Image begins with the customer’s first impression…
You can’t buy it, bottle it, sell it or acquire it. But you can build it and maintain it. Read on as we examine and re-think a few assumptions about building the image of a business. This is second in our series by Bill Sheldon on “Business 101” and is highly revelant to all businesses whether they rely on clicks or on bricks.
“If it’s not in the shop window or on the home page, the customer won’t know you have it.” FALSE
I’ve heard this phrase all too often over my 40 years of retail and design experience. Shoppers driving by will not see any one thing in a chaotic window; there’s no focus, no theme. No one has time to decipher a disorganized web site either. Time is at a premium, and walkers and browsers are not going to spend time studying your cluttered presentation in order to zero in on something specific. But walkers, riders and browsers alike can be enticed by windows that tell a changing story. So the solution is twofold: continual change and a unified theme.
Tell a story if you want to attract attention. Major retailers typically only have one item or one story per window or website! You live on repeat customers, so keep them engaged. Tell the ongoing story of your store with windows (or other media) that are continually transforming.
Make a seasonal plan. Set the dates for content to change; select the themes; plan for necessary staffing & display materials. This holiday, start with a snowman theme, then Santa, then villages or gift-wrapping. Basic foundation and background pieces will give your presentations visual impact.
ASSUMPTION 2 :
“Customers must see into my store from the windows.” False.
Have you ever heard anyone say, “I was driving/walking by and just happened to notice the exact color of gloves I am looking for 3 rows from the back of the store?” Again, the purpose of the window is to entice, to invite people to come in. Same concept for your digital media.
The background is important because it will make the window “pop” and will complete your story. Good lighting is part of a good window back-drop, so check the lights and leave them on late. You can’t even attract moths in the dark!
If lighting is a concern, choose a sheer, light backdrop that will allow light in. Another important point: Clean off those windows! Do not post signs, decals, or stickers; they go unread and add to visual clutter. And visual clutter takes the customers’ attention away from where you want it. The same concept applies to your website.
“Don’t underestimate the power your staff has in adding to or subtracting from your image.” TRUE.
The way they greet or don’t greet your customers (and of course their appearance) is crucial. Everyone entering your store should be greeted by a pleasant and professional salesperson. It’s a fact that greeting customers cuts down on shoplifting, because the customer knows you are aware of them. You want to create a pleasant experience, so staff your store with pleasant, appropriately attired salespeople. Invest in tees, aprons, or smocks – it may be just the thing to cement your image.
“Our transaction space (register desk) and back counter can double as our office.” NO, NO, NO. The transaction desk is your welcome center, your impulse sales area, not your office.
A back counter full of catalogs, mail, broken items and returns is a turn off! These areas are valuable retail real estate, so use them accordingly. The wall behind the counter is not for stock, it’s your showcase, so make it a part of the fabulous image you’re building.
“Our restroom is not really part of the store.” Hear the Buzzer sounding loudly, WRONG.
In most states, it’s the law that you provide a restroom for your customers. No more excuses; not the insurance excuse, or the employees-only excuse, or the out-of-order excuse. Half of the population, and likely half of your customers are over 45, so provide the facilities! It’s not a storeroom – make it beautiful and keep it clean. People will notice, believe me. And if it is not available or clean, they’ll notice that too. Create the image you want by creating the retail environment and experience you want to give your customers.
Turn your customers on – not off – to you and your wonderful store this season! Visit my website for more helpful hints. My consulting and design experience can help you get the image your store needs for a successful holiday season.
Bill’s Series “Business 101” is brought to you as a service by Nashville Wraps. Our philosopy is that if we can help you have stronger business, we all succeed together. Visit Bill’s website and drop him a note or leave a comment on this blog.
– R Meadows, Nashville Wraps