Written by Melinda Emerson | Posted on Small Business Trends | Oct 11, 2017
If you’re looking for repeat business as a retail company, one of the areas you absolutely need to focus on is customer experience. How a customer feels — not only when she is in your store, but also when she interacts with your brand online or after the sale— will determine whether or not she will buy from you in the future. It’s worth your attention to ensure that her experience is a positive one that is memorable.
Tips for Improving Retail Customer Experience
Start with an Audit
You might assume that every customer experience is a positive one, but without feedback, you can’t know for sure. Send secret shoppers into your store, and ask them to report back on their experiences with:
- The layout of the store
- Their ability to find what they needed
- The friendliness and helpfulness of sales associates
- The speed and ease of the checkout process
If you only operate as an ecommerce business, you can apply this same principle by asking a handful of people you know to visit your website and make a purchase, providing feedback on similar data points especially if you use a live chat service.
When you get the feedback, see what the issues are. Maybe one sales associate was playing on her phone when the shopper tried to get her attention. Or maybe the online checkout process took far too long and the shopper got frustrated. These are areas you can deal with immediately through training to ensure your customer experience doesn’t send potential customers running in the opposite direction.
Lay Out Products in an Appealing Way
We shop with our eyes, and window displays can drastically increase sales if you arrange them in an appealing manner. Test this out: take products that haven’t been great sellers and arrange them in an eye-catching display. For example, if you have a sunscreen that hasn’t sold well, arrange it on a table covered in sand with a beach ball and sunglasses. This makes shoppers stop to take it all in, and in that time, you have the opportunity to get them interested in the product of focus. If you want to offer a discount as well, you’ll sell even more with your display.
Think About Traffic Flow
Have you ever been to a store where you had to fight to make your way between clothing racks or display shelves? It’s frustrating. And while customers might not even think about it, when they consider where to shop later, they may have already crossed you off the list because they didn’t feel comfortable in your store.
Allow for plenty of room between racks or shelves. Shoppers should be able to walk by without knocking anything over or bumping into another customer. Don’t make shelves higher than they can reach, either. Sometimes, less is more when it comes to design.
Talk to Your Staff
If you have employees, you must impart how critical it is to make every shopper feel welcome. Sometimes when you hire inexperienced workers at minimum wage, you don’t get workers who feel they owe you anything more than showing up and checking people out. So start in the interview process. Look for people who genuinely seem enthusiastic about helping people and working in retail.
Continually stress the importance of greeting customers when they walk in and offering to help them if they need it. Again, an occasional spot check with a secret shopper can keep you informed as to whether your employees are doing their jobs correctly.
Sometimes the best place to find out what the typical customer experience is, is Yelp. People tend to leave reviews if either they were over the moon with their experience or terribly dissatisfied. Either way, this is valuable feedback.
Keep track of new reviews and always to all reviews, especially if they’re negative. You need to find a way to rectify a bad customer experience so that if a person changes his mind about your brand, maybe he will agree to update the Yelp review to response. Also use this feedback as the opportunity to make changes in your retail business for the better.
Consider How to Make Your Customer Experience Even Better
There are a million small touches you can provide that will enhance a shopper’s experience. You could light cookie-scented candles in your store to provide a homey feel, or offer shoppers a bottle of water (or even wine!). Give the kiddos lollipops and the pups dog treats. Even a genuine smile can go a long way toward making people want to come back and shop with you again.
It’s not that difficult to make an initial sale. Much harder, though, is getting customers to come back and buy from you again and again. It starts by ensuring that the experience they have with your brand, both instore and online is an enjoyable and memorable one.
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