Blogs > Getting to Know Your Customers
March 20, 2015 Michael Bickerton
Running a retail store is a lot of work, but it is also a great place where you can get to know your customers. Running a retail store gives you the chance to encounter an array of people, from easygoing shoppers who love to small talk, to customers who are on a mission to track down a particular item and jet out of the store. Retailers encounter these people on a daily basis, and we need to be aware of who is who.
As any good retailer knows, there isn’t any single way to convert every type of customer. Each type comes with its own set of qualities, and we as retailers have to acknowledge these qualities and tailor their shopping experience accordingly.
In this article, I’ll outline seven different types of retail customers that you may or may not have encountered while running your small business.
You might find that many of your customers or potential customers may fall under this category; it’s definitely not a bad thing! Nowadays, consumers are researching products and services before they make a committed purchase, and that’s all right. Consumers want to be able to have a conversation with you that will enable them to ask all the right questions and receive all the right answers to those questions. Knowledge, to consumers, is the power to get the best product for their dollar.
The key to making contact with these customers is to connect with them while they are still in their research phase. Make your product and service available on social media channels, mobile and web. This ensures that they will keep your brand in their mind while shopping around.
Another thing you must do as a retailer, is make sure that your customers have access to information on your product, store or service. Whether it is on the phone, or through the web, make sure that you are leaving a great impression by offering some compelling content that will provide them with a great user experience.
Make sure that your presence is known in the social media community. This means regularly updating your accounts on Twitter, Facebook, even sites on sites like Yelp (and many others like it) and if you have negative reviews, make sure that you are addressing them immediately! Don’t ignore the problem, fix it. You might even have a chance to turn it into something positive.
To approach the well informed, you must first acknowledge their expertise on your product, and listen to what they have to say. Proceed to ask them questions when they are done, and offer up any additional information they may not have uncovered while they were researching. This will leave them feeling informed about your product or service, and a positive experience with your brand.
These customers like to try on or check out products in person, but they usually decide to purchase them online, if they can find a better price. These types of customers can usually be found using price comparison apps, scanning your products while browsing in store, or even inquiring about upcoming promotions and sales.
Larger retailers can deal with this by matching their competitors’ prices. Retailers like Walmart and Best Buy have price-matching strategies to get people to purchase their products in-store. But what can you do as a small business owner? Highlight the benefits of purchasing your product today – from avoiding shipping fees to stressing the actual customer experience – there are various strategies available to retailers.
Have you ever walked up to a customer and said: “Hey, could I help you with anything?” Only to get a the usual response “Oh, I’m just looking around.” Well, truth is, these customers should be acknowledged, as if they are just browsing. Make sure that you always respond in a positive manner and make sure they feel welcomed while they are in your store. You could even casually mention an offer or promotion in the store. However, these customers prefer to browse your store alone.
These are among the easiest customers you’ll have to deal with at your store. These people already know what they want, and just want to get the item and leave. The best thing you can do to help these customers is to make sure their experience is efficient, friendly and easy. Give them answers, get them what they need, and get them on their way – they will appreciate the effort.
Often people who are confused and indecisive about a product don’t have enough information. They may feel a little too overwhelmed. Address this situation by figuring out what their needs are, and educate them on what they need to know.
It may be smart to ask some questions. Ask them what they are looking for and ask them if they understand specifics of what the product provides for them. If they are comparing two products, give them the pros and cons of each item and tailor your answers to their specific needs.
Your main goal with this type of shopper is to help and educate them. You don’t want to push them into something that you know isn’t right for them. Be upfront and honest. Your customer will appreciate the gesture, and you can use that a the start of a relationship, which is more valuable for retailers.
Perhaps one of the trickiest of the customers to deal with, as their preference is all about the cost of a product or service. As a retailer, stressing value over cost is vital. Explain why your product will save them money. Offer a product with a guarantee. Even if you don’t sell them something, see if you may collect information about them, so when there are sales and promotions, you can inform them and drive them to your store.
These types of customers love to strike up a conversation, but sometimes these customers may hinder you from completing other tasks or from talking to other customers.
If you encounter this type of customer (and you will!), take some time to listen to what they have to say and seem genuine about it. After all, they are still your customer. Once the person has perhaps become overly talkative, you may need to gently remind them that you need to get back to working. This in itself is a skill – there is many ways a retailer can do this politely and professionally.
Overall, the sales floor of a retailer can contain many types of shoppers, each with their own specific goals and requirements. As a retailer, learning to spot these customers, and tailoring your sales tactics appropriately is essential to successfully selling your brand. Now go get those shoppers!
Want to know your customers better? Read some Better Social Tips here!
Michael Bickerton, Raven5 Ltd. March 2015