Ever visit a website in search of a solution or to make a purchase and after a few minutes of difficulty, finally “just give up” because the site is so confusing, cluttered or just poorly designed that it just isn’t worth the trouble? Why does it have to be so complicated? Why can’t I just find ….?
Is there a chance that customers entering your store have the same confusing experience? Do any of them just leave without making a purchase because they are flustered by their “shopping experience?”
A recurring trait I see as I visit stores in my consulting practice is a lack of appreciation for the thought processes of the customer base. Researchers tell us that people make decisions in a very linear way. They get to a decision through a progression of predictable steps. (Dan Areily’s book “Predictably Irrational” and “The upside of Irrationality” are the best references I’ve read on this topic.)
Here are a few questions to ask yourself and your staff to determine what improvements can be made to help nurture your customer through their shopping experience.
- Think like your customer, not like a shopkeeper. Make your guide questions like “How does our customer shop for this category of merchandise?” Example: Many people shop for colored stone jewelry by color more than exact stone type. They may say sapphire but what they often want is blue. Put all your blue palette merchandise together in a single area. You’ll find customers opting for a Tanzanite when they came in looking for Sapphire.
- Organize your Bridal merchandise by style of ring, not by vendor. Except for a few brands of highly promoted Bridal merchandise, most brands mean nothing to your customer. (You don’t organize your clothes closet at home by the store from which you got the item, you likely have the closet arranged by the sequence in which you dress each day) Organize your Bridal merchandise by style of ring regardless of where you got the individual ring.
- Get rid of all the distractions and clutter in the store and in the showcases- You know the stuff. The plaque you got in 1998 from the Chamber of Commerce, the rack with free handouts from the local high school on the top of the counter, the acrylic top of counter unit (with the earrings that don’t sell) that blocks the light in the case below it. Take the cluttering trim out of the showcases. Less is much more. The jewelry is the star of the case. Don’t hide it with plastic flowers or ceramic angels. Think clear, uncluttered, open, inviting and organized.
- Organize each showcase in the store to match how your staff sells… after you have coordinated your sales teams approach. Your showcases are a “workbench” for the sales team. They need to be organized to match the teams sales procedure. Since the case can only be organized in a single way, your sales team needs to follow a “generally similar” approach in their sales presentation. Example: If one of your Bridal sales team starts each of their sales presentations with the diamond, while another talks price or date the ring is needed, your showcase will never work right. Get your team on the same sequence of sales and then organize your case layout to support that presentation
- Get rid of signs in both the store and cases that do not say anything useful. My favorite is “We offer financing from XYZ Financing Company”, who doesn’t? Replace it with a sign that tells your customer what they really want to know, “If I buy this ring for $7000, what will my monthly payments be?” Make the sign match the price points in the showcase. Pick a term timeframe like 18 months and leave off the pennies. Put a sign in each showcase to answer this often unasked question.
Making a customer-centric store begins with an analytic review of the questions and comments you hear from your clients. Anytime you hear a customer ask “where, how, why or do you….” it should prompt you to modify your store’s presentation to answer such questions without being asked. Your customer will feel more comfortable, informed and vested in the decisions they make in your store. They will reward you for your efforts to make the store a great place to shop with their repeated purchases. I have seen it happen in countless of my clients stores.
If you’d like help achieving these changes, send me a few images of your showcases and store interior for a free critique. No obligation or cost. You might just be pleasantly surprised with the result. I’m sure your customers will notice. Larry@LarryJohnsonConsulting.com