If you think attracting new customers is tough, try retaining the ones you have. Not only must you have enough brand cache to get them in the door, but you have to offer a quality product and a good enough experience to make them want to come back. Hit on one or two of those, and you might have a customer on your hands. Hit on all three, and you might have a customer for life. With the rampant rise in popularity of online shopping, some brick and mortar locations have found a need to constantly angle for new ways to increase traffic into the store.
Given the fact that some estimates peg the cost to attract a new customer at up to seven times the cost of what it takes to retain one, the smartest brick and mortar businesses put a heavy emphasis on deepening customer loyalty. If you’re looking for new ways to jumpstart your own customer retention efforts, you’re in luck. We’ve put together a list of three of our favorite methods below.
Sell more than products, sell an experience
Customers obviously come to your store for the products you’re peddling, but today’s shoppers want a little side of flair. Have a new product hitting the shelves? Offer up regular demonstrations that illustrate how good the product really is. Let customers hold it to feel the quality and even try it out for themselves.
Everyone loves a good party, so think about how you can create festive seasonal affairs. That will make customers turn out in droves. If you’re a boutique that sells clothes, throw a fun fashion show and give your loyal customers a chance to walk the runway.
You should also be training your staff to become familiar with your customers so that they can provide tailored recommendations when the customers return. For instance, if you have a regular customer who prefers a particular dressing room, try to reserve that space when the customer enters the store. Small gestures like that show customers that you value them, and that’s what keeps them coming back.
Offer the creature comforts shoppers want
Think back to when you were a kid and when your parents took you shopping with them. Mom probably plowed through rack after rack of dresses and Dad sorted through stacks of jeans, while you were bored to tears. Imagine if that store had a dedicated kids’ zone, complete with a TV, video games, books or toys. Instead of bothering your parents and asking to leave, you’d have built-in entertainment—and your parents would be shopping their hearts out. That’s what we call a win-win and a great idea for brick and mortar shops to entice customers to return. It doesn’t have to be just for kids either—a shop for ladies could have a section for doting husbands to relax in while the girls peruse the shelves.
Another angle to take is to recreate sections of the store to reflect the types of products you’re selling. If you have an electronics store, recreate a living room setup with one of your most popular TVs so that customers can get the full experience before making a purchase.
In-store amenities like Wi-Fi internet, and free snacks and drinks like popcorn and bottled water, can also make shoppers feel comfortable and want to stick around to shop.
Show the community you’re one of them
A study published by the Harvard Business Review found that customers weren’t necessarily loyal to companies—they were loyal to beliefs. In the findings of that study, which included 7,000 consumers from the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia, 64% said shared values were the primary driver for the relationship they have with their favorite brands. That means the onus is on brands to align with the types of values that its customers believe in.
For many customers of small businesses, those passion points include locally focused initiatives. As a small business owner, you should take the time to get out and give back to the communities where your stores are located. Find a non-profit partner where you can donate your time or sponsor a philanthropic event. The most important thing is to pick a project that you genuinely care about, and not just something that you’re faking to drive sales. If you’re able to do that, there’s a good chance you’ll find that you share values with many of your customers, and they’ll often think of you first when they require a purchase.