Online shopping is quick, easy and convenient. With the ability to purchase nearly anything and get detailed information about those products with just the click of a button, customers no longer have to set foot in brick and mortar retail stores. When they do venture into your business, they want an experience that makes the extra effort worth it. Catering to your customer’s needs and desires is a surefire way to ensure repeat business and spread the word that your live store is just as good — or better — than the digital experience.

Personal Engagement Is a Must

The one thing customers can’t get through online shopping is personal interaction and engagement. When a customer walks into your retail location, they want someone who will be able to answer their questions without talking down to them. They want human interaction on a friendly, non-invasive level, with someone who will enhance their shopping experience just by being there.

Employers should hire retail staff for personality and people skills. Extroverts are already able to strike up a conversation with anyone and find common ground and topics to talk about. They’ve often got a natural gift for putting people at ease and figuring out what they need and want. Teaching an extrovert who has no clue how to work a point of sale system the basics of running a cash register is easier than trying to coax an introvert into faking people skills. When you fake people skills – people notice.

Environment is Everything

Your retail environment is something you just can’t replicate online. It’s something that’s unique to your brick and mortar location. The atmosphere, sensations, smells and ambience all play a role in how your customers perceive their shopping experience. No one wants to spend more time than necessary in a dark, dirty, crowded, quiet store. It’s unsettling for most people. They’ll be reluctant to visit you once and dread visiting you twice.

Enhance your customers’ experience by playing legally licensed music in the store. Background music, specially curated and selected to appeal to your target market, puts customers more at ease.

Make sure your displays are cheery and informative and easy to get a sense of at a glance. An overly crowded display that forces people to spend time trying to locate what they want is not the way to engage your customers.

Adaptability and Personalization

The basic premise of personalization is realizing that no two customers are alike. Each one has different needs and wants, so it’s up to you to figure out how to best personalize their experience.  Your staff needs to be knowledgeable about everything you offer. They must be able to think on their feet and adapt their sales techniques to give each customer what he or she needs.

For example, if you own a pet store, you know that the needs of a cat owner are very different than the needs of a snake owner. Your staff would need to know the different products you stock for cats and for snakes, but they obviously wouldn’t offer snake products to someone looking for cat products.

On a very basic level, this seems like common sense, but a truly personalized experience requires your staff to gain bits of useful information from everything they notice about the customer and use that information when offering specialized help or suggestions. Learning to listen to what a customer has to say will go a long way in developing this skill. Staff members who know how to observe the world around them are worth their weight in gold.

Make it Easy

  • If you can make something easier for your customer, do so. Customers don’t want a big hassle.
  • Ample parking makes it easier to access your store.
  • Wide aisle ways make it easy to navigate in your store.
  • Clearly organized and informative displays make it easy for customers to find what they’re looking for.
  • Highly visible staff means that it’s easy to ask a question.
  • Accepting as many forms of payment as you can means it’s easier for the customer to make a purchase at your store.

If it affects the customer in any way – from the parking lot to the checkout line – make it as easy, simple and streamlined as possible.

Here We Are, Entertain Us

The more time your customer spends in your store, the more likely they are to find something they simply must purchase. Keep customers engaged and in your store by offering some kind of entertainment. This is another experience you can’t replicate online – and people will appreciate your physical presence even more.

Offering entertainment and events related to your business can also bring new customers in – those who wouldn’t go out of their way to shop at your store normally. Very often, those same people will make the effort because there’s something special going on. This gives you the chance to engage with them and keep them coming back. For example, if you own a hobby shop, consider holding an R/C car race. A bedding store could sponsor a “build a fort” day. It needn’t be a big, expensive event, but it should be attention grabbing and entertaining.

Online Integration

Even with a personal touch, ease of access, great staff and an atmosphere that can’t be beat, some people really just don’t want to be in a retail store. Maybe they’ve got an anxiety disorder or maybe they’re merely busy. They may have a screaming child in tow or maybe their day is already overbooked. For whatever reason, those customers want to get in and out as fast as possible. Offering integration with your online store and services is the best way to appeal to these types of customers.

If a customer can order a product online and have it available for pickup and/or purchase at your physical location, they might stop in at your store to avoid delays or shipping costs. Once they’re in the door, your store might appeal to them, but online integration means that you actually have that opportunity. Even if they don’t opt to shop at your physical location, just offering online integration means you might keep their business, especially if your local competitors don’t offer this service.

A Say in the Business

It’s a misconception that if customers aren’t complaining, then they’re totally satisfied. Not everyone wants to speak up about a bad experience and not everyone finds it necessary to give their opinion when they aren’t asked. To understand what your retail customers want, you need to ask them.

Give your customers the option of voicing their opinions. Everything from a suggestion box in your store to customer satisfaction surveys sent through mail or email can give you an idea of what your customers want and need from your retail location. Get live feedback at your business events or on your social media pages. When your customers speak, listen – and show them that you’re listening by making changes.