In an age of digital consumerism, brick and mortar businesses need to go the extra mile to stand out and compete. In February, e-commerce sales led U.S retail market share for the first time, according to the Commerce Department. Meanwhile, brick and mortar sales continue to slow, growing just 3.7 percent compared to e-commerce’s 15 percent in 2018. Since the growth of physical retail has slowed, business owners are facing added challenges in capturing the interests of customers, and making a good impression in business has become even more crucial to achieving this. According to research, businesses have up to 7 seconds to make a good first impression on customers, and in some cases, even less. Just as it is important for entrepreneurs to make good impressions, customers’ initial thoughts of your business property can set the tone for the entire customer-business relationship.
First Impressions Impact On Business Operations
Within seconds of entering a business premises, customers have formed a personal opinion. It is the first point of contact with the customer, and the business’ first chance to get its sales pitch and information across. The impression given by a brick and mortar store does not just apply to those who enter the shop as customers, but also to surrounding shoppers who view the space, and those who may enter to simply browse. Making a good impression on them can result in two benefits for the business: it can secure repeat visits from impressed customers, and it can secure more first time customers through in-person feedback and referrals.
This applies to the online dynamic of the business as well. Customers impressed in-store often head online and leave reviews which are accessed by millions of shoppers in multiple target markets. Based on results from a Brightlocal survey, 60 percent of shoppers check Google My Business for reviews on local businesses, and 57 percent of them admit they will only consider a company with a 4-star rating or higher. So, in fact, making a good impression on a customer instore can mean boosting sales instore and online. A good impression made by a bricks and mortar establishment can also be the link that creates a synonymous brand for the business.
Start With The Basics: Good Maintenance
Many business owners underestimate the power of simple storefront maintenance for customers. Making sure the store is looking its best gives you a great canvas to start with, and it is a great tip for all businesses, even the cash strapped ones. Start with store cleanliness and organization. Retail store cleanliness ranks highly for shoppers, according to Consumer Reports. This includes making sure restrooms are clean, fresh and fully stocked, along with the store floors and entrances being polished and regularly cleaned. Don’t forget to pay attention to the exterior of the property either. Well maintained exterior spaces boost positive opinion, since they are the first glimpse of your business that customers get. Customers appreciate clean and well-maintained garages, while a well-lit exterior can boost customer security. That feeling of security for customers further fuels a positive impression. Finally, ensure access to the store is unencumbered, and any elevators are regularly maintained and in working order,
Consistency Is Key
Giving a good impression is all about translating a message. Therefore, you want to establish a consistent message and image, which you want to get across to the consumers from the time they first view your store. This is where visual design and signage comes in. Your store’s signage is one of the first things customers notice, so be sure to prioritize this aspect, and also remember to translate this to your website as well. Consider your brand when designing your signage and choosing signature colors. This makes your brand easily identifiable. Pay attention to your storefront display as well, and have a standard rota for reorganization or new displays to keep customers’ interests.
Remember Good Impressions Are Not Just Visual: Interaction Is Important Too
However, keep in mind that while maintaining a good outward store appearance is important, your customer service is also a key part of a good impression on customers. Therefore, establish an appropriate store uniform to aid branding and consistency. Employee training surrounding customer interaction, particularly greeting and handling of customer displeasure should also be included. Your employees and the customer service they provide all feed into customers’ impression of your business. According to Dimensional Research, 59 percent of customers won’t return after poor customer service, and 95 percent of them share bad experiences with others.
For any business to compete effectively, appearance is important. This is particularly applicable in the brick and mortar world of retail, where our purchase decisions and interests are more visually led. Therefore making the investment into creating a good first impression is bound to reap you great rewards, both with your current customers, and in attracting new ones.
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