Depending on the patron's current needs and wants companies must tailor their business strategies to meet the latest shopping trends. For small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) with limited resources, staying up-to-date with what shoppers want is especially important.
According to the 2015 Small Business Consumer Pulse Survey by Cox Business, there are many elements of the customer experience that retailers are effectively providing. For example, 92 percent of consumers support small and medium-sized businesses at least once a week. However, there are also areas small businesses can improve. To retain customers and boost sales, businesses need to focus on constantly bettering the customer experience.
Here are five actions you can take to boost your business strategy and keep consumers satisfied:
Offer a convenient location
One of the advantages you have as an SMB is that your store is usually closely located to your main customer base. According to the Cox Consumer Pulse Survey, 61 percent of consumers cite convenience as one of the main reasons they shop locally, and the short drive or walk down the street is undoubtedly an expedient quality.
People may not be aware of your business and where it is located, so you may be an unnoticed convenience to many consumers in your surrounding location. Make sure your store is easy to spot by people walking by and that potential customers know the address. Use signage as one of your major marketing strategies to draw people into your doors.
Be sure to update your equipment
Do not let the location be the only source of convenience. Use an updated point-of-sale (POS) systemthat allows you to print, text or email customized receipts to better accommodate customers.
In addition to the efficiency of built in loyalty programs and inventory management tools, an updated POS system also allows for modern payment methods like mobile transactions. Customers can simply tap their smartphones to the terminal to make a payment with mobile wallet applications such as Apply Pay and Android Pay.
Updated POS systems have EMV payment capabilities as well, so customers can make more secure payments at your store. By accommodating for a variety of payment options, you can appeal to more customers.
Provide excellent customer service
The Cox Consumer Pulse Survey revealed that 51 percent of consumers support small businesses because they receive better customer service at these locations than at larger businesses. It is often easier for customers to get to know the owner of a small business because they are often the ones working behind the register. Smaller businesses tend to have a smaller staff, giving the staff and repeat customers more opportunities to interact and build stronger relationships.
Extend store hours
A common characteristic among local businesses is that they tend to close earlier in the evening. Unfortunately, this is the time many consumers are just getting out of work, meaning their only opportunity to shop at your store is on the weekends. The survey also revealed that 32 percent of consumers want small business' store hours expanded.
If you can't be in the brick-and-mortar store longer than you already are, consider integrating e-commerce solutions into your business strategy. First American can help you begin your e-commerce transaction processing and design an effective website. Additionally, the cloud capabilities with updated POS systems mean that as a business owner, you can access store information 24/7. This is a great benefit for the business because if you're not actually present in the store, you can still be open for business.
Integrate loyalty programs
Loyalty programs reward customers for repeatedly shopping at your store, and your business benefits by making more sales. Forty Six percent of consumers want to see more customer loyalty programs in their local small businesses. Take a lesson from larger businesses: According to Loyalty 360, the customer rewards program at Starbucks earned the major coffee shop a 26 percent increase in profit in 2013. Small businesses can experience the same advantages of big companies by implementing a customer loyalty program.
Loyalty programs don't have to be expensive for your business. In fact, updated POS software has loyalty programs built in. With customizable merchant gift cards, advanced data analytics and easy-to-use POS terminals, investing in a customer loyalty program can benefit facets of your business strategy beyond garnering return customers. In addition, the data analytics and inventory tracking capabilities will also help your business run more efficiently.