We know being a local retailer is one tough job– Which is why we’ve put together some wise words to help you achieve the success you’re after. Here’s are a few retail tips we consider top of the list:
First Impressions Only Come Once
How do you start off on the right foot when engaging a customer who just walked into your store? The answer is quickly. Some studies say it takes only 10 seconds for us to generate an impression of someone. And within those first 10 seconds, here is what scientific study says we are trying to decipher:
- What is this person’s intentions towards me?
- How strong and competent is this person?
We’ve all had that experience where we walk into a store, are approached by a sales associate, and immediately we feel suspicious, uncomfortable, and overwhelmed. And we’ve had the opposite experience as well, where our interaction with the sales associate has been pleasant and relaxing.
Here are a few tips from researcher Amy Cuddy on how to make customers feel more at ease:
- Let the customer speak first. Start by asking them a question, not by charging into conversation or product pushing. Let them tell you why they’re in their store, and actively listen to what they say.
- Collect information about the customer’s interests; spend a few minutes interacting with them as real human beings, not just shoppers. Research proves that just five minutes of small talk before a negotiation can increase the value created by that negotiation.
- Start off with customers on a positive note. In one study, researchers found that waiters who greeted customers with a single positive comment, such as “good morning” or a favorable comment about the weather, increased their tips by 27%.
Hire Like It’s the Most Important Decision You’ll Ever Make
As Jim Collins once said in “Good to Great,” get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats. If you have the budget, a second in command can be a huge plus for your retail store. But if you make a bad hiring decision, it could cost you; some reports say the cost of a bad hire is at least 30% of the employee’s first-year earnings.
When hiring for management positions, be sure to scour the resumes with a meticulous eye, ask tough questions about their retail experience, and always always check their references. This may seem like common knowledge, but it’s not always put into practice. And that’s understandable—hiring is a time-consuming process and small business owners rarely have that kind of time to spare. But getting the right team on board is the smartest thing you can do to set yourself up for success.
Choose Your Words (And Actions) Wisely
Have you ever stopped to examine how you actually communicate with others? Your tone or the specific words you choose? Or maybe what type of body language you use? It’s unlikely many of us have put too much thought into it, but it can make a big difference when it comes to closing the sale.
First, consider your body language when you speak with customers. You may pay closer behavior to the words you say, but your body language is already doing a lot of the talking for you. Countless studies have come to the conclusion that effective nonverbal communication is essential for shaping your buyers’ behavior. One study, presented by Vanessa Van Edwards looked at sales people who had received a training session on using their body language to reinforce verbal messages. The study found that salespeople who use effective body language increased sales by 56%.
Here are a few tips said to win over more customers:
- Smile: Remember what we said earlier about starting off on a positive note?
- Sit Up Straight & Maintain Good Posture: If you show confidence, your customers will have confidence in what you’re selling.
- Lean In: Standing far away from a customer, or at the other end of a table, doesn’t make them feel comfortable. Lean in just slightly when speaking with a customer to show that you are engaged and paying attention to what they are saying (while, ofcourse, still respecting their personal space).
- Match Body Language: When you “mirror” body language to the customer, it builds feelings of trust. This is because it generates unconscious positive feelings of affirmation, as if you are agreeing with what they are saying. Don’t get carried away and start playing copy cat, just work in some similar movements.
Second, what about the words themselves? One thing to be aware of is how you talk about your competitors. You may think bad talking the retailer down the street makes you look better… But the reality is you could be accomplishing just the opposite; making yourself look worse. That’s due to something researchers call “Spontaneous Trait Transference.” In layman’s terms, that means that when you say negative things about someone else, the listener often can’t help but put those same traits on you. So by telling a potential customer that your competitor’s items are low quality or overpriced, they might just start associating you with those terms instead. When it comes to conversation, the old rule applies: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all stick with “No Comment.”
Stay current but remain true to your brand.
Styles and preferences can all change from year-to-year– you should always be on the lookout for where the market is going. With that being said, don’t stray too far from your brand to the point it stops making sense to customers. If you’re a home furnishing store that specializes in Antiques, deciding suddenly to stock half the store with modern and contemporary furnishings probably isn’t going to please your customer base. Instead, it will likely just really confuse them.
Keep an eye on what shoppers are into by visiting markets and reading industry publications, but balance that with a healthy, consistent theme. And remember: the best feedback on your product selection will come right from your customers.
Embrace 2017: Let Technology Do Its Job
The real job of technology is to make our lives easier. So why not let it do just that?
There are many, many technologies built just for retailers. Start with your point-of-sale system. Do you have the industry standard? For example, RM Pro was built specifically for rug and home furnishings retailers. And it encompasses every industry-specific feature a retailer could ever want or need. A good point of sale should keep everyday retail processes running smoothly, allowing you to focus on more important things (like growing your business).
What about a website? A strong digital presence, and putting your store where people can find you online, can help drive in-store visits. And if your website is E-commerce enabled, you’ll be opening an additional revenue channel to help you meet those yearly sales goals.
If you’re looking for some helpful retail technologies you can get from the comfort of your phone, check out our post “The Best Retailer Apps to Download Now.”
There you have it—Some retail tips and wise words. Do you have any other pieces of advice for encouraging retail success? If so, be sure to share in the comments below.