Retail analysts talk about friction points during e-commerce but what about in your physical retail space? What are some potential pain points for your customers in your store and how can you eliminate or at least reduce some of them?
The first step is to identify them. If you don’t know about them, they can be causing you to lose sales unknowingly and we don’t want that. Look to identify them through methods such as these:-
- client feedback via surveys or instore feedback forms.
- mystery shopping either via friends of friends or through companies that offer the service.
- Regular in-depth discussions with your team.
So what will you find? Let’s look at some examples of things that could be happening in your store.
- Was your store hard to find? Are customers potentially getting the wrong information as to your location or struggling to find it on google at all? Are you listed on the mall directory correctly or in other online listings? Is it visible from the street or do you need extra signage to help customers find it?
- Is it difficult for your customers to work out how your store is laid out? Does your merchandising make sense to others or only to you? Think logically about how you merchandise things to help make it easy for customers to find things. It also helps to upsell other items if you get it right. Consider following a brand organization, a color scheme for example or by clearly identifying categories. Don’t be afraid of putting signage. Signage isn’t just for large format stores.
- Does it take time to process a sale at your cash point? Sometimes, particularly in small boutiques we don’t always consider how things will work at busier times. We envisage a nice relaxed customer transaction, chatting through the payment processing and slowly preparing the items into a bag. However, if you have a few customers wanting to pay at the same time or you have a customer who is in a rush you need to be ready to serve them quickly. Make sure you train your team to process sales quickly and effectively and to handle situations of stress in the right manner.
- Return & Exchange policies are a point of contention for all retailers and also customers. It’s like the elephant in the room that everybody avoids talking about but the easier you make it for yourself and customers, the less of an issue it has to be. People are either going to return something because it is faulty or because they simply changed their mind. Consider the lifetime value of each client you have not just the face value of the refund they are asking for. Put simple procedures in place that both you and your team can follow and try to state your policy on display somewhere in a non-aggressive way.
- Is your store comfortable to be in? Does it get too hot in summer or too cold in winter? Is it cramped? Is your music too loud? Unlike with e-commerce, the environmental factors of your physical store can affect the experience of your customer. Focus on making it smell nice, play relaxing, uplifting music and make sure the temperature & lighting are comfortable.
Unforeseen things will always happen in retail but the better equipped you are to handle them the better. Take the time to investigate what could be happening during your customers’ experience of your store and then use that knowledge to improve things.