Consumers want to feel a connection with the businesses that they patronize, and encouraging engagement online is a fantastic way to accomplish this. However, when you’re running a brick and mortar store, you’re competing with online retailers that may be lower in price and more convenient for your customer base. Utilizing engagement strategies in your store gives you a leg up, providing consumers with the connection they want, and an experience they can’t get elsewhere.
Host customer events and workshops
You want feedback on your store and to get to know your customers better, but your clientele rarely takes advantage of the feedback setup you have near the cash register. A customer event, complete with activities and maybe some light refreshments, gives you an opportunity to talk with customers face to face, learning what they like, what they want to see more of, and how you can improve, all while getting them more involved in your business. Some examples of events include:
- salons offering classes on how to recreate trendy hairstyles
- toy stores organizing craft workshops for parents and kids
- boutiques setting up fashion shows
- restaurants hosting cooking classes on popular dishes
Add personal touches to elevate customers’ shopping experiences
Go above and beyond and incorporate a few things in your store that your core demographic will find appealing. For example, if you cater to families, add a small nook with some toddler-size seats, easy to disinfect toys, and a few books. Depending on your customer base and business, consider setting up a coffee bar, adding a gift wrapping station, creating a chalkboard wall for customers to leave notes or pictures, incorporating a center for people to charge their devices, or laying out water bowls and dog treats in a pet friendly store. All of these give customers that extra touch they can’t get online, and work to keep them in your store for longer periods of time.
Set up information centers
Keep customers’ phones in their pockets by setting up displays with information on the questions you’re asked most frequently, or those that you know will help people make a buying decision. A few examples include a:
- local grocery store featuring a large sign in the produce section detailing the difference in flavor and texture of every apple variety carried
- hardware store putting out signage that briefly describes the pros and cons of different types of grout
- salon posting hair color charts in the lobby
- car parts store setting up a kiosk that outlines the ideal filter and oil for every model of car
Create a welcoming customer experience
There are only a few reasons customers choose to walk into a store instead of opting for the convenience of shopping online: a deal they can’t pass up, an immediate need for a product that even Amazon can’t get to them on time, and a desire for a friendly face while they shop. As a brick and mortar business, you can’t always offer the best deal, and you have no control over how quickly someone needs a product. That leaves you with giving everyone who walks into your store unparalleled customer service. Start simple: have employees greet customers as they walk in, without pushing a sale; ensure everyone on staff is well-versed on the products carried so they can answer questions; and train staff to always focus on what will best help the customer, not any particular item you need to move.
These small touches, from creating elevated shopping experiences to pushing your customer service to the next level, cost relatively little, but they make the customer feel like you’re looking out for them. And that’s exactly the push today’s consumers need to choose you over your competitors.