It may not make sense at first, but did you know your convenience store can attract repeat customers, even if your prices aren’t the lowest in town. Conversely, you might have the lowest prices and yet, see many ‘one-and-done’ customers. People remember a store by how the shopping experience made them feel. It’s about way more than pricing.
The way your store looks from the outside and its ambiance inside play a huge role in customer retention. Your store’s outer appearance is critical to influencing customers to enter. Statistically, 95% of shoppers are drawn into a store based upon its external appearance, 52% avoid a store that appears dirty from outside, and 53% say they avoid a store that’s disorganized inside.
The takeaway here is: Clean your windows, remove old, outdated signage from your front door and organize your store. Your customers will spend more time and feel great in a clean store, with a great atmosphere, where it’s easy to browse the shelves without confusion. Make it simple for customers to peruse and find products they’re interested in purchasing.
Offer clean restrooms and pay attention to customer-comfort details such as maintaining the right temperature, to the smells and scents in your store, to playing enjoyable music. Great ambiance involves a pleasant collaboration of all the senses – far beyond just visual.
Stores that are cleaned often – and every place of business should be! – and look pristine are attractive to customers. No one wants to touch a dusty shelf, or even worse, have to dust off a product.
No matter how busy your business gets, keep cleanliness as a top priority.
“From mopping floors and tidying up restrooms to straightening shelves, assign cleaning as part of your team’s everyday duties,” said Elie Katz, president and CEO of National Retail Solutions (NRS). “Keep glass surfaces, especially food counters, free of fingerprints and streaks. If something spills, mop it up quickly to avoid worse mess and/or a customer slipping, aka lawsuit. Your restrooms should never have bits of toilet paper strewn around or grime on the sink. Repair the tiles, mirrors and hardware. Make sure the door locks. Keeping your store and restrooms shiny and fresh will have a powerful impact on customers. They notice these details. The last thing you want is customers ranting about your store on social media.”
Another key it to create and stick to a planogram. This is a diagram that maps out the aisles of your store and placement of products on your shelves. Customers enjoy being able to find the products that they want. Make sure your items are grouped appropriately. Keep medical supplies near one another. Put kitchen accessories and bakeware in close proximity. You would not want a customer thinking that you don’t have suntan lotion because it’s placed somewhere far away from the rest of your beach accessories.
“In addition, hang signs from the ceiling or affix them over the aisles to inform customers which products are where,” Katz said. “The way items are laid out may seem logical to you and your cashiers, but that probably will not be the case for most customers without helpful signage. Even with signage, people may not know where to go or be able to find certain products. Ensure that your staff is trained on exactly where to locate your items when customers inquire. Your sales team should also be trained to be extremely friendly.”
According to Forbes, “the retail paradigm has shifted from one of Product-Product-Product to People-People-People” and “the critical importance to customers for a human interaction during their in-store shopping experience.”
Having a blowout sale on last year’s umbrellas? Ensure that your sale items and promotionally advertised products are easy to find. Some point of sale (POS) systems, such as the NRS POS, offer customer-facing advertising screens at eye-level, at checkout. This keeps waiting in line interesting, and can increase impulse buying and customers purchasing items that they didn’t have on their shopping list.
The music you play in your store should relate to your core customers. You don’t want to drive customers away by blasting your favorite music too loudly. You may be a punk or heavy metal fanatic – and that’s great – but loud music can literally hurt your customers’ ears and send them running for the door. Aim for cheerful, pop music, easy listening or other appropriate music that makes for a pleasurable shopping experience.
A pleasant olfactory experience goes a long way. For example, if your store has a deli counter, you may want to blow the enticing aroma of freshly cooked food outward. But don’t overdo it. No one wants their clothing smelling of fried chicken or smoke. Remember that time when you were 12 and your parents took you to that ice cream place in Disney that smelled like fresh waffle cones? That was a long time ago, in the happiest place on earth. And you still remember it. That store purposely blows the scent of their cones into the store. Delicious scents make for amazing memories.
During the pandemic, which isn’t over yet, every part of your store must be regularly sanitized, with employees encouraged to frequently use the sanitizer at the checkout counter. Post signage that explains the steps that you’re taking to keep customers safe. Many stores have 6-foot distance markers on the floor to remind customers to socially distance at checkout.
“Customer happiness is very closely tied to how you make them feel when they visit. At a time when online shopping is so popular, it’s even more critical to enhance the experience shoppers have when they visit in person,” Katz said.