The Art of Retail Convenience
Convenience stores are so named because shoppers don't have to go very far out of their way to grab a few quick essentials on the way home. In many cases, convenience stores charge more for items that could be purchased elsewhere, but consumers don't balk at the upcharge because they would rather pay a little more if it means not driving the extra miles to a larger store. Even if your business doesn't make its money from selling quick snacks and lottery tickets, it should still strive to be as convenient as possible.
Here are a few ways you can make the shopping experience easier for customers.
Focus on the customer's needs above your own
This point should be obvious, but according to a paper published in the MIT Sloan Management Review, many retailers put their own cost-saving measures ahead of customer convenience. For example, some retailers put out large displays that actually block the view of merchandise rather than promote it. Others put commonly purchased goods at the far end of the store to promote impulse shopping. This tactic might seem like a good idea, but more often than not, it is simply a barrier to convenience.
For instance, you might consider a large mirror to be a waste of valuable retail space. But if a customer has to walk across the entire store just to see what she would look like in a dress, she might just leave the item on the rack. All of Firefly's retail mirrors could help shoppers in your store make a purchase - and they fit nicely into most designs and themes.
The review further stated that most American consumers strongly desire to spend less time shopping and more time engaging in fulfilling activities at home. Your business can show customers that your respect and value their time by making the shopping experience as painless and quick as possible.
Millennials are one group of consumers that place a high value on free time. According to Bloomberg Business, millennials shop differently than previous generations. The generation has less money than its counterpart of twenty years ago, so millennials do a lot of research about a product before making a purchase. For retailers, this means it is important to provide as much information up front as possible, making it easier for consumers to find out what they want to know so they can make a purchasing decision more quickly. For instance, clothing merchants should consider having detailed photos and specifications about their products online, so shoppers can browse from home and then pick up the items in-store.
Convenience is ease of access
Shoppers new to your store will experience a brief moment of acclimation as they get used to the new surroundings. If a customer comes inside looking for a specific product, she will probably scan the entire establishment looking for the appropriate section. Irisys, a retail analytics company, said that this moment can often cause customers to look right past shopping carts and baskets. Then, you have a situation where a customer came into your store with a particular product in mind, went to seek that product, and then found herself without a basket. That's fine if the item they were looking for is small, but the lack of a basket prohibits any chance of further, spur-of-the-moment shopping.
This problem is easily combated by placing baskets throughout your store. Firefly's red shopping baskets are easily spotted, and as we've mentioned previously on the blog, warm colors promote action. If shoppers still aren't picking up the baskets themselves, try offering them to people holding three or more items. Frazzled customers will thank you for easing their cumbersome burden.
Shopping carts also play an interesting psychological role in the buying experience. The Consumerist reported that larger shopping carts actually encourage people to buy more products. Even if shoppers in your store don't typically buy pounds and pounds of merchandise the way they might in a grocery store, you can still benefit from having baskets or carts. The Consumerist said that the reason carts were invented at all was to increase the number of items a shopper would purchase.
Online carts aren't automatically convenient
In theory, just having a cart on your website should make your online shopping experience more convenient. In some ways it does, but not all online carts are equal. Inc. magazine reported that 67 percent of online shoppers simply abandon their carts and 97 percent of shoppers on mobile devices never make it through the checkout. The magazine said that there are a few simple changes retailers can make to their sites to encourage purchasing. For example, online shoppers tend not to want to make an account to be able to check out - conversions go up by 45 percent when there's the option to check out as a guest.
When discussing the topic of abandoned online carts, Business Insider said that these digitally dusty carts are not necessary a bad thing for retailers that exist offline. In many cases, shoppers researched products at home, put items in the online cart to remember them for later, and made the actual purchase in-store. Therefore, it's important that your site reflects the inventory you have available on-site.
If you don't sell products online, you can still take advantage of this concept by promoting specific products on your social media pages. Forbes reported that millennials not only like to engage with merchants on social media sites, they expect it. If you can provide information and feedback through your social media presence, consumers will not only feel more connected to your brand, they will be more likely to trust it. It's more comfortable for consumers to shop from a store that interacts with them than it is to buy from a silent, uncaring behemoth of a corporation.
Take a look at your store and think about the ways in which you can make it more convenient for shoppers. The easier the experience is, the more likely shoppers are to patronize your establishment.
Written for Fireflystoresolutions.com
Photo credit: raindroppe.deviantart.com