People are not buying the same way they did three years ago. People are thinking and buying “inexpensive” far more often. Scott recommended a few tactics to take advantage of it:
- Emphasize repairs
- Provide add-on value such as personalization
- Sell or include service plans
Scott divides retail into nine segments: three categories, each with three price points. There are traditional, contemporary, and hi-tech/funky retailers, and they can be cheap, moderate or expensive. Key point: make sure the appearance of your retail business gives the same impression that you intended and that matches your prices.
External selling space
This is your outside: your sidewalk, facade, sign and windows.
|Draw customers inside
If you park in the back of your business, make sure you walk out front every single morning and check your sidewalk and foyer. Clean up and sweep as necessary every day.
Improve your signage. Good signs can measurably boost sales. And you should measure before and after, when you invest in a sign.
Awnings can be great, or can easily look dirty. If you are installing awnings, Scott recommended avoiding barrel or vaulted awnings. Also, stripes hide streaks (from drips, runoff, etc.) better than solid colors. Awnings are washable, too, something many retailers never do.
Scott said no retailer should need a neon open sign. It should be obvious when you are open. You might open the front door or set out special exterior displays to make it obvious.
Your front door conveys an important message to your customers. Tape nothing to your front door. Nothing. Find another place to put signs and community flyers. Upgrade your hand-printed hours signs. Using a computer, you can easily make something with polish and a bit of personality.
Clean first impressions:
- Entryway is swept and washed
- Windows are washed once per week
- Windows are free of scotch tape
- Windows have only the store’s name and hours
- Interior of the display window is vacuumed
|Window displays in Traverse City, MI
“Window displays are always mentioned by merchants as their best form of advertising,” Scott said. “They form the customer’s first impression of your business.”
Dirty windows discount the value of your business. One drug store Scott mentioned would wash their windows daily. The owner said that customers who saw dirty windows would wonder about the cleanliness of his drug counter.
Think of window displays as display ads: don’t over-clutter them like supermarket specials. Instead, create something that can motivate customers in less than 3 seconds.
A good window display:
- can be seen from across the street
- takes less than an hour to do
- encourages the customer to make the effort to cross the street
- and sells merchandise.
Good attention getters in window displays:
- Floating or suspended objects
- Changes in light or color
- Personification, where the merchandise takes on human qualities
Small items can be lost in big window displays. Upsize them with photo blow-ups. Small items carry more weight as repeated or stacks of items.
|A bad case of window glare.
Front window glare can keep anyone from seeing your amazing displays. To break the glare, set items back from the glass, light them well, and bounce light out the window. Halogen spot lights aren’t much on energy efficiency, but they do a great job lighting items in the window.
Cooperate with another store in town to cross-merchandise. Put their items in your windows and vice versa. One kids clothing store borrowed some used tires for a striking window display.
Continue reading Part 2 – including inventory control and interior tips.
- About the Author
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.