Understanding shoppers and how they think is our specialty. We stalk customers, watching and listening and asking questions to discover what motivates someone to choose a particular store. We study retailers, too – what they do well and where they slip up. Our goal is to look for ways retailers can improve their stores and entice customers to shop with them. We’ve met retailers who manage to thrive even in tough economies; retailers who fall and have a hard time getting back up; and retailers who just don’t care what customers think. Yes, they exist, even in among the ranks of independents.
One of our on-going goals is to discover what makes customers choose one store over another. Here is some of what we typically find:
1. “I live in the Midwest, who cares what’s trending in California?”
There’s a lot to be said for regional merchandising. If your store is on the East Coast then your customer’s tastes are going to be different from those on the West Coast. Case in point: You probably won’t find too many businessmen wearing rep ties in LA, they usually opt for something less traditional. Look at what customers wear while shopping; catalog the colors and textures. Visit model homes and go on house tours to keep up to speed on the tastes of your area. Watch local TV shows and read area magazines. Spend time with designers, realtors, interior decorators, and customers. Why not set up an Advisory Board with members from each group?
Your Advisory Board will help you improve service and sales by making it easy for customers to choose your store. Start with four to six members, meet quarterly outside the store at an independently owned restaurant (indy’s have to support one another!), and set an agenda loaded with open-ended questions.
2. “Make it real.”
WYSIWYG stands for “What you see is what you get”; it’s what customers like to see in store displays. We live in an information rich society where customers can peruse ideas for what you sell in magazines, on the web, social media sites, and on the hundreds of television shows that are design/décor specific. In-store, lifestyle displays will do the trick.
Lifestyle displays show product in ways it might actually be used. Drape a quilt over a chair, cover a couch, set up a bedroom on the sales floor. Add little details like rugs and accent lighting. Lifestyle displays encourage customers to interact with the product because they make it easy for customers to visualize what the product/fabric will look like in their own homes. Given all the shopping choices customers have today, why not give them the ultimate WYSIWYG experience in your store?
(Street Savvy™ Display Tip: When you see your product featured in a magazine, tear off the cover and put it in a plexi-glass sign holder. Add the words “As seen in” and the title of the magazine, i.e. “As seen in Better Homes and Gardens Magazine” and place it in your lifestyle display. You’ll gain instant credibility.)
In addition to lifestyle displays, spice up the choice of impulse items offered at the cash wrap. Change your Speed Bump displays (the first displays of product shoppers see as they enter your store) at least once a week, and add clip-strips throughout your store wherever they make sense to encourage add-on sales.
3. “I want to work one-on-one with a true professional”
Shoppers prefer to work with people who are professional, creative and fully understand the product that they sell. Typical customer comments we hear include:
q “I spent a lot of time educating the salesperson on my ideas and needs. Time is important to me. I don’t want to re-educate someone new each time I go in there.”
q “I like stores with idea centers – a comfy place with a library of magazines, scrapbooks with photos of what others have made, and maybe even DVDs I can watch at my leisure.”
q “Stores that provide something for my kids to do really help me out.” One of our favorite means for occupying children while mom shops came from a retailer who offers her customer with kids “Magic Carpet Kits”.
Magic Carpets Kits include a 3’X5’ rug and an assortment of too-big-to-swallow toys, coloring books, and crayons. Mom can grab a Magic Carpet Kit and place it on the floor next to whatever product she is perusing. The kits are portable so the kids can easily move with mommy throughout the store – this places the care of the child squarely in the hands of the customer.
q “I need a comfortable place to ‘park’ my spouse.” “If my husband and kids aren’t bugging me with, ‘Can we go now?!’ every five minutes, I can stay longer and make my choices in peace.”
4. Check out your store as a customer and compare it to your competition
Walt Disney knew that if Disneyland appealed to children – his core customers – it would be a success. He was absolutely right; that’s why we constantly look at stores from the customers’ point of view. You should too.
Here is an excellent exercise for you to do: Take a close look at your store and how it’s perceived by your customers and your community. Watch how customers enter the front door: take a hard look at what they see first. What captures their attention? What stops them in their tracks? What’s in their way? Make a list of these things and then continue onto your sales floor. Shop every nook and cranny like a typical customer. Is the experience easy? Did you have fun? If it isn’t then tweak it until it is.
With the same criteria in mind, head out to your competitors’ stores. Note everything you feel, see and sense. When you return to your own store, stop at your front door and look around. If changes need to be made, make them now.
Get a Gmail or Yahoo or e-mail account and get on all of your competition’s mailing lists. Sign up for their e-mail blasts, newsletters, and visit them regularly on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. You’ll learn about their new programs and special events at the same time as customers. You’ll be able to react more quickly when you need to.
5. “Will you still love me tomorrow?”
Keep customers close after the sale. Call to see how the project is going, send e-mails with tips to make the job easier. Ask them to tell you about the things they love to create; the projects they just have to do; let them know your job is to help keep them quilting and creating. Our “Someday, I’d Love To…” form will help you get started. Drop us an e-mail for your easy-to-customize template.
The bottom line: Talk with your customers and listen to what they tell you. Watch how they navigate your sales floor. When you uncover areas that need improvement, make those improvements ASAP. Be willing to do just a little more than your competition is willing to do and your store will be the place customers will want to return to again and again.
COPYRIGHT KIZER & BENDER . ALL RIGHTS RESERVED