Retailers could be in for a hard time this holiday season. According to Morgan Stanley, the American consumer is showing signs of being spent out and fatigued with uncertainty.
Regardless of the holiday season predictions, retailers must be on top of their game. They are all experiencing intense competition for the consumer, shrinking margins and a shopping season that's five days shorter. Consumers will not tolerate sloppy sales approaches and a poor experience. If retailers want to be effective this holiday season, they must vow to serve the customer with these 10 retail commandments.
1. Thou shalt not believe anyone is “just looking." A customer can “just look” on their tablets, smartphones and home computer. Disregard this idea that any buyer is just looking and respond with: “90 percent of the people that come here start off by having a look. Why did you come today?" Show them specials, updates and other inventory choices that may not appear on your website.
2. Thou shalt never ignore the customer. They come to buy. Don't make them hunt for a sales associate. It is better to pester a customer with offers of help than it is to ignore. Seems pretty basic, but how many times have you seen sales associates congregating at a register or zoned-out folding a pile of shirts?
3. Thou shalt aggressively sell. In highly competitive times, set higher sales targets. Selling beyond ordinary expected levels requires a commitment to aggressively selling to every customer and making the most of every opportunity. Begin with a team meeting that sets targets and objectives. Then provide the tools to accomplish them.
4. Thou shalt never let the customer wait. When customers wait they become agitated, restless and uncertain. No customer should have to wait for anything. If your payment system is not efficient, you put the entire sale at risk. Make sure you sales process is fast, friendly and easy to move through. Waiting for an open cash register should be a thing of the past with card readers and swipers.
5. Thou shalt treat every buyer like they came to spend money. Don't qualify the customer's ability to make a purchase. Treat anyone who enters your store as if they have money to spend regardless of what they say or how they act.
6. Thou shalt greet every customer at the front door. I once went to a major retailer and it took over 17 minutes before being acknowledged. Appoint a greeter who makes the customers feel welcomed and directs them to the department they need. "Thanks for coming. What can I help you with or what department can I direct you to?"
7. Management shall engage with every customer. One way to increase both the customer experience and customer loyalty is to make sure management engages with every customer. This separates your business from the competition and increases value to the customer.
8. Thou shalt provide the best solution, not just the lowest price. People buy things to solve problems. Salespeople must ask the right questions, listen to the customer and know available inventory to provide the best solution. "Why did you come here today?" or "What are you looking for here that you didn't find online?” should be asked of every customer.
9. Thou shalt attempt a second sale. Every product purchase creates an opportunity for another product sale. Wait until the first product is all but rung up and offer other products that would best support the first purchase. “We have great gloves to match that coat. Let me show you.” People are open to buying more to justify their first purchase. Product saturation not only increases profits, it ensures customer loyalty.
10. Thou shalt help customers extend beyond their budget. Never believe a customer when they say they can't afford something. They can and will buy beyond their budget and do so everyday. Almost every household in America including the government extends beyond their budget. Acknowledge the idea of a restricted budget and keep showing them your products, services and solutions that are more valuable than the budget that is restricting them.
Great retailers must look for ways to go above and beyond for customers and provide an exceptional customer experience leading to loyalty and referrals. Your people should treat every customer like a millionaire who is ready and able to buy today. Retailers who do this will see how easily they win over cynical customers and turn them into loyal, frequent shoppers.
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