Customer Mailing List: Do you ask customers if they’d like to enter their e-mail address on a mailing list?
Don’t underestimate the importance of regular correspondence with customers. It’s not enough just to have a mailing list—you must continually use this resource and update it, providing your customers with meaningful information. At the cash/wrap, ask customers if they’re interested in joining your mailing list if they haven’t already.
Displays: Are they timely? Are they fun? Are they constantly changing?
If a display seems to be turning slowly and not generating a lot of interest, consider making some changes. Use creative signage to add interest, replace it with another display, couple it with faster turning products or move it to a different part of the store. Just make sure it’s eye-catching.
Fixtures: Do the fixtures showcase the merchandise?
The best fixtures highlight merchandise in a discreet way. Choose fixtures that are practical and durable, but won’t draw the attention away from the products with gimmicky colors or design.
Flooring: Does your floor help to guide customers through your store?
As flooring options become increasingly affordable, it’s easy for you to take full advantage of different flooring throughout your shop. Use hard surfaces in high-traffic areas and carpeting to add class to specific areas.
In-Store Graphics and Signage: Are your graphics and signs clear? Are they colorful? Do they have a theme?
Graphics and signage should never detract from or compete with the merchandise. Their goal should simply be to draw attention to various products, discounts and special offers. Make sure your signage communicates its message immediately. Customers won’t read a sign if they have to take the time to figure out its message.
Lighting: Is it appropriate for the merchandise? For the store’s image?
More than any other variable in retailing today, lighting can create or destroy a store’s competitive edge. Featured products should be highlighted to attract customer attention. Keep your store bright and airy, and make sure all areas are adequately lit—you don’t want any dark corners.
Location: Is your store in an appropriate location?
The three keys to success were once considered to be location, location and location. Today, location is only one consideration of many—but it’s still extremely important. Stores need to be located where the customers are, where they want to be, or where they’re willing to go. Make sure your shop’s location isn’t working against you.
Merchandise Mix: Is it clear who the “right” customer is?
At a glance, customers should know who the store is intending to attract: teenagers? working moms? young families? “empty nesters”? As you look at the merchandise assortment, do you get a sense of who the customer is?
Merchandise Selection: Is your product selection too broad?
It’s important to focus your product selection around customer needs—but many stores have a selection that’s far too broad. These retailers try too hard to be all things to all people and don’t concentrate enough on the customers they may really want or need to attract. Carry what your customers want, but don’t spread yourself too thin.
Music: Is there music playing? If so, is it being played for the customers…or for the staff?
Music is a great way to create an inviting atmosphere in your store. But be careful—music should always be selected to appeal to the customer, not the staff. Also, keep the music volume low—it should never intrude on conversation.
Name: Does your store’s name indicate what it sells?
Many retailers choose names that convey something about themselves rather than the store. These same retailers end up spending a lot of money later trying to inform customers about what kind of store they are and what products they offer. If your store’s name itself doesn’t identify your retail segment, consider adding a tagline. When customers hear your store’s name, you want them to immediately think of what you’re selling.
Parking: Is your parking lot clean and safe?
If your store’s parking area isn’t clean, safe and clearly marked, you may inadvertently discourage business. Consider the practicality of your parking lot for shoppers coming at night or in bad weather.
Quality: Is the value of your merchandise evident?
Never just assume that customers will be familiar with the quality of your merchandise. Post product guarantees at the cash/wrap or on your displays. Display quality assurances on hang tags. Learn about the products you sell, and use this information on the sales floor.
Smell: What does your store smell like?
Don’t ignore the role of scent in projecting an image. Think of how many stores you’ve entered that had unpleasant odors, or “pleasant” ones that were too strong. Remember how quickly you walked right back out? The first step to keeping your store free of offensive smells is to discover what it presently smells like. You may need to enlist a candid friend for this project, someone who is not in the store every day who actually can notice its fragrance. Then, decide what mild fragrance would enhance the atmosphere you are creating in your store.
Special Services: What kinds of “extras” does your store provide?
Many retailers provide special services but fail to communicate this to their customers. If you provide an extra service, make sure your customers know about it. Make signs and mention these services in your advertising.
Store Image: What is your store’s personality?
This is where the “theatre of retail” really comes into play. Is there a match between the look of your store, your merchandise mix, the music, the lighting, the signage and graphics: do all of these elements combine to tell your story to your very best customers? Is your store the one where they want to see and be seen?
Storefront: Is your storefront pleasant and appealing?
Always keep in mind that your storefront is the first impression your customers have of your store. Dated or hastily assembled displays, unkempt signs and dirty windows are inexcusable. These sorts of things do injustice to all the hard work that may have gone on inside the store. Make sure your storefront is inviting and pleasing to customers.
Windows: Are they compelling and inviting?
Are your windows clean and appropriately lit? Spotlights on window displays should be near the glass and angled onto the display. Some stores have window lighting that is set in on top of the display, casting unintentional shadows. How are yours?
Tally the Results. See How Customers See Your Store
Gather the individual Store Rating scorecards from your employees (without their names, if you wish). Then, transfer their grades for each item to the Tally Sheet. The Tally Sheet combines the grades into five major categories, each with a maximum point total of 20 points:
So, at a quick glance, you can tell which of these five major areas are your strengths (scores close to 20), and which ones need more work.
And best of all, any changes you make will all be done from the important shopper's perspective!