by Larissa Gutscher

Retail is a fickle industry, especially when you’re a small business. On one hand, you could be competing in an industry with some giant players, like fashion or electronics, while on the other extreme, your offering could be so unique that only a handful of people need it. No matter the product or the size of your company, it’s impossible to be successful in retail with unhappy customers. We’ve compiled the key aspects of your business to focus on to ensure your customers get the best possible experience in your store.

1. Train your staff well.

Nowadays it is easier than ever for a shopper to get informed about a product they want to buy. In fact, it’s not uncommon to find someone comparing prices on their phone while shopping in-store. When someone buys a product online, it is often accompanied with a description, ratings, and reviews that help buyers make informed decisions. And while seeing a physical product has its own advantages, in-store shoppers aren’t immediately provided any additional information about whatever they’re thinking of buying.

Improve Retail Customer Experience

Make your staff more valuable than your customer’s phone.

This is where well-trained staff come in. Employees need to be ready to answer any question, provide suggestions, and simply know the key aspects of the products they sell. Shoppers may be able to browse the customer questions and answers when they’re buying online, but in-store they have the advantage of having their questions answered immediately – but only if the employee they’re talking to knows what they’re selling.

2. Keep your staff happy.

Retail is a hard job. Coming into contact with a wide variety of people for hours on end every day takes a toll, and having to answer the same questions or hear the same jokes repeatedly can be frustrating. If a worker feels no compassion for their employer and sees no reason to support them, why would this employee make the effort to please difficult customers?

Companies therefore need to give their employees incentive to stay positive and keep selling. Studies have shown that constantly hiring new staff and having to re-train them is costlier than retaining hard-working staff who provide great customer service. While a decent wage and other monetary benefits are always good motivators, it’s important to make employees feel like more than employees – and this can be achieved through other methods like team-building exercises, volunteer excursions, and company parties. Once staff feel they are a big part of the company and keep its best interests at heart, it becomes easier to focus on pleasing customers.

3. Maintain the right ambience.

Your store should reflect your brand. It’s easy to say that shops should always be clean and products should be easy to find, but everything you do in your store should be in keeping with the image you want to project. Maybe using only a black light and neon signs to light your store would not be an effective solution for someone selling nuts and bolts, but if your products are black t-shirts with bright logos, this could be a great way to highlight what you’re offering.

While bright and airy spaces may be considered a more ideal shopping environment, sometimes this kind of ambience just doesn’t match what you’re selling. Create a unique experience for your customers so that your brand stands out in their minds.

Improve Retail Customer Experience

4. Provide consistent service.

If you really want to give your customers a great experience, make sure it’s great every time they interact with you. Ensure all your staff give helpful advice. Keep the same ambience at all of your locations. Stay on top of your stock so you always have something to offer.

Your customers should know what to expect every time they buy from your company. If you don’t meet their expectations, it will negatively impact their overall experience. On the occasions when you do slip up, be sure to go above and beyond to make it up for your customers so that they know you are trustworthy and reliable.

5. Show appreciation for your customers.

Your retail business wouldn’t exist without your customers. In a very competitive industry, it’s easy for them to go to someone else if they don’t feel they are valued for their patronage. That’s why it’s important to show your customers how much they mean to you – whether it’s through something as simple as regular promotions or sales, or something a little more intimate like an invite-only event.

Improve Retail Customer Experience

Champagne, anyone? Even small gestures can make your customers feel appreciated.

Give your customer ways to stay in touch with you beyond just your interactions in the store. Set up a mailing list and stay active on social media. Utilizing multiple outlets of communication also makes it easier and faster to respond to customer comments and complaints.

6. Embrace the omnichannel.

Omnichannel retailing isn’t just for big companies. While it may not be feasible to create an interactive app to use in your shop, you can still communicate with your customers across different platforms to ensure they’re getting a great experience. If you have an online shop, offer in-store pickup for customers who don’t want to pay extra for delivery. Create a contest that allows your customers to have multiple entries by entering in person or via social media. Invest in a comprehensive point of sale system that allows you to track your stock live, so you can quickly order an item if a shopper can’t find it in your store.

Your customers are an important part of your business, and it’s time to treat them as such! By implementing these simple steps, you can ensure an excellent customer experience every time someone has the pleasure of shopping at your store.

Check out: How Restaurants are Improving Tech to Improve the Customer Experience and Everything is Connected with Omnichannel Retailing