Making a Shop a Convenient Place for the Customer
According to NACS Speed Metrics Research in 2002, in an estimated time of 4 minutes, customers enter, buy, and leave the convenience store. It’s not even enough to look into the products and displays of the store. This statistics is limited to the convenience stores alone. The average time for the other retail stores will surely depend on the merchandise and audience. However, with the advent of technology, physical stores are now at risk since buying online offers less hassle. Now, this demands the question on how can you make your shop a convenient place for the customer? So, people will continue to visit despite the emergence of online stores.
What are the factors of convenience?
How do we consider that a shop is providing convenience for us? Here are some factors customers consider:
- The location of the shop. How much distance do I need to travel to get there? Is it situated near the other stores I need to visit? Is the location a safe place to be? Is there enough parking space?
- The employees of the shop. Are they knowledgeable enough about the products? Do they accommodate the visitors in a friendly way? Do they provide the necessary assistance for each customer?
- The assortment of products. Is the product I need always available? Is it easy to find in the store?
- The speed of checkout. How long do I need to wait to purchase what I need?
- The layout of the store. Is it not crowded? Can I navigate through the store with ease?
To simplify, the store must provide convenience when it comes to accessing, searching, purchasing, and transacting.
What makes the customers disappointed?
- Unavailable merchandise
- Long checkout lines
- Unfriendly/incompetent staff
- Congested parking space
- Cluttered product arrangement
- Crowded store space
- Unattractive shop fit out
- Minimal store assistance
- Pushy salespeople
- Unresolved customer problems
These are daily annoyances customers experience at almost all types of stores. These costs more loss than what the store managers think. From these horrible experiences, your frustrated customers will spread the word about your store. Word-of-mouth is powerful, it can either make your brand or break it.
How do customers define convenience?
The respondents of Discount Store News said in a focus group interview about store convenience, “…one-stop shopping, store directories, well laid-out and clearly-marked aisles, wider aisles, consistent in-stocks, clearly presented pricing, easy return policies, sufficient staffing, expanded 24-hour service, and efficient and centralized checkouts.” During the previous years, customers can leave a store empty-handed and check out the competitor’s store instead. Now, there are customers who don’t even bother to visit the physical store but check online stores instead for speed and ease.
How to provide a convenient shop for customers?
As what we have talked about in the first part of this article, accessibility of a lot of things provides convenience. Fast checkout counters, engaging salesperson, easy navigation inside the store, plenty of space for parking, long store hours, internet access, and functional store layout.
Keep a grand entrance.
Customers love promos, discounts, and freebies. The best place to promote these things is in the entrance – without blocking the walkway, of course. Let the customers see their favorite products on sale even before they enter the store. If this kind of design continues, the customers will be conditioned to glance at your store to check out the latest sale promos and discounts your store offers. If not, an eye-catching display will also do, especially one that goes well with the season.
Maintain a neat store.
If the surroundings of your store is not appealing, customers will not be drawn to purchase, not to mention even enter the shop. Designers stated that space equates luxury. Displaying one item in the center aisle connotes a specialised feel for it. Besides, customers have a lot of things going on in their busy schedules, a cluttered store will only make them more annoyed.
Arrange the products properly.
It is a basic knowledge to keep products in the same category near each other. Otherwise, have a sales person ready to assist whenever a customer finds it hard to look for a product. Did you know that according to one study in consumer shopping patterns, an average of 20 percent of merchandise is missed when aisles are long. So, the better way to arrange is to create breaks and breathing space. Also make sure, that by the end of each aisle, there is something interesting for the customers to check out.
Hire fast, friendly, and accommodating staff.
Bad manners can cost you a lot. As previously mentioned, it will not only be one lost sale but also subsequent decrease of sales as customers spread the news about their experience with you. A reliable sales person can offset the flaws inside the store since he/she can provide the necessary human touch people are looking for when shopping. It is easier to talk to a trusted personnel rather than to scour the whole store for the right merchandise.
Have a proper shop fit out.
To achieve a desirable store layout and design, leave it to the experts. Proper shopfitting can go a long way for businesses. Not only it will provide the appropriate design for the store, but also give functionality for the employees and customers.
What will happen if you don’t provide store convenience?
Almost 17 years ago, Kurt Salmon Associates conducted a survey, the result is that half (56%) of the customers/respondents said that they have lesser leisure time than in the previous years. To this day, with the changes in technology, economics, and lifestyle, people have their hands full that buying something can simply mean tapping on their handheld devices. This lessens the hassle in their daily struggles. Not that it can be less costly, but also saves time and effort. Technology is surely changing the customer shopping experience. If physical stores are not improved, then perhaps it is likely that consumers will opt for the easier and faster way to transact.