Attracting customers to your business involves impressing them from the moment they walk in the door. When they are greeted by friendly staff and are shown high-quality products that are destined to meet their needs, they are very likely to purchase goods in your store. But if you think your charm offensive stops there, you could not be more wrong. That’s because it is the checkout experience that truly can close the deal, not only for today’s sale but in terms of the likelihood of return visits. Take a little time to enhance your customers’ cash-out experience, and your sales could see a jump.
Engage the Five Senses
When you engage each of the five senses, your customers will be far more likely to remember their positive feelings and share their experience to others. While these finishing touches are subtle, they truly can make a difference. Engage a buyer’s sense of sight by providing them with beautiful and interesting things to see as they stand in line. Glitzy magazines with snappy headlines and inexpensive toys and gadgets are just two ways you can accomplish this goal. Choose background music that matches the mood of your store: upbeat and trendy or soothing and serene depending on the effect you wish to create. Be conscious of how your store smells, focusing on a subtle yet pleasant fragrance. Invite people to activate their sense of touch by offering compelling items such as stress balls. Finally, consider leaving food samples that people can take and taste.
Keeping your customers’ minds engaged is just as important. If they like what they see in your store, they will be interested to learn about any new products you plan to feature. Furthermore, you can never over-advertise the incentive programs that you offer, including gift cards and customer loyalty benefits. After all, everyone likes to get things for free, and it has the tandem benefit of leaving people with a particularly positive impression of your business.
It is one thing to display signs and flyers that talk about your promotions and quite another to verbally interact with someone. While the former is certainly better than nothing, you’re the likelihood of making a long-term impression skyrockets if you or one of your staff members engages the customer in a conversation about what you have to offer. The same is true when it comes to verbally thanking the customer after a sale. “Thank you” is only two words, but it can mean the world.
That doesn’t always mean you should be loud with your verbalizations. In particular, be discreet when speaking to customers about how much they owe or if they have questions of a personal nature about one of your products or services.
A Personalized Experience
When your customer feels like they are the only person in the room, you are doing your job well. Don’t let distractions interfere with your one-on-one conversation with your customer, and always be sure to smile and be friendly. Don’t disengage from them until you know that they no longer need your assistance.
When the customer arrives at the checkout area, they should encounter a space that is well-organized and free of clutter. Adopt the same principles as you use on the sales floor once customers are at the register; specifically, be sure they are the center of your attention. Don’t let distractions, however pressing, draw you away from your customer in the midst of a sales transaction. The faster and more efficient the process is, the happier your customer will be. Just be sure you remain careful not to make mistakes for the sake of speed.
A good way to keep your business in the forefront of your customer’s memory is to include a business card, brochure or flyer in the bag along with their purchase. Refrigerator magnets, while more costly, can also be great ways to advertise your store.
Free samples are another tried and true method of ingratiating yourself with your patrons. Pique their interest in products you will soon be featuring or introduce them to an old favorite. Whatever you do, you may well find that the person returns at a later date and buys that very product.
Things to Avoid
One of the things that can aggravate customers more than virtually anything else is standing in line. Take some time to think of ways to minimize customer wait times. Some businesses now have a staff member scan purchases with a hand-held credit card reader that prints out a receipt. Once customers reach the register, they need only to present this receipt to the cashier, have their items bagged and be quickly on their way.
Since people will be standing in line for some period of time, take this opportunity to make them aware of your website details. Also consider printing them on readily available business cards so that patrons can later take advantage of your e-commerce site.
Make the cash register both interesting and efficient. Small impulse items are certainly an attraction that can turn into a last-minute added purchase. For maximum efficiency and security, be sure your credit card processing terminal is facing the customer and is out of the view of others standing nearby.
Keeping Up with Technology
These days, it also makes sense to allow consumers to use their smartphones to make payments simply by bringing them close to your contactless reader. If you don’t already have one, ask your merchant account provider about obtaining a card reader equipped with near field communication (NFC) technology.
Finally, no matter how compelling, tidy, speedy and efficient your checkout area might be, there will always be people who would prefer to take control of their entire payment process. To accommodate them, consider adding a self-service payment section. Just be sure that a staff member is available to answer questions or to provide assistance if a customer has difficulty.
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