Retailers often think they need a complete overhaul or relocation to rejuvenate their business. However, this isn't always the case. A potential client told me she had moved her store from a high-traffic area downtown to a new development because they gave her a sweetheart deal on rent.
The problem is that her customers did not follow her 20 minutes north to the new development.
For most of you reading this, a fresh start can be achieved through strategic changes without the need for drastic measures like taking down walls.
Much like upgrading your home without replacing anything - as freelance journalist Annie Midori Atherton suggested in her article - you can rejuvenate your retail space with innovative yet straightforward changes.
Here are seven of the most effective ways to upgrade your retail store:
1. Implement a New Point of Sale (POS) System
Retailers hate change. Employees hate change. Yet, change is what is needed most when it comes to POS systems. How can you make checkout easier? How can you connect your Shopify site with your in-store? How much data can you collect and use from your current system? Customers are looking for speed, and retailers should be looking for advanced tracking and payment options. Modernize your checkout process with an advanced POS system. Here are 50 questions to ask before taking the plunge.
Advanced systems enhance customer experience with faster, more efficient transactions and integrate inventory management for real-time stock updates. Add RFID tags, and you'll be shocked at how easily you'll know daily what is moving and what isn't.
2. Revamp with New Display Tables
It doesn't matter whether you sell electronics, apparel, or home goods - styles change, and just because you received a free display from a vendor doesn't mean it belongs on your sales floor. Replace old, worn-out tables with new, stylish ones to showcase merchandise. A series of stepped round tables at various heights works well to stop shoppers and focus their attention on a single item or color.
Long tables that are popular in mass merchants don't belong in specialty stores except for sale goods.
Utilize creative layouts to attract customer attention and improve flow. These modular designs allow flexibility in displaying different products. Natural, eco-friendly elements like wood are on trend.
And if you have multiple vendor displays in the back - chuck them now and free up the space.
3. Refresh with a New Coat of Paint
It sounds simple, but changing one wall from beige to white can make all the difference. Paint is relatively cheap; a professional crew can usually mask and complete it within days. Brighten up your store with fresh, appealing colors. Everything has a shelf life, and while you don't need to use the Pantone color of the year, you can still use paint to create a welcoming atmosphere that reflects your brand.
While shopping, consider eco-friendly paint options for a sustainable approach.
4. Upgrade Store Lighting
Shoppers are attracted to light. Whether a simple string of colored lights across the top of a window or a high-tech set of lights shining out from under your awnings, light gets attention. Inside the store, you can enhance any merchandise's visibility and store ambiance with better lighting.
Your local utility probably has grants for upgrading old fluorescent lighting to new LED ballasts and fixtures. You should still check with an electrician who can see how you can use existing fixtures with energy-efficient LED lights to reduce electricity costs.
Light up the front third of your store so it commands the most attention from a casual passerby.
Think of much smaller areas of interest that can be highlighted from the ceiling rather than the generic wash from the ceiling tiles. Consider the seasonality of different lighting styles to highlight key areas. After all, many stores are dark at 6 pm during winter but have plenty of light during the summer.
5. Invest in Staff Training
Starting from scratch with a new crew with no bad habits already established in your store can be very freeing. But all those new team members can reveal the limits of your training when no one knows the ropes. Moving or not, you can get an engaged crew with the staff you have right now.
Training your crew on product knowledge isn't enough. It is what that product's features can do for a customer. But you can only share that when you first build enough rapport to earn the right to sell the merchandise.
Continuous learning must be integral to any retailer, especially if you want to upgrade your customer experience. People should want to return to your store because they feel they matter, not because you lost money by offering them 30% off with a friend and family deal.
6. Introduce Interactive Technology
It can be daunting, but just getting a Samsung monitor can open a world of creativity through the use of their digital displays . You can create a PowerPoint presentation using videos and Canva graphics and make a fairly sophisticated video for a little money. If you want to soften the edges, consider getting a simple picture frame, adding latex bands to the back, and slipping over the monitor.
If you want to go further, you can offer virtual try-on or augmented reality experiences and interactive kiosks for customer engagement. These can be important go-betweens and help the customer decide to try on a garment rather than wonder and put it back down. Again, you can implement mobile checkout options for shopper convenience as well.
7. Optimize Store Layout
Many stores inherit where their counters are, sometimes in the middle, sometimes on the left, which is best, and sometimes on the right, which can cause bottlenecks as customers try to pay and leave as other shoppers try to get in and purchase. With so many wireless solutions, you don't need to be wed to where the phone lines and ethernet are.
When you reorganize the store layout, you improve customer flow and product visibility. Closing down on a slow day and moving everything out or around gives you a fresh page to create strategic placements to highlight new items in a new area.
We're seeing more baby strollers and wheelchairs in many areas, so ensure your layout is accessible and easy to navigate for all customers. The recommended width of aisles is a minimum of 4 feet.
Brick-and-mortar retail exists to answer a shopper's question, "What's new?" When your store looks the same season after season, year after year, it can make that harder for shoppers to believe.
You can begin small with something like paint and plan out several of the changes I'm presenting here over a year.
By implementing these upgrades, you can significantly enhance the shopping experience in your store, potentially increasing sales and customer satisfaction without the need for moving or major renovations.
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