On its surface, shopping appears to be a perfunctory, repetitive routine that fills a need. Certain stores meet this expectation. If I am shopping at a mass merchandise store—inconvenient to get to, time-consuming to find the items I want, possible delays at the checkouts—I do not expect to enjoy myself. What do customers expect when they shop in your store?

By paying attention to the things you can control, you can elevate the routine of shopping into a pleasant, even enjoyable, experience. At the very least, you can endeavor never to repel your customers.

Here are a few tips:
1. Outside. What does your storefront look like? When was the last time you cleaned and changed your window displays? A little creativity here can set the tone for a fun shopping experience inside.

2. Entryway. What is the first thing your shoppers see—or bump into—as they enter your store? It is a good idea to “unclutter” your entryway, ideally leaving eight feet of open space before shoppers run into displays or other objects. Let your customers decompress and they’ll be in a more conducive mood to linger and spend.

3. Shelving. Are your shelves fronted when your doors open? It’s a good idea to have your closing shift face and dust the shelves at night as part of the closing routine. Make sure you eliminate the “holes” where product should be, but for whatever reason aren’t. If you’ve got a lot of these “missing teeth” around your store, consider eliminating an entire shelf or gondola to snug-up the presentation. An added benefit is you can widen your aisles, making shopping more relaxing.

4. Refrigeration. One of my pet peeves is burned out light bulbs in the freezers and coolers. Nothing says, “I’m going out of business” better than this. Also, are you regularly cleaning the glass doors and refreshing the signage and shelf talkers so that your presentation looks fresh and intentional?

5. People. With the products you carry popping up everywhere else, one of your remaining powerful advantages is your people. Do you train your staff and “model” the customer service behavior you expect them to deliver?

Take a look with fresh eyes around your entire store for the little improvements you can make, including the bathrooms, to increase the chances your customers will want to come back. WF

Published in WholeFoods Magazine April 2016
Tip of the Month
Jay Jacobowitz is president and founder of Retail Insights®, a professional consulting service for natural products retailers established in 1998, and creator of Natural Insights for Well Being®, a comprehensive marketing service designed especially for independent natural products retailers. With 39 years of wholesale and retail industry experience, Jay has assisted in developing over 1,000 successful natural products retail stores in the U.S. and abroad. Jay is a popular author, educator, and speaker, and is the merchandising editor of WholeFoods Magazine, for which he writes Merchandising Insights and Tip of the Month. Jay also serves the Natural Products Association in several capacities. He can be reached at (800)328-0855 or via e-mail at jay@retailinsights.com.



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