Retail trends are often short-lived and rapidly changing with consumers. Sometimes this fast-paced environment may be difficult for smaller establishments to keep up the pace with larger retailers out there. One positive outlook for the retail year of 2016 is that the trend of buying online will continue to grow, and small boutique retailers have an even playing field on the Internet if they know how to utilize it in tandem with their brick-and-mortar establishment.
Here are 9 ways you can make sure you stay in step with the big guns:
1. Nurture confidence in your brand.
Make sure that you provide your customers with the tools and information – both online and in your store – they need to discover what new products you have available, any promotions that are ongoing and guided recommendations tailored to the needs of each individual shopper.
The easiest way to do that? Consider creating a mobile app for you business that will help you collect information and data from the consumer to build a customer profile for your system, all while simultaneously stream-lining their shopping experience.
2. Now that you have an app, get rid of any obstacles.
Even though you’ve made your store’s mobile app doesn’t mean you’ve magically created the perfect shopping trip just yet. You need to make sure to include some key features for you patrons for the optimal experience.
- Give your patrons the option of shopping ahead of time for ‘in-store’ pick-up. This way they can try on any items they were unsure of, or add things to their purchases.
- Include one-click transactions to make regular purchasing ever so easy, and it’s popping up everywhere – here’s why.
3. Personalize the shopping experience.
Everyone loves to feel special. Personalize your patrons’ visit to your site and store by using the information you’ve acquired through customer profiles, purchasing history and the types of items associated with their interests and preferences. Your CRM is an extremely useful tool, as is any loyalty programs that you have available to your customer base.
4. Be open and transparent
Customers like loyalty and honesty in their choice of shopping establishment. It fosters a trustworthy relationship between the retailer and the consumer. The bonus of being a small business owner allows you to have a more personal relationship with your customer base. Most likely, you will know many of your shoppers by name. 7 in 10 Americans labeled trustworthiness in a product as important for their purchasing. Utilize this tool to your advantage.
5. Build partnerships with similar small businesses
Are you getting some feedback from your customers on variety? Consider partnering with other small boutiques similar to yours with a cross-channel rewards program – think of frequent flier program partner programs like One-World or Star Alliance as examples. Being able to use other services or purchase goods from other companies while still earning rewards, creates a huge incentive for your customer base to remain in the retail circle you’ve built.
6. Take responsibility for the ownership of your products.
Becoming a student of your own business not only benefits you, but also your customers. Your finely cultivated expertise is a tool to educate as well as build the confidence in your brand. Because you have shown a real passion for the ownership of your business and a responsibility for the products that you sell, your customers will know they can depend on you for a knowledge in your field – as well as quality support.
7. Mirror your in-store community with your on-line presence.
Just because you have well-established on-line platform, does not mean you can neglect the brick-and-mortar part of your business. In fact, you want to convey the image of your brand’s ‘home’ in the same way it is done on-line. This requires routine maintenance in-store (proper cleaning equipment, updated displays or innovative design), with that same image mirrored on-line.
A study carried out in a 100-person workplace showed that a clean workplace yielded higher productivity, not to mention consumers are 70 percent more likely to return to an establishment if well-kept. Nothing is more disappointing to customers than feeling mislead by on-line photos that misrepresent the physical environment of your business and destroys the feeling of trust so important to shoppers.
8. Welcome feedback from your customer community.
Be inventive with ways social media can involve the shopping community. Ask for feedback on new products, introduce opportunities to become brand ambassadors for your company and make them feel part of something. If an individual advocates for something, generally that means they truly believe in the item, the cause, the company etc. Your loyal customers are your advocates – add that tool to your arsenal.
9. Make good on bonus perks to loyal customers.
Everybody loves a good surprise, especially a loyal customer. Deliver unexpected small gifts and promotions for their loyalty to your brand and company. Create a loyalty level system in which there are exclusive deals for your VIP members – like special sales or monthly events. These are all create incentives for your customers to enroll and remain as an integral part of your company. You have created a place where their patronage is not only valued, but rewarded.
This might seem a little overwhelming to the small boutique owner just starting out, but take note that all of these points are not meant to be done all at once. Building a solid on-line and in-store customer base will take time. This list is meant to give you a sort of ‘map’ to start, so you can get in there and compete with the big retailers.
Kacey Mya Bradley is a lifestyle blogger for “The Drifter Collective.” Throughout her life, she has found excitement in the world around her. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations, cultures, and styles, while communicating these endeavors through her passion for writing and expression. Her love for the world around her is portrayed through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts.
The Drifter Collective: An eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us.