“The giddy days of the ’80s, when people would go to the mall to just shop, are long over,” wrote Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor in a Retail Roundup he released earlier this month.
“You can’t afford to let people walk through your store in an economy like we have now and not go out of your way to positively interact with them,” he wrote. “Customers in your store are searching for a solution. If they don’t get it there; they’ll get it online. Customers never forget the way you make them feel.”
Phibbs goes on to tell the story of walking into a Banana Republic looking for a sweater. He tired on several while four clerks stood at the counter discussing how dead the store was, their schedules, etc.
No clerk asked him what he was looking for or dashed around the store to get him more sweaters to try on. No clerk did anything for him, so he bought a sweater someplace else.
Message to retailers: Teach your employees to interact with customers, to help customers. If a customer wants something specific and an employee asks enough questions then hustles to bring merchandise to the customer, chances of a sale are high.
And, as Phibbs says, in the case of customers who are looking for something but not yet ready to buy, retailers must consider them potential buyers. “Don’t ignore them,” he says. “Make sure you have something to give them to remember you by” — a free gift, a guide on buying tips, a measuring tape with your store’s logo on it.
People may not be shopping to pass the time these days, but they do need to make purchases from time to time. If they come into your store, treat them as if they are going to buy, and maybe they will.