5 Ways Your Brick-and-Mortar Store Can Make a Better Impression on Customers
First impressions are more important than you realize. It’s said that people form their opinions about someone within 15 seconds of meeting them. If you’re opening a brick-and-mortar store, first impressions are vital.
Overall, competition in the retail sector is intense, but things are much tougher when opening a brick-and-mortar store. Consumers should be able to enter your store and feel totally comfortable. Otherwise, you’ll have a difficult time competing with more established organizations.
It all comes down to a stronger subconscious experience, which isn’t easy to master. Customers should want to revisit your store, even if they don’t understand why. These five tips can help you generate a better first impression with shoppers:
1. Keep it clean.
The very first impression of the store will be the outside of the building. If the parking lot is full of litter and the sidewalks are caked with dirt, you’ll be sending the message that you don’t care. Remember that the first encounter every consumer will have with your business will be the outside of your store. Pick up trash, pressure wash the sidewalks and the building, keep your store sign working and clean, wash your windows, and prune any plants.
The inside of the store should also be well organized and give the same clean, professional look as the outside. Make sure that you face the products on your shelves — this communicates a message of quality care and pristine service.
2. Look the part of a competent owner.
Many people will relate the success of a store with the success of the owner. You’re the face of the business, and you’re required to adopt a more professional look if you want to leave a great impression.
There are many things that go into improving your appearance as a competent owner. Start with your physical appearance. You want to be well-groomed with a nice smile. Your clothing should also be well-fitted and flattering.
Next, focus on your body language. Make eye contact with customers and smile, even if you don’t feel like it. Be aware of your posture, and encourage conversation. Remember, it’s about them, so focus and allow their story to take center stage.
3. Mingle with shoppers.
Now that you have your appearance dialed in, you should mingle with your customers. Ask if they’re finding everything they're looking for, and let them know who is in charge if they want to offer feedback.
Be present and involved in the store. It looks better for both your customers and your employees if you’re willing to do things like check out customers, stock shelves and hold the door.
4. Train your team.
It’s also important to get your staff on board with making a good impression. The best stores offer friendly, knowledgeable customer service. They greet customers when they walk through the door and are attentive when someone asks a question.
Training employees to be helpful and polite is important, but so is training them on how the store runs. It’s frustrating for customers when employees don’t know where to find things. Employees should either know where everything is or be able to direct customers to someone who does.
5. Be online.
About 85 percent of consumers search online when looking for a local business. What’s more, 50 percent of people who search for a service on their phone will visit a store within 24 hours. This shows that many of your customers’ first impressions will actually happen online.
Is your website up-to-date? Have you claimed your business on listing sites and filled in your hours and contact information? Have customers left reviews that encourage new customers?
It’s also important to be on social media, especially as a local business. You can show your support of local events and get more people from the community involved. Through this process, you’ll gain customers and create a stronger reputation for your brand.
Larry Alton is a freelance writer, whose work regularly appears in Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, Inc. and Adweek.