Braintrust Query: Four Ways Smaller Stores Can Create Deeper Customer Connections
Doron Levy, president, Captus Business Consulting
is a great advantage. A small retailer has the ability to develop stronger
and more loyal customer relationships. The reality is that merchants aren’t
doing enough to create and maintain customer relationships.
smaller stores don’t have behavior and shopping habit data in real time at
their disposal. And they don’t have a high tech loyalty program complete
with key ring cards. And maybe they haven’t had time to set up (or afford)
okay. They don’t need it. That stuff just complicates the issue. Smaller
stores can sell more products by appreciating and embracing the customer.
The big guys forgot long ago how to take care of their customer.
are my top four ways retailers can connect to their customer on a deeper
Localize merchandise selections: Take
a detailed look at the selling area. Are there cultural- or community-specific
goods or services that the store should be carrying? If consumables, including
apparel, are being sold, they must be aware of the wants and needs of their
immediate selling area.
Create a culture of service: Monkey
see, monkey do has never been more true than in the retail industry. If small
stores want their team to provide the best possible service to their customer,
they have to see the owner doing the same. (This note goes out to the owner
of the baby supply store that yelled at the pregnant mother in front of my
pregnant wife and my youngest daughter! True story.)
Have a rewards program!: Sure,
they don’t have access to millions of dollars worth of computer applications
but the best rewards program I have ever seen is at a local pizza place
called Toninos. A simple card with 10 spots. You buy 10 slices, get 10 punches
and you get a free slice. Nothing fancy. No mailers. No points redemption.
No tiered promos. Just a simple thank you for doing business with us. Stores
should cconsider some sort of extended value to their most loyal customers.
Stay connected to your customer: Merchants want to maintain communication
with their customers inside and outside the store. The two cheapest ways
to stay connected are through the internet and through the community. Customers
are interested in a store’s web presence. Stores should utilize all the social
networking and communication tools available to stay connected to their customers.
Monthly newsletters, special online promotions, tweeting and Facebook fan
pages provide value. Stores should also look to play a leading role in their
community. They don’t have to give the store away but maintaining a presence
at community events is a great way to connect with their specific customer.
Valuable insight can be gained and localization programs optimized by linking
to community leaders and functions.
How can smaller stores connect with local customers in ways that big
boxes can’t? What do you think of the suggestions mentioned in the