A customer would usually visit a shop because they have a need and are seeking an opportunity to satisfy that need, or perhaps they are seeking for a solution to a need. There is however a group of shop visitors who would normally enter a neatly merchandised outlet to window shop or to have a feel of items on display. Even with that group, some would be prompted to purchase an item because of a positive experience they encounter when they are in the shop. A retail outlet should not be comfortable with a mere increase in its footfall; the goal of retailers should be to convert such footfall into sales.
How responsive is your shop to the needs of your store visitors? Here are 6 things every customer looks out for when they enter your shop. They may not always be obvious, but subconsciously they remain the make or break pointers for converting footfalls into sales.
1. Cleanliness & Properly Merchandised Stock
How well are you able to maintain the exterior and interior look of your shop to appropriate standards? Is your stock clearly displayed and attractively merchandised? Is the shop well lighted with a good ambience?
Every customer, no matter their background or character trait appreciates a tidy shop with a neatly merchandised stock. An untidy outlet would be a complete put off and rather send exit signals to most customers. A customer may initially patronize from an untidy shop because they may have entered already, but would normally not return for any repeat purchases because of the unpleasant experience. To counter the negative impact of lost sales, and to offer a positive experience to visitors, customers should not be made to encounter situations such as dusty shelves and merchandise, dirty shop floors, unpleasant smells, liquid spillages, etc.
Retailers should constantly maintain a neat exterior and interior shop and ensure stock is neatly and attractively merchandised on clean shelves, as a means to win over every visitor who enters the shop.
2. Availability of Products
Every store operates to meet particular needs of customers and hence would have the product lines on offer to meet such needs. A Pastry shop would be sending poor signals to its existing & prospective customers if they always come to meet the bread counter empty. Similarly, customers would be disappointed to visit a grocery store and find their soft drinks and toiletries shelves constantly empty or probably displaying scanty items.
For whatever your store promises to offer, please ensure you constantly make it readily available to every visitor to the shop. Your wide array of stock on display offers a broader choice to customers. This appeals more to store visitors and will definitely convert a chunk of them into loyal customers.
3. Reception of Shop Attendants
People desire to feel wanted and welcome wherever they go to, and the retail outlet they visit even for a simple loaf of bread is not any different. The mere absence of a modest greeting or smile from your shop attendants, and worst of all, a show of disrespect from a shop attendant could send some of your potential customers running. Rippling effects may occur in such situations, creating loss of significant numbers of customers, should the one customer “report” such a negative experience to friends or relatives. Irrespective of how neat, tidy and well merchandised your shop appears, customers do not only want to see shop attendants visible in the shop but rather attendants who offer a positive reception and are readily available to assist. I’ve personally visited shops and walked through aisles for items i need, only to see shop attendants in small clicks, engaged in their own discussions and totally oblivious of the customers who are obviously the reason why they are placed on the shop floor.
Customers would usually look out for a warm reception, at least a genuine smile and greeting or acknowledgment from a shop attendant or a cashier. This sends a positive signal and tells the customer to call again.
4. Readily available information & Assistance
Information is vital to every facet of life for decision making. Likewise a customer who enters your shop would look out for information to make informed decisions on planned purchases. Customers require vital information such as product prices, and a shop would usually fall short of meeting customer expectations when price tags are missing from SKUs on shelves. The onus should not be on the customer to enquire on prices from shop attendants or carry items to the checkout for price confirmation from cashiers.
Additionally, customers may require assistance in the form of basic information on the functionality of products, various assortments in categories, where certain products can be located on the shop floor, shop opening and closing times, etc. Shop floor attendants should be adequately knowledgeable and available to relay such vital information to customers when required.
Retailers would not fail their shop visitors if they provide at least the basic necessary information of the product to convert the visitors to loyal customers.
5. Ease of Navigating in Store
How easy is it for customers to move around in your store? Have you provided enough and clear signage to guide and direct visitors on products display? Is it easy for customers to locate the merchandise in the store?
Retailers should be guided by the above nuggets and maintain a store layout that supports easy navigation for visitors to identify what they need. Remember, you don’t need a large area to create space for shoppers; a small shop can create an adequate shopping space with a good store layout.
6. Timeliness of Service
Directly linked to the point above, customers’ desire that they don’t spend significant amount of time walking through aisles for items they need. Time and Tide they say, waits for no man. The value of time is mostly unappreciated in part of the world but for the retailer who is seeking to make a positive impression on store visitors, timeliness of service should be essential. Timeliness relates to total amount of time spent on the parking lot of your outlet, time used on the shop floor, waiting time at the check-out or at the enquiries desk, etc. Customers are put off if they have to endure a cumbersome check-out process in a bid to pay for items due to apathy of some staff and undue delays to service. You may never see some of these customers again if this happens.
Retailers should take a cue from the above points and ensure they send positive signals to every individual store visitor. Today’s visitor could turn out to be tomorrow’s loyal customer, if the experience is positive.
About the Author
Amma is a Lead Consultant and trainer with M-DoZ Consulting. Kindly contact her on 0201196080 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information or contribution.