Enhancing Customers' Store Experience
Providing the right retail experience in your HME showroom helps you truly engage with clients. What's required to achieve that?
- By Rob Baumhover
- Jun 01, 2022
As consumer behaviors continue to change, many
predict and have seen that brick-and-mortar stores will remain an important
avenue to engage consumers now and into the future. So how
do you stand out among the competition? There are three core elements
in doing so:
- By providing a top-notch experience to your customers.
- Using different means of messaging to not only let consumers know
who you are but what services and products you offer.
- Providing quality products and the means to purchase them the way
they feel comfortable.
What goes into store experience? It’s a mix of having the right employees,
training them correctly, and ensuring the showroom’s look and
feel improves the consumer’s shopping experience.
What Is an Experience?
So, what’s an experience? An experience is the sum of everything one
encounters during a visit. It’s the way the store looks, how it feels, how
it smells, the interaction with the employees, and it’s even the process
during the transaction. Keep in mind that if one is broken, it makes the
customer’s experience not great.
Bearing that in mind, what’s considered great? It’s when there’s a plan
or a roadmap to every piece of the customer experience. When you
are deliberate on how your space feels, where items are placed, where
your staff greets the customers, and what they’re going to say during
that interaction, you can provide a great customer experience. The best
retailers don’t leave anything to chance; everything is by design.
Finding and Hiring the Right Employees
Employees are the face of your company. The way they interact and
treat your guests is how your guests see your company. So, what can we
do to make sure these employees follow our mission, but more importantly,
make every customer feel like their being heard and that we care?
We need to find and hire the right employees. Who should we be
looking for and where can we find them? These employees should be
caring, compassionate, friendly, and bring a background of working
face-to-face with people (you can train them on selling DME items).
So, where do we find individuals like this? Honestly look for them
throughout your daily routine, like when you go out shopping, go out
to eat, and even go to the bank. Many individuals help and provide
services to you. If they are good at what they do, slide them a business
card and ask if they’re locked in where they are at.
Training the Right Employees
After you hire the right person, we need to have a plan on how we train
our employees and be deliberate on what we train them on. Build out
a training program that gives them the information they need. This can
be written materials, videos, or an in-person demonstration. I’d then
incorporate roleplaying with each of them for a couple of purposes:
- So they know your expectations on where to first greet the customers
and how you’d like them to move through the space as they help the
- So you, the expert, can show them different scenarios that they will
encounter when helping customers, giving them the confidence and
experience when live bullets are coming at them.
The last piece of the training plan needs to be the follow-up. Observe
your employee’s interaction with your customers. This is a great way to
give them instant feedback. I’d make sure to highlight both the good
aspects of the interaction and the things you’d like them to improve on
or fix. Then, check in with each employee at least quarterly to see what
additional questions they have, and provide information to help them.
Consumers are looking for places to shop that present themselves as
welcoming and set up where they can easily see and touch different items.
Here are a few considerations when evaluating your store’s experience:
- How does your store present itself when a customer walks in? Does it
have warm and relaxing colors to set the tone right away?
- Do your fixtures and displays fit with the colors and products? Nothing
sticks out more, and not in a positive way, than old banged-up
fixtures that don’t present the items on them in an eye-catching way.
- Does your signage do one of two things: first, does it help direct
customers to the area of the product(s) that they came in looking for?
Secondly, is their signage that helps educate the customer once they
find the items?
- Does the store allow for all customers to easily move throughout
the space? Create wider aisles with a limited number of boxed items
stacked on the floor. Create room settings showing all the items one
may need or want in one real-life scenario.
All of this can be achieved with a plan that you and your team create.
Planning will allow you to create a space that not only you’ll be happy
with, but so will your customers. Consumers tend to spend more time
and money in places where they feel welcome and comfortable being in,
so by giving them what they are looking for you win as well.
This article originally appeared in the May/Jun 2022 issue of HME Business.
Rob Baumhover is the director of VGM Retail (www.vgm.com), which helps VGM members diversify their businesses through improved retail operations.