Finding the Joy in Retail
Most people would agree that no one has changed or defined the face of the candy industry quite like the inimitable Willy Wonka.
Yes, for all the madness throughout the movie, very few people can forget that feeling they had when the camera takes them into the factory where a waterfall churns a river of chocolate surrounded by an explosion of edible color.
I don't know of anyone who would not have given anything to go on a tour of the chocolate factory at that point (although that sentiment may have shifted by the end of the film). The point is there was an immediate sense of wonder and delight that made everyone watching crave a Wonka chocolate bar right then and there— fictitious or not.
While you may not have a Hollywood budget or the undeniable talents of Gene Wilder to work with, every merchant can inject a bit of that Wonka magic to make customers smile as they reach for their wallets.
5 Ways to Delight Your Customers
1. Be Welcoming
Few things turn people off quite like being ignored. If you want to ensure a customer never has a reason to come back in your store, treat them like a piece of furniture. However, a customer who feels you are genuinely happy to see them is more likely to spend, more likely to return, and more likely to refer their friends.
This does not mean you have to halt all progress on the million things that need to get done during the day. In the background of the film, the oompa loompas were still grinding away between songs. All it means is each customer has a positive interaction before they come up to the register. Let's play this out:
"Hi I'm Bob! May I help you find something?" If the answer is no, Bob is free to move on with his work and let the customer know "if you change your mind, I'm here to help!" If the answer is "yes", Bob can guide the customer to the correct part of the store and place the item in their hands. This almost always ends in a sale.
Bob can get all his work done while still being helpful and making the customers feel appreciated.
2. Play To Your Audience
At Shopventory headquarters in Denver, just about everyone in the office is a sports fan. While we may all have different allegiances (and wear the gear to show as much), we all know one thing: When we step out the doors, we are in "Bronco Country".
Yes, everywhere you go in this city, the orange and blue of the reigning American football champions is displayed with pride. This includes the many cafés, apparel shops, liquor stores, vape shops and supermarkets throughout the area. Whether it's football season or not, Denver residents love their Broncos and retailers along the front range of the Rocky Mountains know it.
Of course it's always best to avoid taking sides in anything remotely controversial, but in matters of area sports, regional weather, or just local quirks, a wink to your customers will put a smile on their face and give them one more reason to stick around and buy.
3. Know Your Products
Merchandising is key. We actually wrote a blog post on this subject a few months ago. But a creative and fun display of your merchandise can put your customers in the buying mood without breaking your bank.
Sites like Pinterest, or small business blogs, or even just a simple Google search can yield ideas galore to make your shelves pop and your items come alive.
The other part of this means knowing what’s on hand, what’s selling, and what’s not really moving. Insights into your inventory will help you make the best, most informed decisions about what needs a boost and what sells itself. This is where Shopventory’s inventory management tools can really give you a valuable edge. Pricing decisions, discount tracking, margin calculations, Shopventory’s automation can make these a 2-minute rather than a 2-hour proposition.
4. Make It An Experience
The overall point here is to set yourself apart by cultivating an atmosphere of fun and engagement. Consider the places where you like to shop and dine. What did you like about it? What made it fun? What was it about the service that you enjoyed?
Take the core ideas of what makes places popular and enjoyable and experiment with them in your own store. There has to be room for you to grow, change, and innovate, but the key is to have fun doing it. Customers who are served by engaged and knowledgeable employees in a thoughtfully crafted environment are customers who want to come back again and again.
This can especially be the case for businesses where you want your customers to stick around. (Cafés, fashion boutiques, bars, thrift stores, etc.). Spending a few dollars on a strip of outlets and a few USB chargers, picking up a few gently used board games, putting out a complimentary water dispenser, experimenting with muzak, or engaging with customers digitally by using Pokémon Go or other apps can all lead to customers sticking around.
5. Thrive On Feedback
There is one common thread in almost every successful business. The owners are good at finding out what the customer wants. Whether the customers themselves know what they want is mostly irrelevant. People didn't know what a Café Americano was until Starbucks added it to the menu. People thought they just wanted a better way to buy CD’s until Apple introduced the iPod. The point is to identify what the customer actually wants from your business.
Engage the customers and ask them what they like and what they don't. This goes beyond putting out a stack of comment cards (although those can provide valuable insight). But striking up a genuine conversation with a customer will help you get some firsthand understanding. Some ideas may be more valuable than others, but identifying your target customers and listening to their feedback rarely has a downside.
The tricky part is making sense of that feedback. You may get two conflicting requests from two equally valued customers. "I like to see men’s jackets at the front of the store," one may say, while the other demands "Why can't you just put them towards the back near the pants?". If you dig a little bit and ask why, they may give you a bit more insight.
Rather than having to decide to put them in the front or back, it may make more sense to set them in the center of the store with a more eye-catching display so they're still visible from the front, and move the pants to be right next to them. One is after visual appeal, the other is merely interested in convenience. Both points are valid, but it doesn't have to be limited to choosing one or the other. When either customer comes back next time, you can proudly point out that their feedback had a hand in your new setup.
How would you react to a store that did that? The mundanity of a simple display suddenly becomes like that chocolate waterfall we all remember. We become delighted and even flattered as customers. We want to tell our friends and get them to start shopping here. Never underestimate the effect of merely getting a chuckle out of someone. Those smiles become sales if you play your cards right.
We at Shopventory help merchants make the best decisions. Our advanced reporting lets you know what items are due for the clearance shelf and which items are paying the bills. It's tough to delight your customer when the items they came to buy are out of stock so our inventory alerts help you to avoid ever saying that awful phrase, "I'm sorry, we're actually out of that..."
Thousands of merchants all over the world trust Shopventory to make the most of their inventory; over a billion dollars worth of inventory and counting. The average merchant saves more than 6 hours of payroll per week with inventory management. Right now we are offering a full-feature 30-day trial of Shopventory FREE with no credit card required. Shopventory is also backed by a 30-day money back guarantee for a total of 60 days no-risk.