A few weeks ago, at the JA New York show, I sat in on a retail tips seminar led by Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, founder of Retail Minded magazine. She said her techniques could help store owners maximize profit, increase sales, and make more money. Her presentation was short and sweet—but her clever and helpful tips have staying power. Check them out.
1. Use data from unexpected places.
“Data is gold,” Reyhle said. Point-of-sale data is a given, but, she said, retailers should avail themselves of additional, unexpected data to better understand customer behavior. For example: IBM’s Watson Trend, which collects human language data from more than 10,000 sources, and provides insights into what customers care about (the top trends the night before the seminar: Apple Watch, yoga, and vegan diet).
2. Increase store signage to help speak to your customers.
“One-third of customers say they do not want to talk to store staff,” Reyhle said, urging retailers to use window signage, door signage, awning signage, counter signage, floor signage, displays, and shopping bags to communicate with people nonverbally.
3. Incorporate Wi-Fi into your business.
Having free Wi-Fi “accommodates 21st century customers,” Reyhle said. “One in three of the buying audience is a millennial. Support their reality. The reality is, the smartphone is getting smarter. People use their phones for data, shopping, email, transactions. So you want to make sure you’re able to welcome that audience. Plus, you can get customer data from allowing people to use the Internet.”
Reyhle suggested using a sponsored Internet—she recommends Cloud4Wi.com—so that when customers log on, they’re greeted by a message (something along the lines of “Internet complimentary care of…”) and prompted to enter their name and email. “You can also ask them a mini-survey (what brought you into the store?),” she said.
4. Become a stronger shipping store.
“You have to have shipping as an in-store opportunity because that total experience of your customer is not exclusive to your four walls,” Reyhle said. “You’re reaching customers worldwide, accommodating customers who are purchasing gifts (it saves them a trip to Fedex), and increasing selling opportunities. Work with a shipping partner. There are lots of easy turnkey opportunities.”
5. Pay attention to weather.
“Weather directly impacts how consumers behave,” Reyhle said. “Weather offers insight into immediate and future spending patterns.
“You need to begin reacting to weather so you have something stockpiled for rainy days. So you can drive email marketing (the No. 1 driver of commerce), offer sales, and push promotions out into your networks that capture what’s going on in the weather and tie it back to your store,” Reyhle continued. “ ‘When the weather is dreary, these drusy rings brighten your day!’ Or: ‘$50 gift card in store only for people who mention this post!’ Give them that push to say, ‘Yes, the weather’s bad, but coming here makes sense.’
“Your goal is to ‘jewelerize’ your specials so they are appropriate for your store. Offer something that’s literally turnkey, and offer it in your social media and email marketing. The idea is to drive people to your store.”
Reyhle said a great resource for weather promotions is GuaranteedWeather.com.
6. Pay attention to staples and statements.
“A staple is what milk is to a grocery store: red roses, diapers, coffee,” Reyhle said. “Your statements are eggnog over the holidays, pink tulips, peppermint lattes. Staples get customers in stores. Statements, on the other hand, keep customers in stores.”
7. Become an event planner.
“Retail is a social, interactive, engaging, entertaining experience,” Reyhle said. “Retail is changing. Amazon came out with a TV show called Style Code Live—it captures the millennial audience. It’s a 30-minute show every day that shows you styles—accessories, fashion—and beneath it is a link to buy. Entertainment and retail collide.
“That is the future of retail, so if you want to keep up with that lifestyle that customers crave, you need to consider how events can be incorporated into your business. They give you opportunities to connect with customers, engage with shoppers, keep customers loyal and entertained, and also make money. You can’t dismiss how events can impact your total bottom line. Work with other like-minded community businesses that are not competitive: a bakery, a florist, a clothing boutique. Deliver a dynamic experience and make sure the media knows.”
8. Become transparent.
“There are three reasons to expose yourself,” Reyhle said. “A: Transparency allows the truth to be told by you, not your competition. The reality is that it all trickles back to the consumer. Companies are held accountable by their customers.
“B: Transparency helps build a connection between you and your customer. They’ll become loyal when they feel connected. You want your customers not to feel intimidated.
“And C: Transparency allows damage control when necessary. Being upfront eliminates the need for white lies, disappointing customers. There’s a shipping delay from a vendor? An employee made a mistake? Product flaw? Honesty in a crowded marketplace will set you apart.”
9. Know the three tips to red carpet customer service.
“You want customers, referrals, and more money?” Reyhle said. “Be starstruck. You need to be in awe anytime a customer comes to your store. And your team needs to be starstruck. Provide royal treatment. And get their autographs. The ultimate autograph is getting their card or cash. Other autographs include getting them on email lists, social media, snail mail. Then put them into action: referral programs, shopping incentives, handwritten thank-yous, loyalty clubs, event invitations.”
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