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Five steps to a great in-store experience

Properly trained associates and customer feedback are two critical features of an experience that will keep shoppers frequenting your stores.

Sydney Ivey, GM for small business at Bank of America Merchant Services (BAMS), recently shared five strategies brick-and-mortar stores can implement to produce immediate improvements in their customer experience: 

1.    Train your employees to deliver top-notch service. Store employees are the front line of customer service. Retailers should help them understand and practice proper etiquette in person, as well as on the phone or email. This means answering questions, handling complaints or providing more service that the customer expects. Store associates should also know their employer’s business inside and out, and understand that providing good customer service is an essential part of their job function.

2.    Minimize all points of friction, from shopping (or dining) to checkout Maximize convenience and efficiency so that the experience doesn’t suffer. This includes effectively managing inventory to avoid being “sold out” of a popular item, mastering staff scheduling to ensure coverage during peak busy times, and streamlining the payment and checkout experience by accepting multiple popular forms of payment, making it more convenient for customers to shop.

3.    Create a comfortable place of business for customers. Appearance counts when providing a positive customer experience. Design sets the visual vibe from the very first second customers step into a store. Retailers should consider the basics - location, parking, store layout, lighting, etc. -and after master those, think about the style and comfort when deciding on decor options.  

4.    Consider the intangibles. To really deliver the “wow” factor, retailers need to consider what makes their business different from all the rest. It all depends on the specifics of an individual retailer and its customers, but retailers need to find something that will set them apart and make the in-store experience memorable.

5.    Keep tabs on what customers think. Retailers need feedback to know if they are on the right track. It can be the difference between happy, repeat customers and in-and-out browsers. Ask customers what they think while they’re in the store, at checkout or while browsing, create a suggestion box, and keep tabs on review sites.

“Ultimately, happy customers mean more revenue opportunities now and down the road,” said Ivey. “With these five simple strategies, every retailer can improve its in-store experience.”

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