Characteristics of a distinctive retail store
According to successful retailers and studies, all retail businesses need a roadmap for success and prosperity. The roadmap every business chooses, organizes or plots can determine the path it is going to flow into, and the most appropriate and practical roadmap incorporates distinctive dimensions, features and traits of a lucrative and customer-friendly business; the characteristics which are mostly shared by thriving retail businesses.
A great majority of business-owners complain about economic recession and stagnation. Notwithstanding the vicissitudes and problems, there are retail stores and businesses which are still thriving booming and profitable, managing and encouraging even the most cautious or difficult customers.
On the other hand, sometimes it is not the case with economic problems. In most cases, shelving even the high-end and quality products and merchandise on disorganized shelves and racks within an old-fashioned and outmoded retail environment can ruin your sales opportunities.
As a retailer, being confused and undetermined about your retail-business structure can lead to inaction around your retail store; a kind of stagnation which will be unsolvable, irrespective of the type of products you are displaying in your shelves and racks and regardless of how booming and thriving or depressed and sluggish the market is. Eventually, an inactive or deactivated management process will lead to ineffectiveness, putting your retail business down the slope of bankruptcy.
As a retailer, your goal must be to gain significant market share, no matter how thick or thin your business is. A lucrative retail store entails providing customers with a memorable shopping experience through setting up an attractive, convivial and welcoming atmosphere for your customers, enjoying sustained profit growth.
Some of the traits and characteristics to be considered when establishing your retail store:
Appropriate localizing: Except in cases where the format of the retail store structure, shelving and decoration is mainly standardized (as with brands such as Apple, McDonald), the location and localization process, both for the physical building of your retail store and sorting the merchandise in specific customer-friendly order, is a key to your retail business prosperity and lucrativeness. Moreover, the style and layout you choose for your retail store must be unique and distinctive, because replicating and copying other businesses’ style and model of shelving and decoration, gets you nowhere. Furthermore, utilizing one-size-fits-all shelves, racks and boxes in your retail store to hold various kinds of merchandise will result in tedium and monotony among customers.
The location you choose to found and establish your retail store is crucial as well. A great majority of successful retail stores are located at the heart of the cities or on busy junctions which are frequently visited by maximum number of people, in order to provide extra convenience. In terms of retail stores, inconvenience includes distance, congested or slow-moving traffic, numerous traffic lights before turning into the parking lot, limited and diminutive size of the parking lot and restricted access to other retailers. In other words, you should not make consumers “think” or “struggle” to get to your location!
Employing more sales assistants does not mean better service
Some retail store managers try to deceive and con their customers by crowding the store with redundant salespeople and assistants, denoting that they do care about customers’ satisfaction. However, the big question is: How can you guarantee valuable and efficient services if your sales department is not instinctively professional in sales? Even with a crowd of salespeople and assistants wiggling and wobbling around your retail store, customers will easily feel and experience the poor service and will think twice before they decide to shop from your store next time.
Aim for an exciting shopping experience
Some retail store owners or managers suppose that creating an exciting in-store shopping experience for customers mean that they, as store-owners and strategists, have to cover the store walls with video screens and LCD TVs, playing loud music.
For a positive and exciting experience, first of all, you should focus on the interior design of your retail store, which includes lighting, ceiling design and structure, the walls and signage, the shelving and racking system, the display boxes and refrigerators (if required), the floor design which determines the placing, spacing and shelving layout, the fixtures, the strategic placement of products, etc. Taking all these into account can guarantee conveying a good feeling to your customers, encouraging and motivating them to come back.
When we talk about a department store, we are referring to a store which consists of different departments or sections, each specializing in a particular product, and all sections under one roof, and no section and department interferes in other sections’ activities and trades.
Shelving a variety of consumer products, such as perishable, natural, manufactured, specialty, generic, branded, domestic, industrial, cleaning, styling, medical and pharmaceutical, beauty and cosmetic products can provide all the needs and requirements of customers under one roof called retail store. A wide variety of merchandise in your retail store can enhance your sales opportunity because it is quite difficult to find customers who look for one or a few items of goods in different sections of a department store.
Facilities and amenities such as food courts, children’s playground, ATM and banking, Internet Cafés, post office, beauty clinic, EMS booths, etc. along with high-end and quality products and merchandise efficiently shelved, organized and displayed, can guarantee a customer-friendly and lucrative retail environment.
Additional services to customers such as long-term and short-term or interest-free credit facilities, telephone or online ordering and home/office delivery, exchange or refund facilities in case of dissatisfaction can create and foster a stimulating and favorable environment for customers.
Always keep in mind that retail industry, retail store in particular, is a battlefield where you fight to achieve massive sales and to lure and entice loyal and long-standing customers. Even in a fierce and cut-throat economic competition and crisis characterized by double-digit and rising unemployment rate, prohibitive costs and prices, and spiraling inflation, a well-designed and organized retail business can survive and thrive. Considering such critical circumstances, a market-oriented and economics-based pricing strategy can satisfy even the most price-sensitive customers. A low-margin-high-sales strategy can increase the number of customers and generate the net profit.
No matter how eye-catching your retail store’s interior design is, if customers, on their regular or frequent visits, face an unchanging and monotonous atmosphere and layout in your retail store, they are highly likely to change their positive attitude toward your store or adopt a different shopping habit. Change and variety are crucial and intrinsic parts of success in retail industry, department stores in particular. Customers used to purchase everything from department stores. However, we can notice a dramatic change in customers’ shopping and spending habits. For instance, according to a survey, approximately 28 per cent of the customers purchased women’s clothing from department stores. Periodic changes in the layout of the displays and shelves, occasional changes in the products being displayed and sold, customer services such as issuance of loyalty cards, after-sale service, online marketing and selling, offering 24/7 services can all give a retail store a buzz of excitement and sense or reliability.
Sales promotions and CRM
According to recent studies, approximately 62 per cent of customers purchase goods while the retail stores, department stores in particular, offer sales promotions. Although customers are well informed about discounted or rock-bottom prices of goods and products, only effective, persuasive and convincing front-line salespeople can achieve multiple sales with a happy and satisfied customer.
Therefore, simultaneous on-the-job and hands-on staff training and constant supervision are required to ensure that your sales department is doing effectively and efficiently. A recent survey indicates that poor customer service by the employees and salespeople in a retail store, gossiping and laughing in the presence of customers, ignoring customers and not showing due respect, can make them more budget conscious and approach the displays and shelves more cautiously.
Color and Lighting
Provided that all the shelving and racking are designed, located and organized and all the fixtures are installed appropriately in a customer-friendly style and pattern, and all products and goods are shelved conveniently, you can be sure that you are halfway there. The next crucial elements you have to consider within your retail store is color and lighting. According to retail designers, it is not about creating and designing a beautiful store, but one that has coherence and integrity.
Our reaction to colors is instinctive and spontaneous. Foe instance, red means “stop” and green means “go”. Therefore, in order to use the colors properly and effectively, first we need to become acquainted with psychological and physiological impacts and effects of colors. That is the reason why colors are central to integrity and coherence of your retail atmosphere.
According to studies, approximately 80 percent of peripheral data are acquired and captured via eyes. In other words, we are psychologically and instinctively more sensitive, reactive and comfortable when we see and face colors suggestive of something familiar. For instance, we associate blue color with sky and calm. Our reactions and responses to colors are mostly similar, although there are some differences and variations stemming from cultures and nationalities. For instance, white is the color of marriage in western societies whereas it is regarded as the color of death in some countries such as China.
When we look at dark and intense red, our heartbeat quickens and our blood pressure elevates. The converse occurs when we look at white or gray colors. Being familiar with the effects and influences of colors on customers, at different ages, can help you choose the most enticing and appealing colors for your in-store design, resulting in a significant increase in your footprint.
Needless to say, you have to consider your customers’ age group. Is the store aimed at teenagers? Thirty-somethings? Senior citizens? For younger customers, you had better use bold and intense colors, whereas older customers prefer subtle and less bright or strong colors. Not taking these points into consideration will result in a kind of dissociation and disconnection between your customers and the brands on displays and shelves.