Interesting conversation taking place on linkedin.com this morning surrounding the number one way to increase bottom line profits.
Most of the chatter has been about operational efficiencies, something I’ve learned so many entrepreneurial retailers are adept at.
A couple areas they aren’t so adept at: customer service and increasing sales.
As I set out yesterday to do some research for a column I’m writing for photography retailers, I spent about 15 minutes in each of three photography stores stores and not one of the 14 combined employees said ‘hi”, let alone came to help me.
For that reason, I strongly continue to believe that intercepting and interacting with customers to increase the average transaction is critical to achieving a successful bottom line. As the saying goes, “You can’t save your way to prosperity.” While being mindful of running an efficient operation with a great merchandising strategy, that doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have a staff that is able to engage and actually sell to the customer. I advise clients to do the following to achieve engaging interactions:
Greeting – we all know that a genuine hello is a rarity in retail today, so welcome customers to your store with a genuine greeting
Engage – “Can I help you find something” is a throwaway. Strike up a conversation and build a relationship with the customer.
Uncover the customer’s needs – what are they really looking for, and how can an employee help find a solution
Add on – now that the customer has the sweater, add on a pair of jeans, some jewelry, a belt. Most retailers only sell a customer what a customer wants to buy. Retail is selling and suggestive selling can increase the average transaction significantly
Lasting impression – That customer’s last thought when they walk out the door is going to determine how soon (or if) they return. How are you making it memorable?
This is retail 101 stuff. But the retail operation equation can be solved by someone who knows how to run it effectively, thus creating maximum profitability. It’s the human element and the subjectivity of dealing with that element that truly differentiates a retail experience. At the end of the day, it’s the store staff that is going to help make the retailer more profitable.