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How to make the retail experience more comfortable

How to make the retail experience more comfortable

When a customer walks into a grocery store they meander up and down each aisle, grabbing items that correspond to their shopping list or to the whims of their stomach. This sort of shopping experience is what every store owner hopes happens when a customer walks into their establishment – rapid fire buying with little hesitation. However, this is much easier said than done. Unless you’re selling essentials, such as food, you may have a more difficult time completing the sale due to factors such as budget, an unpleasant shopping environment or a pushy salesperson. This is where the shopper’s comfort level comes into play. The more comfortable a shopper is, the more likely they are to be less guarded and more inclined to make a purchase.

Why is customer comfort so important?
According to JD Associates, a marketing technology firm, customer comfort is key to getting new customers to convert to return customers. It’s not enough to have the best deals or to simply make one sale. You might think that just because a customer buys from you one day they will return again. If a businessman needs a new tie, comes into your establishment and has a bad experience, he may still buy a tie if his need is great, but the next time he’s out shopping on a Saturday morning, he won’t be coming back. Customer experience is your best tool to turn shoppers into repeat business.

In crafting the ultimate shopper experience, there are three areas on which you should focus: Social, physical and extras. A winning combination of these aspects will give you a leg up on the competition.

Social comfort
You and your sales staff need to be able to gauge the shopper’s level of desired interaction when they enter your store. Think about the example from the first paragraph. Someone buying essentials probably doesn’t need much attention. At most, they might ask where to find a particular item, but otherwise they are best left to their own devices. But what if that same shopper was on a used car lot? How would the salesperson in that scenario act? They would probably be more hands on and try to give the customer as much attention as possible.

There’s a spectrum of appropriate reaction, and it could vary by customer. Some people just want to be left alone, after all. Do your best to gauge the customer’s social willingness and act accordingly. If you hover too much, they may decide to leave empty-handed. Often, all you need to do is welcome each customer as they enter the store. This signals to them that you are available, friendly and willing to help with their needs. From there, it’s a matter of using the shopper’s body language to determine whether or not to offer further assistance.

Rolling shopping baskets make it easier to tote around more items.

Physical comfort
This aspect covers everything from temperature to lighting, to aisle width and ergonomics. Some of these more nuanced areas are easier to control than others. Store temperature is easily adjusted, and appropriate lighting levels should be determined according to building codes. But have you properly considered the spacing of your racks and display cases? Our huge variety of clothing racks gives you lots of options when determining how best to make use of your space. Round racks and four-way racks can be used in tandem to add variety and create pathways to lead your customers around the store.

Additionally, carts and shopping baskets are integral to the shopper’s experience. Consider the humble shopping basket – you might not have given much thought to it before, but it can have a definite impact on the amount of items your customers buy. Holding a heavy basket can signal to a shopper that it’s time to head to the register. Our rolling shopping baskets can be carried or rolled, using an extendable handle. This lets shoppers carry more items – potentially increasing the amount of products they purchase.

The physical aspect of the shopping experience has a lot to do with convenience.

“Keep ahead of your competitors with a few key extra touches.”

Extra comfort
Even if your customers feel socially and physically comfortable in your store, there’s more you can be doing. The above tips will help put you ahead of your average competitors, but going the extra mile will keep you one step ahead of your best competitors. Spend some serious time considering what this could mean for your store. Some furniture retailers give away freshly baked cookies. One hat shop in Boston even gives out free whiskey to age-appropriate customers.

Your extra touches needn’t be consumable. It could be a small touch, like adding a scent system to your establishment. Maybe you have a coat check in the winter months. This is where you can get very creative. Not only will it make your store more comfortable, it will make people remember you and talk about your establishment.

Keep it going
Don’t let the good feelings end when the shopper leaves the store. Kissmetrics, an online marketing analytics leader, recommended keeping lines of communication open as long as possible. You can achieve this by having one or two active social media accounts. Use these to interact with your customers on their terms. The more shoppers get used to hearing from you, the more likely they’ll be to listen. Just be sure to keep the interactions positive and remember to deliver real value, such as early notice for sale promotions or coupon codes.

Comfort is simply too important to be ignored. Strive to keep this at the forefront of every change you make. How will your actions make the customer feel? Will they be likely to return based on those feelings? Online communication coupled with in-store comfort is a truly winning combination.