. Say hello, offer them a glass of water and then walk away.
Then, give them a few minutes to look around before offering your one-of-a-kind customer service. Train your staff so they know how to provide exceptional customer service.
According to one study, 90% of shoppers are more likely to make a purchase after an employee offers assistance.
Baby Boomers expect good service, and even Millennials appreciate high-value, personal interactions with shop staff.
Remember that one of the tricks to good customer service is improving employee morale. When your employees are happy, your customers are even happier.
#3: Online Integration
You can bet that most people who walk in the doors of your shop have visited your website.
Does what they see there match what they see inside your shop? They expect it to.
If it doesn’t, you are confusing your customers.
Using the example of the French antique store, does your website match the look and feel you’ve incorporated in your brick and mortar location?
If not, you want to change it. Your website and your shop work in tandem to build your brand identity. Don’t let one fight with the other.
Again, look at your site as your customer would. What are they looking for online before they come into your store?
Perhaps they want to order online and come to the store for pick up? If you sell clothing, model your experience after Gap. They allow customers to pick out items online to try on in the store.
This is superb customer service, and it’s good for you, too. You get the customer in the store where you can offer hospitality and work towards the upsell.
#4: Quick Checkout
If you’ve been in retail long enough, you know customers don’t have much patience when it comes to check out times.
This is, in fact, one of the reasons people shop online. They can do it on their own time and in their own way.
Do what you can in your shop to provide a quick, streamlined checkout process. Make shopping in your store easy and convenient.
The longer you ask customers to wait, the longer they wonder if they really need to make the purchase.
Perks make a big difference for shoppers. When they walk in your shop, they want rewards, specials and bonuses.
The online eCommerce atmosphere, and the recession of several years ago, created an environment where shoppers almost feel like they should be rewarded for shopping with you.
Meet them where they are and offer them perks.
Some things to consider are free gift wrap, free delivery, loyalty rewards and ongoing specials.
#6: A Relationship
When customers walk into your shop, they are beginning a relationship with you. Consider this the initial first impression.
Make a good one, and they’ll come back. Don’t do so well, and you’ll never see them again, and they’ll tell their friends not to visit your shop.
Understand what your customer wants and needs by listening carefully. Then work slowly towards building a relationship with the customer that has longevity.
For example, a customer walks in looking for a certain toy, and you are out of stock. Take their name and number and call them when the new stock arrives. Offer to wrap it for the child’s birthday.
Take an interest in your customers and do what you can to nurture a relationship.
Another way to do this is through social media and email marketing. Your customers expect to be asked for their email address when shopping in your store.
Reward them by providing content that is valuable, educational and useful. This is a great way to build that relationship.
Retail shops have undergone a change in the last few years. Changing consumer needs and attitudes necessitate a change in the way you do business.
It’s a customer-centric world, and to keep building your business, it pays to provide customers with the things they want to see when they walk into your shop.
What is your favorite trick for making customers feel right at home? Have you tried any of the tactics mentioned here? What are your tricks for success? Please comment below to share your tips with others.