Now, more than ever, it is vital to set your brick-and-mortar retail space apart. Coronavirus has impacted the retail sector in unprecedented ways. Consumer shopping habits, already learning away from brick-and-mortar retail, have dramatically shifted in favor of online shopping.
Online retailers offer savings that most boutique operations can’t. Online shops also offer a level of safety that, in the time of a pandemic, makes customers more likely to do their shopping from the comfort of their own home. So, as more and more shoppers flock to the siren’s song of online shopping, brick-and-mortar businesses are faced with a clear challenge. They must adapt to exceed shoppers’ expectations, or die.
The most successful businesses will not only create an inviting physical space for their customers but will also develop a community to which their customers will want to belong. Here are five ways that retailers can adapt to this changing market and rise above the impending brick-and-mortar crisis.
The In-Store Experience
Depending on your local regulations, your store may or may not be closed for the time being. Whether you’re closed or experiencing lower foot traffic, now is the perfect time to update the flow and culture of your shop’s floor. If your customers are making the journey to shop in person, you want to make sure that the interior space feels welcoming rather than cold or uninviting.
Even a 20000 sq ft steel building can be made to feel warm and inviting. Make sure that you eliminate lines or crowds near the cash register by installing a modern point of sale system that’s easy to use. If it fits the aesthetic of your store, you can further speed up the checkout process by equipping your sales associates with iPads that link to the POS system.
Spend time with your sales associates to make sure that they’re highly trained with all of your products. One of the advantages that brick-and-mortar shops have over online retailers is that there’s built-in human interaction. Customers want to believe that your salespeople are experts on your products. They want to turn to them for advice. If your staff is well trained, your customers will return loyally.
Aesthetic is King
While you’re improving the overall shopping experience, consider adding some aesthetic touches to your salesfloor. Customers not only care about what products you offer, they care about how your store makes them feel. Develop your store’s ambiance by embracing your brand. If your products are primarily vintage clothes, install a throwback wallpaper, and invest in funky light fixtures.
Also, consider matching the music in the shop to the overall identity you’re trying to embrace. The way your store looks, sounds, and smells will convey a story to your customers— a story of who they are by virtue of the fact that they shop with you.
It’s the Outside that Counts
Even if your shop is the hippest boutique in town, if your store’s exterior looks like a garage, customers will never venture inside. Updating your storefront awnings is one simple way to improve your commercial building’s appearance. Your commercial awning can be used to introduce your retail store’s name, aesthetic, and even price point to your customers.
Your awning can telegraph a lot of information to passersby. In order to find the best price for your awning, simply Google by your location (for example, “commercial awnings Chicago“) or search on databases such as Angie’s List for reputable contractors. Once your awning has been installed, you can focus on other projects like flower boxes or shutters.
While improving your store’s ambiance and appearance will do wonders for your business, it’s just a fact that many people won’t feel comfortable shopping in person for quite some time. With that in mind, it’s time to embrace shopping technology. The most successful retailers will offer shoppable links on their Instagram posts and Facebook updates.
Post at least once a day across multiple platforms, showing your customers what new products you have in stock and offering them ways to purchase online. If you’re a smaller shop, you may even consider offering your customers the option to buy via the Instagram or Facebook direct message feature. The easier you make it for customers to buy from you, the more money you’ll make.
Know Your Audience
Last but not least, take some time to get to know your clientele. If you have regulars you haven’t seen in a while, make an effort to reach out to them. Use your social media accounts to research your key demographics and establish relationships with other local small businesses to create a community. By building these connections, you’ll inspire brand loyalty in your customers!
Thought the news is a lot of doom and gloom when it comes to retail lately, there are many ways to make sure that your business survives and even thrives in these turbulent times.
Interesting related article: “What is Retail?“