Retailers are always fighting some invisible challenge. Whether it’s a shift in customer behavior, the convenience offered by online retailers like Amazon, or even a pandemic, challenges never cease. If retailers are going to thrive, they need to be able to adapt quickly and stay focused on their customers.
If you are a retail shop owner, we want you to know that we see you! We recognize that your business may be struggling, and we want to help you brainstorm some ideas that may help. In this post, we’ll share five tips to help you adapt your business and stay focused on your customers.
But first, let’s talk about the current shift in customer behavior.
Table of Contents
- Customer Behavior
- Five Tips for a Customer-Focused Retail Experience
Recognize the Shift in Customer Behavior
The atmosphere at your local shopping mall or outlet plaza is very different now than it was at the beginning of 2020. Most retailers are reducing their hours and adhering to strict health and safety regulations, but that’s not all. The biggest difference from six months ago is customer traffic. There are far less people in malls and stores than we’re used to.
This is because of a big shift in customer behavior. Before COVID-19, many people enjoyed dropping in to their favorite stores anytime they were out and about. Today, however, most people are likely to keep the behaviors they adopted during stay-at-home orders and other public health mandates set by their local government. This means that many people will be less inclined to visit your retail store, unless they have a specific need or made a plan to shop with you.
Not to mention, most customers will want to know that you are complying with current health and safety regulations. Depending on your location, these may include wearing masks, encouraging social distancing, and controlling the number of people in you store at one time.
In short, your customers are now shopping more cautiously and deliberately. It’s up to you to adapt to these behaviors for the success of your business and the comfort of your customers. Next, we’ll share five ideas to help you do that.
Five Tips for a Customer-Focused Retail Experience
Here are five things you can try to assure customers that their health and safety is your top priority.
1. Offer Product Deals and Bundles
With heightened health risks swirling across the United States, most people will want to spend as little time as possible in public places and especially in stores. This means that you’ll have even less time than usual to upsell in your store. However, with a little forward-thinking you can still practice this important selling technique, perhaps without saying a word.
Create pre-packaged and priced bundles of frequently-purchased or related products.
For example, let’s say you run a small outdoor sporting goods store. You’ve noticed that traffic is understandably lighter, but the customers who do come in are most interested in purchasing yard games. You could create an “Ultimate Backyard Summer” bundle and include your most popular yard games, hats, sunblock, etc. Once you’ve decided on the items you want to include in your bundle and assigned a price, move these bundles to the front of your store with an eye-catching sign advertising them. This will help your customers get exactly what they need (and more!) quickly, check out, and be out of the store in just a few minutes.
2. Create a Safe Space for Your Employees and Customers
As a retail business, there are specific public health and safety regulations you are required to follow at this time. These vary depending on your state and should be available on your state health department’s website. (Click here to read sector-specific requirements for the state of Ohio.)
To create a safe space for your customers, you must take these requirements seriously. Don’t be afraid to take extra time to sanitize credit card machines between customers, ask customers to follow a certain path throughout the store, or step away for a moment to wash your hands.
While you’re focused on keeping a clean, safe space, take some time to rethink other usual practices.
For example, if you usually provide bags to for convenient shopping, try handing your customers the bag they will receive upon checkout instead. This allows them to still easily carry products around your store, but eliminates the risk associated with carrying a bag that countless other people have carried. Small changes like this will go a long way in the eyes of your customers.
3. Offer Curbside or In-Store Pickup
You may have already been offering this as an option to your customers. Don’t stop now!
As we mentioned before, customers want to spend as little time in your store as possible. Offering them an option to make a purchase online or over the phone and pick it up in your store is one of the best ways to accommodate this desire.
If you are offering these options, be sure to let your customers know. Post it on your website, social media pages, and in your store window.
4. Optimize Displays to Reduce Contact
One of the best ways to limit the spread of any illness is to reduce contact with others and avoid frequently-touched surfaces. This can be very difficult for customers shopping in your store, especially if you’re working with a small amount of space.
Consider changing up your store displays to reduce the amount of things your customers touch.
For example, let’s say you run a clothing and jewelry boutique. Typically, your customers would rifle through racks of clothing, touching every tag to find their size. To limit this contact, you could put one item out with a sign that reads “see associate for your size”. Or, consider adding more racks to hang clothing clearly marked by size. Customers in your boutique may also spin displays of earrings to find their perfect pair. To reduce this contact, consider laying the earrings out flat on a table or hanging them on a vertical wall display.
By reducing even these small touch points, you can improve the experience for wary customers in your store.
5. Move Your Store Online
Are you equipped to accept orders online? Even before the pandemic, most people enjoyed the convenience of shopping online. It is hard to compete with big retailers like Amazon and Walmart in this space. However, if you have a loyal customer base who wants to support you through these difficult times, an online store is a great investment.
Electronic Merchant Systems can help you easily “bolt on” an eCommerce store to your existing website. Our online store solution combines a robust shopping cart with an integrated credit card payment gateway. This is an extremely feature-rich solution with support for many payment and shipping options, full inventory control, promotional tools, and many other eCommerce selling features.
Whether you need to establish your web presence, add a store to your existing website, or even enable payments for an existing online store, we have the tools to assist you. Click here to learn more or contact us today!
As you move forward in your retail store, remember to think creatively. How can you create a safe space for your customers? What can you do to cater to new behaviors? How can you support your staff during this time? All of these questions and more will help you critically think about the entire experience you provide and discover ways to focus on both people and profit.
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Source: Harvard Business Review