Making sure your customers have the best experience when they shop at your brick-and-mortar location will turn them into loyal consumers who return frequently and buy even more from your store.
That’s why we asked 10 successful entrepreneurs from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question:
Q. Brick-and-mortar stores have advantages over their online counterparts. What is one way you can make sure customers have a positive in–store experience they’ll want to repeat?
For brick and mortar stores to survive in the age of online shopping, they need to focus on what they do best: providing product advice and insider knowledge like online sites never can. Nothing beats this. I browse in-store because it is enjoyable, and when accompanied by knowledgeable salespeople, I’ll take home 10 times more things than I would if I am just looking for a specific item online. —Vanessa Nornberg, Metal Mafia
When you own a brick-and-mortar store, you can provide your customers with high-touch and personalized customer service that they would not be able to get in an online setting. You can show different product demonstrations, offer in–store VIP programs and events, reconnect with old customers, and consider the overall customer experience from their perspective. —Kristin Marquet, Creative Development Agency, LLC
If customers trust you, they will be loyal to you. That’s why transparency is so important. Keeping information secret and not being honest about your intentions will damage your relationship with customers. With a brick-and-mortar store, you have a chance to genuinely get to know your customers and their needs. Don’t treat them like any other patron. Smile and engage them, then find out their names and what brings them into your store. —Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker
One thing still missing (even with 24/7 customer service chats and phones) is the ability for a human being to make observations and suggest products. Websites can suggest other products that other customers frequently buy together, but that is not the same as saying, “Hey, I notice your dog is pulling you around the store. Can I offer a suggestion for a training product that might help with that?” —Alisha Navarro, 2 Hounds Design
My favorite stores have this in common: The staff are attentive but not overly so. They don’t ask me if I need help every two minutes, but when I do need help, they know the stock well enough to respond intelligently. Sensitivity to the customer’s social preferences is key, and it’s something that online retail can’t replicate. —Vik Patel, Future Hosting
One strong way to make sure customers have a glowingly positive in–store experience is training your staff to make eye contact and to smile. At my massage studio, our goal is to be “the best part of our clients’ day, every day.” —Rachel Beider, Massage Greenpoint
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We are primarily an online retailer, but we do get local pickup orders and it is essential that we wow them! We carry their items to the car for them and give them a free lanyard of their favorite sports team (Go Miami Heat!). Some customer place pick-up orders just to come see us, even though they know we offer free delivery. —Michael Barnhill, Specialist ID
Apple has done an incredible job with this, providing in–store entertainment to their customers and making the environment enjoyable. Use digital displays, interactive games, and strong music that appeal to your target audience’s psychographics. As part of entertaining them, make sure you appeal to the five senses, with enticing scents, engaging visuals, and of course, fun music. —Marcela De Vivo, Mulligan Funding
Have presentations and demonstrations, or offer free samples of your product. Give people a hands-on experience that the internet can’t give them. No matter how big or small you are, you can take a tip from the big innovators like Apple. An Apple Store is more than a distribution point; it is an experience. To compete with the internet, you need to experiment with creative options. —Zev Herman, Superior Lighting
In our mattress showrooms, we’ve trained our staff as sleep specialists to educate customers about our products and provide strategies for improving their sleep habits. We encourage customers to come in and take a nap, providing them with a space they can enjoy. For your retail store, design a welcoming space that encourages customers to come in, learn more about your brand and products, and simply relax. —Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep