It’s no secret that retail has moved from seller-centric to buyer-centric. Merchants, both large and small, now realize that they must make changes to accommodate their customers, whether in-store or online. So they’re changing the way they do business, to be in touch and in sync.
Updated technology is one of the ways they’re reaching out to bring in shoppers. Another is increasing perks, and extending offerings. One of my favorite techniques, is the move to “entertailing,” or providing more entertainment at retail establishments
In the technology department, mass market to upscale stores, including Macy’s Sears, and Nordstrom, are offering customers free wireless. They’re doing this to make their establishments more buyer-friendly, but they’re also doing it to counteract shoppers using their stores as showrooms. By offering in-store specials on shoppers’ mobiles, they’re ensuring that people who are in their stores buy then and there. Rather than fight it, how are you taking advantage of customers’ use of their mobiles, to build your business?
To save some “green” as well as show shoppers how green they are, stores are providing digital receipts in lieu of paper. Savvy businesses of all sizes are also substituting iPads for the cash wrap, to make purchases easier for customers and staff. Have you instituted these, or similar, changes?
To build loyalty, stores are using tiered memberships to increase rewards for their most committed customers. Think of how Starbucks reels in coffee buyers–use their card five times and get free refills. Use it 30 times and get a personalized gold membership card. Gap, Best Buy, and Express all do it as well, and you can too in your business.
PetSmart has moved beyond selling products for pets, to being a resource for owners to board pets. Its PetsHotels are showing its customers some love, by welcoming pets as overnight “guests”, as well as offering doggie daycare, in some stores. Likewise, Dollar Tree, a dollar store with more than 4,300 outlets in the U.S. and Canada, has opened a pharmacy in its West Park, FL location. Both of these retailers are extending their services to make life easier for their customers. What are you doing to increase convenience for your current customers and to attract new ones?
On the entertainment front, The Body Shop has updated its 2,600 outlets with a new concept called Pulse. The stores have been redone to make it more comfortable for customers to kick back and stay awhile. (And as every retailer knows, the secret sauce to sales is the length of time a customer stays in the store.)
The idea is to open the conversation with its customers, but in a way, it’s a throwback to how Anita Roddick founded the company. She created a deep connection with customers by bringing together like-minded people; the difference today is the chain is bringing in all kinds of customers to open all kinds of conversations. How are you making shoppers more comfortable to increase customer engagement in your business?
Whether you use technology, or the human touch, if you want to bring more customers to your business, you have to show them how much you value them. You do that by making life easier or more pleasurable for them. Your reward is that your work life becomes easier and more pleasurable as well, not to mention, more successful!
If you want more ideas about bringing in business, I can help. I’ve been a retail reporter at Women’s Wear Daily and Home Furnishings News, a columnist at the Miami Herald and a correspondent at People.
I’ve also handled the marketing and public relations at major corporations and small businesses. Need a speaker or a consultant? Get in touch at Ask Laurel (one word) at laureltielis.com or connect with me at LinkedIn.
Copyright © 2012 Laurel Tielis
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