6 Simple Ways To Improve Retail Customer Experiences
Contributed by Rachel Craig, Head of Content for Rapid Formations Limited.
A successful business relies on sales. This is something we all know for sure. There are many ways to entice and encourage people to visit your retail store, but one of the most crucial ways to ensure regular custom, encourage sales and increase brand loyalty is to provide an exceptional shopping experience for each and every person who walks through your door.
Chances are, the products or services you offer can be found in a multitude of other stores, both brick-and-mortar and online. Very few businesses offer entirely unique goods these days. To overcome this potential hurdle and acquire a valuable competitive advantage, you can implement these 6 simple strategies to create a unique shopping experience that is second to none.
- Friendly customer service
This tactic should be a given, yet we all encounter terrible customer service on a regular basis. Personally, I’ve stopped frequenting a number of stores that I love, simply as a result of unfriendly staff (and owners on occasion!). When someone walks through the door, the immediate response from staff members should be a welcoming smile and a genuinely warm greeting. Depending on the setting, you may wish to introduce yourself and exchange some pleasantries.
If you’re occupied on the telephone or dealing with a customer when someone new enters your store, at least take a brief moment to acknowledge their presence and greet them a friendly manner. Never ignore them because you’re ‘too busy’. As soon as you’re able, approach them and offer assistance, but don’t be pushy. He or she may wish to be left alone to browse, but it’s important that they have the opportunity to accept or decline assistance.
Upon leaving the store, regardless of whether a purchase has been made, be sure to genuinely thank the customer and wish them well. These small gestures can really make all the difference to someone’s mood and impression of your business. They may leave empty handed, but they are more likely to return and speak positively to others if they enjoyed their time in your store.
- Store temperature
The temperature of your store should be based on what’s comfortable for your patrons, not just employees. If it’s warm outside, don’t blast the A/C to arctic degrees – your customers are most likely dressed for hot weather and will soon become uncomfortably chilly. If it’s cold out, refrain from turning your store into a sauna. The more comfortable it is to be inside your shop, the longer your customers are likely to stay and enjoy their experience.
- Product packaging
Eliminating excess packaging is incredibly important, but it doesn’t mean you have to skimp on the presentation of customer purchases. You can still provide beautifully packaged goods that enhances customer experience whilst being mindful of the environment. Less is more, and there are plenty of packaging options produced from recycled and/or eco-friendly materials.
No matter how small the purchase, you should consider wrapping the item(s) in tissue paper (where applicable) and placing inside a branded paper or cotton carrier bag. Every visit to your store should feel like a treat. It’s also a lovely touch to offer gift wrapping if you know the item is intended for someone else. Consider using branded stickers to seal the package, or include a small business card inside to promote your store to the recipient of the gift.
- Delivery assistance
Where feasible, it’s a lovely gesture to help carry your customers’ purchases to their car. This a great way to build rapport and show your appreciation. A home delivery service is also a valuable and much-appreciated option to offer. If your store is located in a small town and the customer resides nearby, consider offering home delivery as a complimentary service. In other situations, you may have to charge a fee, but it’s still a valuable option that could increase sales – for example, if the customer is just passing through and is unable to take the desired item with them at that time.
- In-store refreshments
It’s such a great treat to wander into a store and be met with the offer of a delicious refreshment, don’t you think? On a warm day, the presentation of a cool glass of home-made lemonade or iced tea (maybe skip the Long Island aspect) is so appreciated. During the fall or in the midst of winter, a tasty cranberry apple punch or hot chocolate (and maybe a cookie, too) can really lift the spirits.
As we enter the autumnal season, with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon, it’s the perfect time to implement this strategy. By sharing a drink with your patrons, you are encouraging them to relax, stay for longer and really enjoy their time in the store. This is a really effective way to get to know your customers and create a lasting, positive experience. What’s more, the nostalgic scent of a warm, spiced brew will no doubt elicit a favourable emotional response which could lead to more sales.
We all appreciate honesty (within reason). In retail, it’s important to individually gauge each customer to determine the most appropriate products for their needs. If they ask for your opinion or assistance with a purchase, don’t simply lie to encourage sales. This can backfire and lead to returns or an unhappy experience. Your aim should be to build trust, so don’t be deceitful just to make a quick sale.
If you think an item is unsuitable, tell the customer why and suggest something more appropriate. If you genuinely believe a certain product is just what they need, compliment them on their choice, explain your reasoning and perhaps suggest other items that would appeal to them. The customer will feel reassured by your honesty and be confident in their purchase decision, both at the time of purchase and after leaving the store.
Contributed by Rachel Craig, Head of Content for Rapid Formations Limited – the UK’s #1 company formation agency. An expert in her field, Rachel provides in-depth guidance and advice on corporate compliance, workplace productivity and customer service. Prior to joining Rapid Formations in 2013, Rachel worked in research and customer service after obtaining a BA Marketing and an MA History of Art from the University of Glasgow. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, painting and spending time with her partner and their two untrainable dogs.