We are living in a digital age. Fears and uncertainty around the online world are being left behind as we embrace digital technology in most aspects of our day-to-day lives. Need a taxi? Order an Uber through your phone app. Need to stock up on books and supplies before heading on holiday? Amazon has it all.
Shopping with apps and ecommerce has become sophisticated and seamless. As a result, ecommerce sales are continuing to grow in popularity, while it’s becoming harder to gain foot traffic in brick & mortar stores. So how can you attract customers back to your shop?
Today, your customer has the convenience of researching various tee shirt options before they buy and having them delivered to their doorstep the same day. But if done correctly, your unique in-store experience can still motivate them to leave the comfort of their home.
Consumers are extremely savvy, and when it comes to purchasing they want more than just a quality product. They want to feel that the item they bought is special to them, and this comes through having a personalized and memorable experience.
If your customer loved their visit to your store, they will share that experience with others. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to refer new business, and with consumers sharing their experiences on social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, the phenomenal service they receive could instantly reach not only their followers, but also new potential customers.
So how exactly can you create a unique experience without breaking the bank?
1. Befriend your customer.
Go back to basics and remember how important it is to greet your customer when they enter your store. Think about how you would greet your friend, or, better yet, what kind of greeting represents your brand? For instance, you wouldn’t walk into a surfer or skate brand store and expect to hear a formal welcome. You might hear a laid back, “Hey, how’s it goin’?”
The customer walked into your store for a reason, so you or your staff need to figure out what they are looking for. Give them a moment to browse and observe the items, then, talk to them about your products and ask openended questions. “I love that dress, did you know that print was made from a copy of a photograph? Are you attending a special occasion or just gaining inspiration?” Don’t forget to introduce yourself, and give them your name. “Oh and by the way I’m Jess, I can help you find what you’re looking for.”
As you get to know your customer and understand his or her needs, you will start to build a relationship. You want your customer to feel like they can trust you, the way they would trust their friends. Think of the relationship that you and your best friends might have. You trust them to tell you when something is a bad idea. You want your customer to trust you in the same way.
2. Make your customers feel at home. Did someone say drinks?
Good manners go a long way. If the customer were your friend and you invited them over to your house, would you just have them stand or sit near the door? Unlikely. You would offer them something to drink and make them feel comfortable during their visit to your home.
Luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton are great at welcoming their customers. While you are shopping for a new handbag and their specialist is telling you about all the finer details of the product, they will offer you water, juice or even a glass of champagne. It’s an old trick in the retail book; your customer may feel more comfortable spending a larger sum of money after some in-store hospitality.
3. Bring on the fun facts.
As a store owner, it’s likely you’ve made many decisions for your brand including the layout of the store, design of the products, and the brand values. That means each corner of your store hides a “Did you know…” talking point or a fun fact.
The more your staff know about the product and the “fun facts” about the store they work in, the more knowledge they will have to share with customers. By delivering those golden nuggets about the brand, customers who purchase something will also walk away knowing what they just invested in.
When you reflect on your own boutique, do you think your customer walked away learning something today?
4. Go the extra mile.
Iconic luxury London department store Harrods has a philosophy in which you should never say “no” to a customer. They have outrageous stories such as a customer buying a helicopter and expecting it to be gift wrapped upon delivery. After some heavy researching on their end, they were able to deliver what the customer requested.
Not every customer will buy something as colossal as a helicopter, but just because the service requested hasn’t been delivered before, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. As mentioned before, consumers today are willing to spend on the service and experience they receive. If an item is no longer in stock, could you arrange for another store to help them? Could you order it online? Contact the designer?
No matter how abstract the request of a customer can be, creativity can make the impossible, possible. These sort of gestures help customers feel special and help them to understand that they are truly important to your business.
5. Don’t just close a sale, make their next appointment.
We started our tips with befriending the customer. By the time you close the sale, you should have learned a few things about your customer and they should know a few things about the store or brand.
Ask if you can create a quick profile for them in your loyalty program, offer to contact them if you get any new stock they might like, or simply invite them back. Let them know that this special service isn’t a one-time occasion, but every time they walk through your door they will have someone who will be able to assist with their needs.
It is extremely important that you as a business owner understand who your brand is, what voice your brand has, and who your customer is. You also need to ensure your staff have the same knowledge about the business that you do. It is highly recommended that you engage with your staff before their shift. Maybe have a pop quiz or a quick run through of the latest store arrivals before they start engaging with their future “friends”.
A simple “hello” and adding some quirk to your customer’s day can take your business a long way. Attention to detail in how you create a differentiated experience for every person who walks into your store is a must.
About the author
Jessica Ramirez is a retail, trend and marketing consultant based in New York City. With more than seven years of experience, she is focused on analyzing global trends and generating actionable insights. Most recently she was a trend data journalist at leading online fashion trade publication and trend forecaster WGSN, primarily focusing on trend retail analytics.
About Ashley Gilgrist
Ashley looks after product marketing at Vend — working hard to bring exciting product launches to retailers around the globe. When she’s not busy talking all-things-Vend, Ashley also has a love of tea, candle-crafting, binge-watching, and hiking the pointy peaks of New Zealand.