Having trouble differentiating your store from the local competition? Or perhaps your customers are shameless online shoppers who ask you to do the dirty work? Here’s nine timeless retail basics that will help your speciality bike shop differentiate itself from both online and brick-n-mortar competition!
Store Entrance – first impressions are vitally important, and the front entrance of your store is what shoppers see first. Your doors and front windows should be cleaned daily, well lit and not cluttered with stickers, decals or signs. I cringe when I see an “Open” sign in the front door of a bike shop – and the only exception to this rule is a neat “opening hours” sign or decal near the front entrance so shoppers can see what your hours are on a daily basis. This information should also be prominently posted on your web site. Your store entrance is there to make shoppers feel welcome!
Greeting – every shopper that enters your store should be greeted seconds later! A pleasant, cheerful and genuine greeting is so important that we recommend a greeter on busy days and during peak hours. The stories we have often told about bike shops that “bake” chocolate chip cookies or pop pop-corn every afternoon are spot-on! Your stores greeting, weather verbal or sensory is vital to making shoppers feel both welcome and comfortable!
Smile – a genuine smile on the face of every employee, starting with the person that greets a shopper is all about making shoppers feel welcome and comfortable so they not only enjoy being in your store shopping, but stay longer, and shop more! We also call this being “sticky”! It is amazing how many bike shops don’t comprehend the importance of a real smile on the face of each and every-one of their employees – and the power of the connection with the shopper a smile helps foster.
Ask questions – express your interest in each individual shopper, and asking intelligent questions helps you and your shop employees gather information about the individual’s bicycle and bicycling wants and needs. The key is asking in a casual way and explaining why you are asking – “I am asking if you would like to cycle more so I can make some suggestions about how you might be able to achieve that.”
Make suggestions – after you have asked enough questions to formulate a cycling lifestyle solution, make low key suggestions about the products and services that, in your expert opinion, will be best suited for the individual shopper’s wants and needs. Some of your suggestions will be rejected, but that’s part of the suggestive selling process, and simply leads to alternative suggestions as you and the shopper create the solution or solutions that are best suited to the individual you are serving. Suggestive selling isn’t possible without first having made the shopper comfortable in your store and with you and your staff’s expertise.
Name tags – like a genuine smile are often overlooked by bike shops. The connection that leads to the trust of suggestive selling is both easier and facilitated by you and your sales staff wearing name tags! You should of course introduce yourself – but a name tag that is large enough to be legible by folks wearing bifocals and trifocals makes it easy for shoppers to remember your name and make the connection that leads to conversion. A mutually satisfying experience and conversion (the sale)!
Signs – sell! It’s that simple – signs, when well thought out and employed wisely in a retail store enhance the discovery experience that makes shoppers more comfortable and helps educate. Digital signs have added to the ability for your displays to interrupt and engage shopper’s on their journey through your shop. A few well written signs will educate and inform as a part of the overall shopping experience.
Recovery and keep it clean – because shoppers will not spend time discovering your merchandise if the clothing isn’t neatly folded, the displays dusted and the carpet clean. Pay special attention to your fitting rooms and rest rooms and make sure you and your staff are assigned to perform recovery of displays, restocking of shelves and cleaning of bathrooms, fitting rooms, floors, windows and all glass and mirrored surfaces!
Follow Up – with shoppers who didn’t buy and customers who did! Start with making sure you have installed in your operations and procedures the collection of shopper and customer contact information. Build into your daily responsibilities staff outreach to shoppers and customers in the form of old-fashioned postcards and flyers, as well as E-mails and Tweets! Don’t overlook the relationship building power and positive word of mouth you can generate by a simple “Thank You” from the owner to a shopper that stopped by – or a customer who made a purchase!
These nine basics of good retailing aren’t high tech, but they are proven sales and profit builders for successful retailers and won’t go out of date. Each will help you differentiate your specialty bike shop brand from your competition.