By now we all know that online shopping is on the rise. With the countless options and added convenience – not to mention the technological advancements and explosion of smartphone use – it’s no surprise that people have turned to the Internet for everything from books and clothing to electronics and jewelry.
But in the land of brick-and-mortar retailers, it’s not all doom and gloom. While a website’s “Buy” button may save customers time and money, there’s still a lot to be said for a top-notch shopping experience. In some industries – paint and decorating among them – there’s no replacement for experience, expertise and sage advice. As long as you offer quality products at fair prices, and provide exceptional customer service, there will always be a market for your business.
The biggest challenge for independent retailers, therefore, is not competing with online shopping outlets; it’s finding your audience, getting them in your store and doing what you do best. Here are three ways to get more people through your front door and set your business up for success.
Promotions and events. Tempting as it may be to simply throw a “Blow Out Sale” sign in your window every couple months, in-store promotions should be about more than just bargains. They’re an opportunity to meet your neighbors, make a good impression and grow your customer base. Regardless of your industry, there are countless ways to draw a crowd without seeming desperate or overly sales-y; take advantage of holidays, piggyback on local trends or team up with other businesses or organizations in your community. The more inclusive your promotion, the more traffic – and more business – you’ll get.
Improve Your Curb Appeal. No matter how many times we’ve been told to never judge a book by its cover, we all still do it. For people visiting your store for the first time, dirty windows, trash on the sidewalk or a scuffed front door can be enough to turn them off. And between online shopping, big box stores and the other independent retailers in your area, there’s no shortage of alternatives for them to turn to. As a paint and decorating retailer, the pressure is especially high to look the part and make a lasting impression; take advantage of your position to stand out and show what’s possible with a keen eye and the right paint. Sprucing up your storefront is also a great way to catch the eye of someone who may be new to the neighborhood or never knew you existed.
Referral Programs. While the days of traditional media advertising may be behind us, the power of word of mouth is alive and well. While a diverse product line, extensive industry knowledge and service with a smile go a long way, referral programs provide extra incentive for satisfied customers to recommend your business to others. Whether it’s a one-time discount or entry in a draw, rewarding your customers for referrals shows that you value their business. Once the new customer is in your store, however, the onus is back on you. Be sure to provide the same experience that got them in the door – and provide them the same incentive to refer the next one.