Retailers all too commonly neglect to maintain easily-overlooked details that end up harming their end goal of getting customers into their store. We’ve all been in stores which just didn’t feel very welcoming. I’m willing to bet most of us didn’t go back to those stores unless we had no other choice.
It takes a conscious effort to keep your store a welcoming place. People are attracted to places that are well-maintained, so just a little daily effort will make a big difference in increasing your foot traffic. Just follow the steps below to avoid some of the most common mistakes.
1. Don’t ignore your exterior.
If you really want to steer customers one way or the other, it starts from the outside. This is where you have the best chance to woo customers in or shoo away customers before they even walk inside your store!
There are a lot of red flags that go off if things look grimy and old. Keep the more desirable products in full view. Shiny, new, colorful, and eye-catching should be the words to describe your window displays.
Dust or clutter, including personal items like coats or a half-consumed frappuccino cup within view from the exterior are going to be obstacles for anyone looking in your window.
Pay close attention to your signage as well. Worn out signs: missing letters, old-timey fonts, and burned out bulbs are all pitfalls you’ll want to avoid.
2. Never disorient or confuse.
If your window displays get a customer to walk in, this is where you want to be as straightforward as possible.
You’ll want to make sure the last thing the customer sees is a mess. A clean store makes for a pleasant shopping experience. Dusting, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, etc. should be a regular practice. Use checklists to ensure things get done.
Beware of smells as well. Smell is a powerful trigger. Clean without being overly chemical is what you want to go for. Never underestimate the power of smell.
Ideally, it should be very clear that everything is for sale. Shelves should be stocked with consistency and care, label out. Shoot for consistency in product, brand, and/or color.
If you are putting those high-quality items in your displays, then make sure there is plenty of additional light to call attention to them. You’ll want the store in general to be as well-lit as possible. If you have track lighting, they should be pointed straight at the product.
3. Avoid keeping it plain.
This goes for both the exterior and the interior. Beware of camouflaging the store with the street if you can. A customer should be able to look at your store and have a very obvious indication of what the building is, even from a moving car. Try catching the eye with potted plants/landscaping, decorative lights, or even a simple welcome mat.
Colors should be as bright and and rich as possible. Beware of fading. If someone puts up decorations like banners, balloons, or those colorful triangular pennant flags, be aware of their shelf life. Don’t keep them up once they’re an eyesore. Ensure fading damage and shabbiness don’t have a chance to appear.
Try to avoid giving the store a lived-in feel. Keep the personal belongings of employees out of prominent eyesight, especially food items.
Also, be sure any music is low and sound is well-dispersed (i.e. not coming from a single speaker in the corner of the store). Make sure it’s consistent and not distracting. Avoid radio, if possible, especially talk radio. Ads are the worst. You don’t want ads for other businesses to be blaring out as customers wander through your aisles. Consider paid streaming services.
There are many strategies for making sure customers feel welcome. The key really is to consider your customers as much as possible and try putting yourself in their shoes.
Asking questions is also generally a great idea. Your customers won’t tell you the thermostat is too cold, or that the aisles are cluttered, or that you didn’t carry what they wanted... if you never ask.
Checking out what other stores are doing and getting feedback from employees, customers, friends and even “secret shoppers” who can come into your store are also going to give you a much better picture of what can be better. Secret shoppers can be especially helpful for getting a feel for how your employees treat people when you're not there.
With some minimal effort, you’ll start to see more foot traffic and start converting more sales in no time!
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