This is a retail strategy post with many items for smaller retailers as well as some for larger retailers...
I had just finished one of my innovation boot camps. The audience was pumped and ready to do better. One retailer came up to me sheepishly and asked me, “Honestly, how do I do this?”
He continued, “Our customers love us.”
“You’re probably right. They probably did. Once.”
And that is true for so many. Maybe for you right now.
Just because people were satisfied when they came to your shop for one item awhile ago doesn’t mean they will now drive past your new competitors to return to your store and figuratively take a time machine backward to old lighting, old merchandise, and old thinking.
Look around at the retail brands in the gutter.
When was the last time you shopped at one of them?
Could your reluctance to shopping there give you clues for improving your own retail store? I’m sure it does.
Retail exists to answer only one question from a shopper, “What’s new?”
And new is not just your merchandise, but also your visual merchandising, your signage, your creativity, your employees, and definitely your attitude.
If you’re still treating your customers like...
“Can I help you?”
“Yes, I’m looking for ...”
“They’re right over there…”
You might as well close your doors like Radio Shack, like Payless, like Rue 21.
Customers come into a store to spend their money and feel better about themselves.
To see people who feel better about themselves.
To discover new things.
To succeed in this punishing time, you have to go beyond being involved in your business and commit to mastery of five strategies.
5 retail strategies retailers must commit to in order to attract, convert, and retain customers:
To attract potential customers to your store
A compelling website. Of course a website is a must for any business, but it isn’t something you can set and forget. Links get broken, wording goes out of date, and shoppers have new demands. Unless you think like a 2020 shopper, your website will often be too me oriented and not enough how I can help you oriented.
To do: Perform a website analysis. One of my favorites is the Website Grader from Hubspot.
Once shoppers are in your store
Hold purposeful events. It’s not hard to invite people to a party with free food, free entertainment, and free giveaways. To make them effective though you have to capture new leads, sell them on why you’re a good place to shop, sell them on something to buy while they are there, and follow up again and again.
To do: When planning your next event, create a compelling 2-minute show-and-tell about one item. Also strategize a way to capture attendees’ information. Deliver your show-and-tell at the start of your event.
Train employees. It’s easy to hire a body to come to work, but that doesn’t mean they’ll help you grow your sales. You have to train employees how to serve another human being. It’s much more than Can I help you? And training never ends no matter how long they’ve been with you.
To do: Get retail sales training. Seriously. You have no excuse - you’re on the #1 retail website on the planet already. Click here for Online Training.
To grow your business
Add a location. Just because you’re bored with your current location doesn’t mean there is demand for a new one. The great test of any business is adding a second store location. You must have systems in place so both locations can run autonomously.
To do: If you think the market is there for another retail business, research the demographics and traffic patterns. Then, don't answer any employee questions for one full day and see how your store operates without you. Use that time to evaluate what procedures and strategies you'll need if you indeed open another place of business.
Assess social media. It’s easy to have a Facebook or Instagram account for your business - after all, it’s free. You have to have a strategy of why you’re doing it, how you’ll follow it, and the metrics around your marketing plan results. And by the way, thumbs up or likes are not measurable results.
To do: Look at your past five social media posts. What action did you want your followers to take? Did you want them to visit your website, click a blog, or visit your store? If those actions were missing, add them to your next five posts.
Your customers have to know exactly how they will use something before they ever purchase it, but many business owners buy or have things without knowing why or what it takes to leverage it. They're involved but not committed.
Here are three questions to help you overcome that:
- Do you know why you are doing this?
- What is the business goal to be achieved?
- How will you know if it is successful?
It’s easy to have a website rather than have a great website, or to fill a hole in the schedule with a warm body rather than with an excellent employee, but that’s only the beginning.
In the same way, it's easy for you to pay your employees to travel to a trade show and pick out product, but it is more important to pay for those employees to be trained to be able to move those items at a profit.
You need to commit to mastery on these retail strategies or you’ll be hopelessly looking around for answers or making yourself feel better by blaming online retailers, Amazon, or the economy.
When all it would take is your commitment.