by Debi Enders
Is your brick-and-mortar business feeling the pinch from online competitors? If so, keep in mind that you offer at least one thing that a 100%-online retailer never can: real, live employees who are able to deliver a personally gratifying experience that can make a customer’s trip worthwhile. So, while your in-person traffic may be down, you now have all the more reason to focus on consumers who take the time to visit your physical location.
How to you do that? Here are some ideas:
Focus on your customers’ experience – Think about the journey your customers take when they walk into your space. What do you want them to feel when they enter? How should your employees engage with customers while they are there? What should your staff members say as customers leave? Turn your sales staff into consultants or even “friends.” By being intentional with the layout of your space and training your staff in how to treat customers, you can create an experience that reflects your brand and makes customers want to return and recommend your business to others.
Use technology to redefine the checkout experience – Long lines are obviously a big turn-off and can result in customers abandoning their purchases. Don’t let this situation affect your bottom line. Always be ready with additional payment-acceptance options. If opening additional registers isn’t feasible, consider adding point-of-sale systems like Clover, which allow you to untether yourself from the traditional checkout process. Rather than getting stuck behind a cash register, you can take the checkout process to your customers and ring up sales from anywhere in the store.
Add services or special events – Look for services or fun experiences you can implement that will set you apart from your online competition. For example, a boutique might partner with a salon for styling or make-over services. You could offer product demonstrations or live entertainment. By combining traditional shopping with a little something extra, your customers will receive a unique experience that cannot be replicated with online shopping. Doing so also shows that you care enough to make their time with you extraordinary.
Whatever you do, your goal is the same: making your business a place where customers can find something they won’t find elsewhere, tangible or intangible. Consider what may keep your customers from making a purchase, and offer a solution to create repeat business.
Debi Enders (email@example.com) is vice president, small business banking at Commerce Bank.