Enhancing Store Experience
on June 30, 2022
By Rob Baumhover, director of VGM Retail
This article was originally featured in HME Business.
As consumer behaviors continue to change, many predict and have seen that brick-and-mortar stores will remain an important avenue to engage consumers now and into the future, so how do you stand out among the competition?
There are three core elements in doing so:
- By providing a top-notch experience to your customers
- Using different means of messaging to not only let consumers know who you are but what services and products you offer
- Providing quality products and the means to purchase them the way they feel comfortable
In this article, we will dig into store experience. We’ll discuss the importance of having the right employees, well-trained employees, and how a showroom’s look and feel impacts the consumer’s experience.
What Is an Experience?
So, what’s an experience? An experience is the sum of everything one encounters during a visit. It’s the way the store looks, how it feels, how it smells, the interaction with the employees, and it’s even the process during the transaction. Keep in mind that if one is broken, it makes the customer's experience not great. So, what’s considered great? It’s when there’s a plan or a roadmap to every piece of the customer experience. When you are deliberate on how your space feels, on where items are placed, where your staff greets the customers, and what they’re going to say during that interaction, you can provide a great customer experience. The best of the best retailers don’t leave anything to chance; everything is by design.
Finding and Hiring the Right Employees
Employees are the face of your company. The way they interact and treat your guests is how your guests see your company. So, what can we do to make sure these employees follow our mission statement, but more importantly, make every customer feel like their being heard and we care?
We need to find and hire the right employees. Who should we be looking for and where can we find them? These employees should be caring, compassionate, friendly, and bring a background of working face-to-face with people (you can train them on selling DME).
So where do we find individuals like this? Honestly look for them throughout your daily routine, like when you go out shopping, go out to eat, and even going to the bank. Many individuals help and provide services to you. If they are good at what they do, slide them a business card and ask if they’re locked in where they are at.
Training the Right Employees
After you hire the right person, we need to have a plan on how we train our employees and be deliberate on what we train them on. Build out a training program that gives them the information they need. This can be written materials, videos, or an in-person demonstration. I’d then incorporate roleplaying with each of them for a couple of purposes:
So they know your expectations on where to first greet the customers and how you’d like them to move through the space as they help the customer, and
So you, the expert, can show them different scenarios that they will encounter when helping customers, giving them the confidence and experience when live bullets are coming at them.
The last piece of the training plan needs to be the follow-up. First, observe your employee’s interaction with your customers. This is a great way to give them instant feedback. I’d make sure to highlight both the good aspects of the interaction and the things you’d like them to improve on or fix. Second, check in with each employee at least quarterly to see what additional questions they have and provide information to help them.
Consumers are looking for places to shop that presents themselves as welcoming and set up where they can easily see and touch different items. Here are a few considerations when evaluating your store’s experience.
How does your store present itself when a customer walks in? Does it have warm and relaxing colors to set the tone right away?
Do your fixtures and displays fit with the colors and products? Nothing sticks out more, and not in a positive way, than old banged-up fixtures that don’t present the items on them in an eye-catching way.
Does your signage do one of two things: first, does it help direct customers to the area of the product(s) that they came in looking for? Secondly, is their signage that helps educate the customer once they find the items?
Does the store allow for all customers to easily move throughout the space? Create wider aisles with a limited number of boxed items stacked on the floor. Create room settings showing all the items one may need or want in one real-life scenario.
All of this can be achieved with a plan that you and your team create and draw out. Planning will allow you to create a space that not only you’ll be happy with, but so will your customers. Consumers tend to spend more time and money in places they feel welcome and comfortable being in, so by giving them what they are looking for, you win as well.
- business development
- human resources