3 Tips to Understanding Consumer Purchasing Decisions

Whether it’s the holidays or the middle of June, customers are left in a position that will make or break a sale for you – and it ultimately means them making a decision to buy something or not. This type of control isn’t to be overlooked. Customer have power, let’s face it. To help retailers better understand customers and how they make decisions on what they will ultimately purchase or not, let’s consider the following.

Research has shown that consumer behavior begins well before a customer walks into a store. Most customers identify they either NEED or WANT something, then determine they need to make a purchase to get this. Often, this isn’t a necessity and many times, customers don’t even know exactly what they want. It could simply be that someone wants to shop, enjoying the experience they gain while doing this. But remember… shopping isn’t buying. Those are two different things. So just what makes someone make a purchase versus just look around?

1. Outside Influences: It’s amazing how the media, friends, neighbors, co-workers and other influencers all leave impressions on people. Consumers make decisions all the time based on what they think others will think, as well as what they may have seen, experienced or enjoyed from these outside influencers. In your own store, how can you bring this to life for your customers?Engage your customers in conversation to try and identify what may be influencing them to shop. Is it an upcoming party at a friends house? A recent event that they need to buy something for?  Maybe a popular celebrity or local activity taking place? The key here is to communicate with your customers to better understand what is motivating them to shop or be persuaded by.

2. Hands On Experiences: There is a reason Costco offers product samples daily… people like it, and it increases sales on the products they sample. While you may not be Costco, how can this concept work for your store? Consider demonstrating product, sampling product and letting customers engage with product. Clothing and accessories naturally fall into this category, but for other retail sectors you have to get more creative. The power of all your senses – sight, scent, sound, smell and taste – can play a part in this. As the seasons change and your inventory change, remember to mix things up to keep things interesting for returning customers.

3. Competition: They say competition is healthy, so let’s go with that. Assuming you have some local competition and trusting you have online competition, how can you stand out among this crowded party? Strive to be the best in customer service, store experience and inventory options. Accept other store strengths, but also work hard to deserve your place in your marketplace to be a leader. The strong survive – not just the best looking and best location based stores. Trust us, that is not all that matters (though it sure does help).

Finally, never stop learning from you customers. Listen to what they are asking for. See what they are wearing and what other store bags they may be carrying. Communicate with them about their total lifestyle and interests. Engage in conversation, then engage in your own store to make changes when you see trends in your local consumer marketplace taking place. Being the boss is a constant juggle among many job descriptions – but among the most important is always identifying what your customer needs from you.

Photo Credit: Store “SHE” in Pennsylvania




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