I honestly believe the answer hasn’t changed much over the years. It was about The Experience for me when I started shopping as a young adult. It’s about The Experience now as well. Shopping is not just a necessity. People that love to shop really love to shop. Those people also spend more money than those that just shop out of necessity. So what makes a shopping experience good enough to talk about? Great enough to want to do over and over again? Exceptional enough to get shoppers talking to other people about?
Create Experiences. Give the customer something more than just the products on your shelf or the service that you provide. Give them a “Memorable Experience” to go along with their purchase and you will keep them as repeat customers. When I was a little girl the local Kroger grocery store was one of my favorite places to go. They knew my mom’s name and the baker always gave me a cookie. Simple right? Yes! And their personal attention made my mom happy enough to continue to shop there even when the larger stores came in with cheaper prices. Apple and Starbucks are two retailers that do this well. Interesting to note, these are also companies that treat their employees extremely well and consistently rank as some of the better places to work in retail. So we are back to my favorite phrase: Happy employees make happy customers and happy customers spend money.
Hire right. Customer experiences boil down to how your front line staff interacts and reacts every day. Make sure you are hiring “ambassadors” for your brand. You want people that believe in your product and share your vision. This is easier said than done. Here are some tips
for hiring the right people.
Make it personal. Work towards making every customer interaction personal for the customer. Hire employees that are truly good at communicating positively with your customer base and give them the knowledge, tools and authority to fully help each customer.
Do something different. Is it possible to create a “boutique” in your store? Something that is truly unique and will create a comfortable, fuzzy feeling? Is your product line better served with something more modern and flashier? Bright colors and upbeat music? Do you have products that can be demonstrated? Demonstrations drive up conversions and they can make great “memorable experiences” when done correctly. Really sit down and determine what you want your store’s “personality” to be. Don’t be shy, ask your customers for their opinions on what they like and don’t like. Are you on social media? Monitor what your customers are saying. This is also a great place to poll them for opinions!
Don’t forget convenience. Are your products easy to reach and see? What about your checkout process? Once the customer is ready to make a purchase make sure the transaction is efficient and seamless. How about returns? Ensure that your return policy is flexible and generous. A bad experience during a return is a sure way to lose customers and gain very negative attention.
Get outside of your four walls. As an owner operator there is never enough time in a day. It is very easy to get pinned inside of your store. Don’t let that happen. Go shopping. See what other stores are doing. Get a sense of what you enjoy as a shopper and get a list of what you don’t enjoy. I am not saying go out and copy another store’s image, that won’t do you any good because it won’t be genuine. However, it is important that you know what your competitors are doing so that you can react appropriately. There are great ideas out there in every brick and mortar retail category. Go explore!
In a nutshell. Give your customer’s memorable shopping experiences and they will return with friends. There is no silver bullet or magic recipe for making this happen. Offering quality products/services served up by staff that is knowledgeable and that cares about the customer in a comfortable and convenient way is the path to repeat business!