There are a lot fewer brick-and-mortar retail stores these days, and owning or running one has gotten more complicated. You are no longer just competing against similar stores in your geographical area. You are also competing against massive multinational corporations that can offer very competitive prices and convenience.
One of the best things you can do to compete is to provide your customers with a superior in-store experience. By making your brick-and-mortar space inviting for your customers, you can build a loyal customer base that will help you succeed despite all of the competition you face. Here are some things you can do.
Your uniqueness is a sure-fire way to stand out. Look at what your shoppers experience when they visit your store. Examine every aspect, and come up with ways to make it more engaging in an original way. It might be how you display your products, or what your staff are trained to say, or even the colors on the wall. Make it interesting and make it stand out from everyone else. When shoppers enter and leave your store, you want your store to feel like an experience they can’t find anywhere else.
Make Online and Offline Shopping Seamless
Even if you operate a brick-and-mortar store, you should also have an online shopping option. Your eCommerce website should work seamlessly with your location. Consumers now want to be able to do as much as possible at home, and your website should reflect that. Your inventories need to be up to date, so if a shopper sees that you have something in stock, they can come and buy it without fear that it will be gone. Understanding omnichannel retail means being everything to everyone. You can offer online options, but also a superior pickup and in-store experience too.
Beautify Your Store
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. You also don’t get more chances to make 2nd, 3rd, and 4th impressions. Your store should be consistently clean and attractive to anyone who visits. Your products should be clearly displayed, whether they are on racks, shelves, hangers, or even decorative lighted display pedestals. Create a store design and aesthetic that works with your brand and is pleasing to the eye. If your store is unattractive, it will make your brand look unattractive to shoppers, and they will be less inclined to shop with you.
Friendly and Informed Staff
So much of what we do is automated. We can buy things without interacting with a human being, we can book appointments, even respond to text and emails with canned answers. When customers go to a physical location to shop, they’re looking for human interaction, and you need to provide them with a quality experience every time.
Make sure that you and your staff undergo comprehensive customer service training. They should always be friendly and inviting. Not only that, but they need to have information at their fingertips to answer questions and provide accurate and timely information. Building trust with your customers is also about showing them the human side of your brand. You should be treating every customer like a friend who you really want to help. Building trust will help develop loyal customers who will keep coming back.
The Need for Speed
We live in a society that expects immediacy. We get our news as soon as it happens, we can write letters to people across the globe and get responses within minutes. Your store needs to embrace this reality. Not only should your staff be able to offer immediate assistance, but you should also maximize everything in your operation for speed.
The customer should be able to come in, get what they need, and leave as quickly as possible. Find ways to eliminate lines, such as automatic cashiers or even staff who carry payment consoles with them. Make sure your traffic flow is clean and allows for easy movement. All of these things will allow customers to get in and out quickly and on with their days.
Events and Entertainment
Why not make visiting your store about something more than just buying? You can create an experience that goes beyond the simply transactional ones that customers expect. Bring in live music, or discussion panels, or host special kids’ days.
Bookstores do a great job with this. They bring in authors for signings and having theme days based on popular books. Poetry readings, special product releases, or “famous” local influencers can all help get people in the door to hopefully notice your great products. Be creative, and find something that connects well with your brand and will resonate with your target demographic.
Build a Community
Customers want to feel that they are getting extra value out of their shopping. Otherwise, they can just get everything they need online. You can build a community by offering workshops and classes and providing your customers with extra incentives to shop at your store and use your products. Art supply stores can have paint nights, hardware stores can have tutorials and Q&A sessions. Adding this value will give your customers a reason to shop with you, and it will allow you to build a stronger connection with them.
Your in-store experience has never been more important. With so much competition, you need to help your store stand out in a crowd. Try out these tips to keep customers coming back for more.