Improve Your Retail Store– Starting Today
You’ve made it through the first third of the year—how is your store doing? If the answer is “meh” or anything worse, you might benefit from some of these tips. Whether you’re a Rug, Flooring, or Home Furnishings retailer, there are some basic steps to take to improve your retail store starting now, and end the year (and your bottom line) on the plus side.
1. Get personal with customers
That doesn’t mean ask them what their favorite color is– it does mean make sure they feel special. 2018 brings with it some fierce competition; merchants are putting more effort into vying for consumers’ attention and dollars than ever before. Customers now expect very relaevantly, personalized interactions with from brands. Here are two ideas:
1. Customized Promos: That means sending people promotions that make sense based on their interests and behavior (it’s the enemy of mass, one-size-fits-all marketing). We know that customizing offers makes it more likely you’ll get a repeat buyer. One way to do this is with email segmentation. If you know a customer bought one item from you, you can send them an upsell that coordinates with their previous purchase. Or, if you offer services as well as products (such as a Rug Cleaning arm of your Rug Store) you can email your prior rug customers about getting their annual cleaning when the time rolls around.
2. Reward previous customers: Do you have a loyalty program? Do you send any special advertising to people who have purchased from you in the past? We know these people are willing to buy from you (that’s what their purchase history tells us) so they should be a primary target of yours. Make them feel valued with special perks just for them. Write them thank you notes. Call them personally to tell them about your newest store special. Anything to make them feel valued will be a smart move.
2. Upgrade outdated hardware, software, and processes
Is your current store’s technology making the cut? Technology is there to help your store, so ask yourself a few questions about your experience with store’s technology over the past year:
- Did it help you manage your everyday tasks as a business owner?
- Did it help improve conversions?
- Were the experiences of your customers improved because of it?
- Did it make life easier for you?
- Did it help you in evaluating and planning for the future?
If you aren’t feeling great about the answers to these questions, it’s time for a change. This could be as simple as updating to a new version of your software, to getting new tech equipment altogether. Here’s a quick list of what may need a refresh:
- Point of Sale: Still have a clunky cash register? What about a POS that doesn’t work for the specifics of your business? If so, it’s time for an upgrade to a smarter, better, more efficient POS. Most modern POS systems come with inventory, analytics, and e-commerce features so you can run multiple aspects of your business from one place.
- Website: Does your website look like it was made in the 90s? Is it mobile-friendly? Have you provided shoppers a way to see your inventory? Evaluate how you’re presenting your business online and consider a website refresh to attract today’s shopper.
- Inventory: If you’re still using a pen and paper or a dreaded excel sheet to track your inventory, then it’s definitely time for an upgrade. There are a plethora of amazing inventory solutions to make this process hassle-free.
- Finances: Knowing how you’re doing financially is key– if you don’t know your numbers, you don’t know how to improve. Make sure to get an accounting system that can automatically sync sales, reconcile accounts, and more.
3. Try New Things
You’re an established retailer– you know your field in and out. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room to try new things, especially if it means more revenue generated. One thing to consider: today’s shopper doesn’t shop the same as the shoppers ten years ago. Why? Because the big bad web is here, and it has changed the buying process forever.
With this in mind, it may be time to try new sales channels and new means of promotion to drive your in-store traffic. For a lot of retailers, this could mean setting up e-commerce and mobile websites. RM E-commerce can help here by integrating your in-store POS with an online storefront.
If you already have e-commerce covered, then maybe it’s time to think new ways of marketing. This may include Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google, and Email, to name a few. Reaching customers digitally, and providing the digital experience they want, is the best way to stay relevant in an ever-changing retail environment.
4. Conduct an In-Store Audit
When a customer enters your store for the first time, they will ask themselves a hundred questions in the first few seconds. Questions like: Can I trust this store? Will I be able to find what I want quickly and how? Will the sales staff be helpful? Are the prices within my budget? Does this feel like a store I want to be in? Is there anything unique about this place?
With all these questions going through a customer’s mind, a store has to provide the right answers to gain their trust and their wallet. If you want to improve your retail store, this hinges on improving your customers’ experiences there. Here are a few tips:
- Signage: Customers, especially those coming in for the first time, crave guidance. They don’t want to fumble around looking lost and waste their time. Put a bold, clear message at the entrance of your store telling customers what your store offers. Ensure that all promotional signs (EX: 15% off Oriental Rugs) are straightforward and easy to see. All items should be clearly marked with prices. At the counter, put a simple sign such as a mention of your website, or a loyalty program.
- Make the counter count: Ideally, your checkout counter should provide a clear line of sight from the entrance of the store. This enables you to greet customers as soon as they walk in, giving them the right impression that this is a friendly, welcoming environment.
- Ensure you are the authority: This mainly concerns the sales staff in your store and your investment in training them. If a customer can research online for hours before visiting a brick-and-mortar, it’s likely they know what they’re looking for and quite a bit about the product. However, there’s still ample opportunity for your sales staff to act as knowledgeable experts and advocates. Make it clear that your staff members are personal devotees of your product, and that they know enough to help a shopper make an informed decision.This allows your customers to better identify with your produ
- Disguise your store as a destination: Is your store a depressing, boring place stuffed full of product? OR is it an urban oasis that people enjoy visiting? Urban oasis may be a bit of a stretch… But experience counts. Consider adding additional amenities to your store, such as free wifi, charging stations, comfortable seating, or refreshments. Consider adding events into this strategy. For example, if you sell home decor, what about a free decorating class with a local interior designer? This is all part of the bigger picture of drawing in customers to your brand.
5. Create the Measurement Plan
As business legend Peter Drucker once said, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” What are you measuring on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis? Do you know what set of data is important to help grow your business? You’ll never know how you’re doing (or where to go next) if you aren’t implementing real measurement. Here are a few metrics to consider:
- Weekly & Monthly Revenue: This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s the foundational measurement for your store’s success. Do you compare your MoM or YoY revenue consistently? If you don’t keep an eye on the books, you’ll have no idea how you’re doing relative to your baseline.
- Number of Shoppers: If you have a consistent closing rate, a clear way to increase sales is to grow the number of customers who enter your store.
- Number of Customers: And yes, more shoppers is great. But you also want to consider how many of those shoppers actually turn into customers (aka your closing or conversion rate).
- Sales per Employee: This is a valuable metric when you have a sales staff. In this case, it is important to evaluable each employee individually so you know what their impact is on your business’s success. Most POS systems will have a way to log this as well.
Overall, these are just a few metrics to consider. Every industry has different metrics that point towards either a negative or positive trend in the growth of their business. If you want to improve your retail store, then it’s important to identify those trends and key metrics. If you want to learn more about how the right metrics and measurement can boost your bottom line, give the RM Pro page a visit and request a demo. Our team can tell you why hundreds of top Rug & Home Furnishings retailers have counted on RM Pro for their store’s success.