You’ve probably noticed a lot of articles lately about the preparations brick and mortar retailers can make to have a more profitible holiday season. These articles include topics on everything from marking down prices and investing in new technology to boosting employee capabilities.
It’s not surprising that retailers are focusing on ways to drive more holiday sales in order to end the last quarter of the year on a strong note. But The Retail Doctor—who’s done makeovers for hundreds of retail businesses—is suggesting a course of action that store owners may not have considered: looking at one’s store from the customer viewpoint.
Here are 3 things retailers should be asking:
- Is there anything in the store that would get in the customer’s way?
- What store features make customer shopping easier?
- Which store components subtract from the customer’s shopping experience?
These three questions serve as a guide for you and other retailers to prepare your respective stores for the holidays in the following ways:
Observe & Adjust
- Take a few minutes to sit down in each corner of your store.
- Glance up at the lighting. Are there any bulbs out? If so, replace them immediately.
- Look under racks for dust bunnys, trash, and/or hangers. Clean if necessary.
- Glance down aisles. Can strollers and wheelchairs easily navigate them? You should maintain a minimum of 42” per aisle. Make the appropriate adjustments.
- Browse over your walls. If your focus tends to go to empty spaces on shelving units, slatwall, or hooks instead of merchandise, fill them up with product.
Take Stock & Take Action
- Take note of everything in your back room, including all of the products on shelves or in boxes, the display and shelving units, and even items that aren’t in your inventory. Throw out or donate anything you won’t be using in the next 60 days.
- Create your employee schedule for the next 8 weeks. Schedule more associates than you need to deal with the increase in demand.
- Check security alarms on high-risk items like leather jackets and electronics. Perform maintenance as needed and make sure there are enough keys available to unlock high-theft products.
- Examine security cameras and make sure they’re focused on the right areas and/or inventory. Also check that your backup system is working properly.
- Do a store check at night. Are the safety lights working in the store? How does your outdoor signage look? Is the parking lot appropriately lit? Do any lights need to be replaced?
Review & Polish
Ask employees to go behind your checkout counter and review the following questions:
- What do you do if the POS goes down while a customer is at the register? If your staff can’t answer the question, review and/or train them as necessary.
- If you need a bag in the moment, but you’ve run out, what would you do? Make sure employees know their options.
- When should you restock such things as the register tape, boxes, bags and gift cards? Make a rule for newer employees to monitor these items so higher-value employees won’t have to do it during a rush.
- What types of situations require the assistance of an owner or manager? Where can you find their number? It’s easy to panic when something happens, so make sure you teach employees the correct protocal for contacting managers, whether it’s a customer complaining about a bad shopping experience or something blowing up on social media.
- Do you know the business’s hours and return policies? Make sure employees know where to find the answers to these questions and that they’re clearly posted for customers.
Retailers are often submerged in the business of making money. Consequently, papers may start piling up on desks and employees may start neglecting to put things back where they belong, resulting in general disorganization and unkempt stores.
The holiday rush is not the time to worry about the condition of your store.
“Clearly, cleanliness is an important component of the consumer experience,” says Randy Wahl, senior vice president of M/A/R/C. “This has a direct impact on the amount of spending a retailer can capture.”
Use the 30-minute checklist above to prepare your store now. Believe it or not, shoppers notice things like store cleanliness and maintenance and you can’t afford to give them reasons to find another store to shop at, especially during the holiday season.
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