Your ultimate goal is to develop a broad base of loyal and satisfied customers who will not only regularly shop at your store but also tell friends, neighbors, and relatives about it and encourage them to shop there, too. You want your clients to understand who you are and why you are important to them. How do you do it ?
- By positioning your store as highly successful, knowledgeable operation that provides a shopping environment beyond what your competitors offer
- By offering the merchandise, convenience, service, caring sales staff and excitement that will make the shopping experience unforgettable to the consumer
Perception of Store
Customer perception of your store can mean the difference between life and death, between success and failure. Customer have to feel comfortable when they enter the store to shop and even more comfortable when they leave with their purchases, confident that they received quality products at a fair price. This comfort level is what converts a casual shopper into a regular customer, which in turn is what you want and need for a successful enterprise.
But you have to work to earn it. And once you earn it, you have to work even harder to maintain it. According to a study by Georges S. May Int Company, a leading consulting firm to small businesses, customers have expectations and if they are not met, they will sense something is wrong. They'll forgive an occasional lapse but if it becomes a general trend, they'll start to shop elsewhere.
That's why the core of your marketing strategy must always be:
- Quality products
- Fair pricing
- Convenient location
- Good customer service
- Knowledgeable sales force
Picking the right product line
Your research and experience will tell you what your customers want. Your challenge is not only to provide those products but also to bring in new products and additional product lines to appeal to your customers and result in incremental sales. It is important that the product line expansion within the store be slow and appear as a natural extension of your core lines. Otherwise, your clients may perceive that you are drastically changing direction and begin thinking about shopping elsewhere. Make certain that you do have a good selection of quality products on hand at all time. And, if you sell clothing or shoes, a good selection in all sizes.
If you do not have a strong customer base, or are just starting a business, your approach to selecting your product lines may be different. You will have to define who you want to attract to the store as well as their needs. Combine that with your objective for the type of store you want to operate. Initially you will have to be careful not to overstock in case you have to change direction in your product lines.
A word of caution : In many instances, too many stores within a small radius are selling the same product lines. This is especially true in both men's and women's clothing, particularly sportswear. To gain a competitive advantage, your product line should be distinctive from that of your key competitors. Even if demand requires you sell some of the same products, the bulk of your line should differ from the other neighborhood stores.