Customer Loyalty in Small Businesses
Either you have to corner the market on unique goods and services or you need to create extra value for your customers…give them a good reason to do business with you.
If all customers are like me they’re doing business in the smaller more personal boutiques and shops. Why? It’s the personal service, the quality of product and the lack of long lines. Plus, an aging population of boomers and a growing population of young knowledgeable consumers will avoid any business that does not cater to their needs. Shown at left: Gourmet foods made in store and packaged with Designer Cello Bags from Nashville Wraps.
It’s all about the quality of products and the level of service. Most large chain stores have totally missed the boat on customer service. For example, it’s often hard to find any help at Target and they seem to be intent on trying to compete with the small shops. I think it is economically impossible for them to compete with small business for that reason. On the flip side, I love to go to Macy’s in Chicago (the old Marshal Fields store) because the level of service is as high as I’ve seen it anywhere. Most small businesses don’t compete directly with Macy’s so not to worry, just learn from their successes.
There are many advantages for small businesses in today’s retail market, from apparel to food and everything in between.
5 Tips to Create Customer Loyalty
1. Provide unique and desirable products. Hand crafted, home cooked, organic, farm based and Made in America are some of the categories that we see doing well. Make what you sell the best it can be. Savvy consumers are reading that “made in” label now more than ever!
2. Be convenient. Extend your hours and provide a web site for extended shopping and information. Tell your customers and potential customers who you are and what you are about. Tell/show them why they should patronize your business. Walgreens is probably the most successful pharmacy in America… their mandate is to be the “most convenient”.
3. Provide extra services to your customers. If you are in a gift related business, then consider providing gift wrapping services to your customers. I’m sure many of you do this already and are wondering who you can charge to recover the costs. We think you are more than recovering costs as you strengthen your customer base by offering additional services. Other small businesses have provided two levels of gift wrapping; one basic wrap for under a set amount, then a higher end wrap for larger purchases or special customers.
4. Create brand awareness. You can create brand awareness on every sale you make with the clever use of packaging. It can be as simple as a recycled bag, or as impressive as a reusable tote custom printed with your logo. Many of our customers use branded ribbon which is inexpensive and requires a very small investment. It doesn’t take a huge capital investment to brand your packaging.
5. Know your products. In today’s market we are selling to highly educated consumers who are using the internet to make informed purchasing decisions. If you are competing with internet companies, then your advantage is personal information and support. Also, your sales staff should be fountains of information regarding the merchandise, products and services that you provide.
There are many more ways to create customer loyalty and there are many experts in this field. My views are simply from my experience. It has served Nashville Wraps pretty well across the last 32 years. We will post more on this subject to help your business succeed.