Even though the buzz in retail is all about mobile and and online shopping, brick-and-mortar stores still account for more than 93 percent of overall retail purchases made in the U.S. Clearly, consumers still prefer brick-and-mortar stores to online shopping. When online shopping offers speed, comfort and convenience, however, brick-and-mortar retailers who want to stay relevant have to ask why customers come to their stores.
Below are some of the reasons — and how you can use them to boost sales.
1) They Want Convenience
Sure, shopping from your office or couch is convenient, but sometimes you need something faster than overnight (or even same-day) delivery can provide. If a customer in the middle of a plumbing repair needs a part, she’s not going to go online to order it.
Make your store even more convenient. Upgrade point-of-sale systems with current technology or use mobile payment systems to take payments anywhere in store. Make sure your store is listed on local search directories so people can easily get driving directions.
2) They Want to Test the Merchandise
Of course, one big reason consumers still visit physical stores is to touch, try on or test products.
Make sure you have a variety of products in stock. If you sell 10 types of toasters, have them all on display. Put out testers of cosmetics or lotions. Have salespeople demonstrate or highlight features customers might not notice on their own. Take advantage of the tactile nature of a store: use music, lighting and scent to enhance the experience.
3) They Want Help Making a Decision
Sometimes, especially for complex or major purchases such as technology or appliances, the sheer volume of online options and opinions gets overwhelming, and customers need expert guidance in making a choice.
Make sure you have well-trained salespeople who can sort through the fluff. A customer might dither for weeks over ordering a dishwasher online, but make a decision in minutes once an experienced sales rep shows her various models and explains the pros and cons. When customers come in with their eyes glazing over from reading online reviews and ratings, you and your staff can act as curators, helping them decide what matters most and making the right choice.
4) They Want Inspiration
Plenty of people shop to get ideas, pass the time or just see what’s new. Hitting the mall to check out the latest fall fashions or visiting a home store to get decorating ideas are examples of this type of shopping.
Make sure your store is merchandised for discovery. Get creative with window and in-store displays and change them frequently. Simply moving merchandise to different parts of the store will expose shoppers to products they may not have noticed last time. Alert customers via email, social media or direct mail when you get new shipments or when seasonal products arrive.
5) They Want Emotional Gratification
Plenty of people shop when they’re bored, lonely or blue.
Make them feel better. Impulse buys — affordable items at the point of purchase or near the front of the store — let shoppers treat themselves without breaking the bank. Friendly salespeople who start chatting with your customers will lift their spirits and keep them coming back. If the salesperson remembers the customer’s taste, suggests add-on purchases and lets him or her know when favorite items come in stock, so much the better.
6) They Want to Have Fun
Consumers often shop as a way to socialize with family and friends or as entertainment. Or they may be in a mall or shopping center to dine or see a movie and add shopping into the mix.
Make sure your store has an enjoyable atmosphere. Events like musical performances, poetry readings, children’s craft days or cooking demonstrations are all ways to attract passersby and keep customers in the store longer. Cheery décor, lively background music and a sociable staff contribute to the party atmosphere.
Why do customers come to your store?
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