What can Donna Vinci do for you today? Hello from all of us here at Donna Vinci and welcome to our new and improved monthly newsletter! Hope you are having a prosperous Spring/Summer season!
We at Donna Vinci are having an amazing Spring 2013 and we want to share a couple things with you to ensure that you and your boutique can be as prosperous as possible!
In a survey last year, the Huffington Post reported that 84% of respondents couldn't go a day without checking their cell phone, and that mobile usage is increasingly impacting the purchasing decision, from researching products, to checking prices, to buying online. While providing excellent customer service and a great in-store experience may be nothing new, retail small business owners should focus on elevating those experiences in order to keep customers shopping at their physical locations.
Are Some Customers Browsing In Store and Purchasing Online?
Shoppers are more educated about products than ever before. While the "showrooming" trend - where consumers visit retailers to look at the goods in person and then buy them online - is expected to increase in 2013, there are methods retailers can take to help educate consumers and keep purchases in-store.
Michael Fox, president of M&M Paper in Van Nuys, California, believes that one-on-one customer interactions and outstanding sales service are important strategies to help combat the "showrooming" trend. "Human interaction will always prevail over ordering online," he says. Regardless of an employee's position, Fox makes sure they are all trained as salespeople. Fox recommends employees remind customers of some of the drawbacks of online shopping, such as shipping fees or long distance returns.
Dan Marshall, co-owner of Peapods Natural Toys in St. Paul, Minnesota sells one-of-a-kind items that consumers most likely won't be able to find online. In doing so, he believes he has created a retail destination that allows customers to discover items they may not have known about. "You have to show that the service you provide as a locally owned business, from the get-go, is worth 7% more than what you get online," he says. "Because if it isn't, people are just going to order it online for 7% less."
1. Maximize Your Customer Service
By providing excellent customer service and knowledgeable sales staff, you can entice customers to visit your store instead of shopping online. For example, if you sell products about which customers are likely to have questions, such as computers, washing machines or even jewelry, make sure you have plenty of employees on the shop floor ready to answer any question. Take it a step even further by providing sales staff with iPads so they can check out customers on the spot.
Be sure to provide additional value to your customers, whether it is through the products sold or the experience you create in-store. For example, if you sell bicycles, offer free annual servicing for any bicycles purchased from your business. You can take this a step further by encouraging your employees to share personal recommendations, such as a "Staff Picks" table curated by employees with detailed descriptions of why it is recommended.
2. Products Aren't Enough: Customers Want "Shoppertainment"
Shoppers are hungry for an in-store experience that provides them with the not only products they are searching for, but also an environment that is visually stimulating with a top-notch customer service experience. Sarah McNally, owner of New York City-based Mcnally Books, hosts book clubs, readings, and discussions in her store. She believes the key ingredient to creating a successful event experience is focusing on the details. "Running a great community is the accumulation of thousands of little details," says McNally. "I think that's what chain stores are missing."
Such events have been a major initiative of Abby Lazio's independent pharmacy. After seeing success during the holiday season, Lazio designated Fridays as "Fancy Friday," during which time her staff dresses up and customers are treated to a glass of wine and product demonstrations. "People are so appreciative and customers have been spreading the word, which is very powerful," Lazio says. "I'm seeing a lot of new people that I never did before."
Specialty retailers should consider offering classes, workshops and in-store events to engage their customers. You could also team up with other local small businesses. For example, if you sell church suits, invite a local church over for an event of your choosing.
Technology is having a serious impact on the buying experience, but by consistently providing a reason for customers to visit your business and purchase products from you, your business can continue to grow.