Everyone knows that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. This holds true in many scenarios, from dates to job interviews. First impressions are equally valuable in the retail industry, where the customer experience you create right off the bat can determine if shoppers ultimately purchase merchandise.
Consider what impression your staff and store displays make on patrons and learn how to make effective improvements.
It often seems like sales associates are either too aggressive or insultingly apathetic to shoppers. It goes without saying that you should strive to train employees to strike a balance between the two attitudes.
“Make customers feel welcome and wanted.”
When customers walk in the door, it’s likely they don’t want to be jumped on immediately. It’s best to allow them to get their bearings and check out what the store has to offer. Once patrons look ready to peruse, employees should greet them. Rather than a noncommittal “hello” or a question that prompts an automatic response such as “how are you?” have staff introduce themselves to shoppers. Sales associates can offer to help customers find an item, then let the guests know that they’ll be around to answer any questions. The goal is to make customers feel welcome and wanted, but not too on the spot.
It’s important that patrons don’t feel smothered by your employees. Staff shouldn’t follow them around and continue offering assistance once the shopper declines. That being said, ensure an employee is visible on the floor at all times to address customer needs as they arise. Customers should know that they’re entitled to your team’s undivided attention, but aren’t required to interact with them.
Consider how your greeters and customer-facing employees affect your brand and its reputation. A negative experience is more likely to elicit word-of-mouth reviews, especially online through websites such as Yelp! and Google. Don’t assign an employee who’s clearly having a bad day to the greeting position because it’s easy to sense when a cheerful voice is forced. Staff should make eye contact when they smile at customers and give off the impression that they’re helpful.
While your employees on the sales floor have a large impact on how customers, especially those new to your establishment, feel about the experience, your store’s appearance is also key.
The first aspect to consider is the quality of your store fixtures. Although traditional pieces get the job done, you can add a hint of unique style with more interesting options. Consider swapping out the plain tables you have near the front entrance with Hanson Square Tables, which channel the shabby-chic interior design trend. For clothing retailers, check out forms that bring dimension to your displays. Mannequins are attractive forms to use for a positive first impression.
Next, brainstorm which products should be prominently displayed. According to Retailer Now Mag, the first 1,000 square feet of your store can help customers decide whether they want to browse within 7 seconds. Dress your forms in the season’s most popular fashion clothes and accessories, as well as merchandise that prompts shoppers to look closer. For example, gadgets that patrons can play with or items that have options for different designs that people want to explore. Additionally, make sure you don’t only display expensive products in the front section of your store because that could alienate customers who are looking for deals and bargains.
Regardless of which fixtures and items you choose to display, it’s vital that employees keep them tidy at all times. You don’t want to give off the impression that your store is disorganized, understaffed or lacking in quality.
When you’re arranging products on tables and mannequins on the floor, don’t forget about window displays. These strategic areas are perfect to showcase your top merchandise that will entice shoppers to enter the shop. Technically, the front-facing displays you set up make the true first impression on passersby.