Winning the trust of your potential customers isn’t always easy. As an independent retailer you don’t have the ready-made reputation (good OR bad) that comes with a chain store. Building up a name for yourself locally can take time. Here are some pointers to get things moving…
Consumers do not like surprises. If you have a deal, be sure to present it in an open way and with no caveats or exemptions hidden in the fine print. These little surprises will sour your relationship with the customer and even if they don’t raise it as an issue with you, at very best they’ll feel cheated and have less trust for your business.
Chain stores and supermarkets have spoiled consumers who now expect your returns policy to extend far beyond their statutory rights. Many now believe that retailers are legally obliged to accept goods for return regardless of whether they were faulty or they just changed their mind about the colour. Do your best to offer a returns policy that competes with the larger organisations. Speak with your suppliers to get their support. Be clear about your policy and have it displayed regardless of your particular stance – if you have a generous policy it’s worth pointing it out to build confidence, and if you only offer the statutory minimum it’s still a good idea to have this outlined at the till point to avoid complications later on.
Be mindful of what is actually possible, and build in margins for error. Especially if there are other factors which are out of your control. Ultimately any issues caused by your supplier or courier etc will still be seen as a failure on your part.
Take advantage of any opportunities for training that are available and encourage your team to follow suit. Display your team’s achievements where the customer can see them.
As an independent retailer, some of the most powerful marketing available is word of mouth referral from your existing customers. And the best news is, it’s totally free. If you keep exceeding your customers’ expectations, they’ll keep feeding you new business. Unfortunately the opposite is true also, and sadly the power of disappointed customers exceeds that of even your strongest testimonial.
Use customer names wherever possible and if possible make recommendations based on the previous purchases made by your customers. This personal touch sets you aside from the chain store competitors. Make sure there are plenty of ways for your customers to let you know about their experience in your store. Use social media channels as well as more traditional approaches which could even include asking them face to face.
Recognise that your customers have a choice. It is likely that you have USPs and offer something that isn’t necessarily available two doors down, but it is unlikely you are the only option available to the customer. Be grateful for your customers and use every opportunity to show them you appreciate them coming to you.
Are there opportunities in your customers’ journey where your staff could use initiative to close the deal? On higher ticket items could they offer a small add-on that would seem like a completely bespoke offering tailored just to that customer, when in fact it is something available (but not publicized) to everyone? Within reason, empowering your team by trusting them to make decisions will be rewarded with a happier workforce and this will be recognised by your customers.
A clean, consistent branding to your store will add to your credibility and encourage confidence in your service and product offering. Ask someone with no bias or agenda to offer an honest opinion on your logo and signage. If you have a logo you're happy with, use it on everything from till receipts to carrier bags. If you don't have a logo or your logo doesn't do what you want from it, sorting this should be at the top of your list.