Businesses today keep hearing the same refrain over and over – go online, sell online, get your customers online, succeed online. So what does this mean to a store owner who actually operates a business from a bricks and mortar store?
Your store could be your best advantage! In today’s world of e-selling, the experience that customers receive when they actually walk into a store simply cannot be duplicated. A real salesperson talks with them, they can feel and touch the items they are interested in, breath in the fragrance in the air, take in the lights in the store and the decorations. These all stimulate a customer’s senses in a positive manner.
The best example is Apple. We think of the innovative company as one that made all its breakthrough decisions with the newest, latest technology. But one of the best decisions Apple ever made had nothing to do with technology.
Called “crazy and outrageous” at the time, Apple decided 20 years ago to invest in STORES! Yes, in order to face their competitors head on, they figured they would do the opposite of what everyone else was doing and bring back the bricks and mortar store.
They reallocated capital out of traditional broadcast media and instead, put it into beautiful Apple stores where people could experience their products directly and always feel there was Apple support. You’ve seen the result – modern, stylish and very busy Apple stores where real “Apple geniuses” meet you and help you solve problems, everything from finding your contact list to syncing all your devices – at no cost!
Over the years, Apple has opened about 500 retail stores across 17 countries, including 270 in the United States and 228 elsewhere. Literally millions of customers visit their stores every day!
So what can today’s small business owners learn from Apple?
- Nothing can compete with fabulous, real life salespeople who talk with you and support you face to face
- The experience customers get from walking into a store, taking in the atmosphere, looking around, touching merchandise, relaxing and enjoying themselves – this is totally different than what it feels to experience online purchasing
- Face to face, it is so much easier to be sensitive to customers’ time on long check-out lines, be proactive in helping speed the shopping process, step-in if there’s a concern.
- In store, you have an opportunity to demonstrate to your customers that you are polite, genuinely caring and interested in helping, acknowledging and listening.
In short, your store still matters; in fact, it gives you a big advantage. Make it an even greater experience for your customers with great design, products they can touch and feel, fabulous decorations and superb customer support and experience.