The retail landscape has changed dramatically in the last decade. With an increasingly competitive marketplace, brands have to work harder than ever to attract customers. This is especially true for brick and mortar stores that are competing with online shopping and instant delivery services. How do you break through and get customers in the door?
Convenience is King
First and foremost, customers are looking for convenience. The saying “time is money” is true, but helping customers save time helps you make money. In fact, 73 percent of people say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good customer service according to a Forrester survey.
At The UPS Store, we recently launched a new store-in-store model where a smaller footprint center exists inside another retail location, such as a pharmacy, hardware store or grocery store. The intention is to be a one-stop-shop for customers for added convenience. Rather than making multiple stops while running errands, customers can make the most of their time by visiting one location. The store-in-store model allows for all the services you would find at a traditional The UPS Store, but with a reduced cost of entry for the owner. With a retail business that’s already established and an owner that knows the fundamentals of running a business, adding The UPS Store retail model can be almost seamless.
“Our focus has always been on customer service, which is why The UPS Store is such a natural fit,” said Ben Hertz, The UPS Store franchisee and owner of Elmora Healthcare & Pharmacy in New Jersey. “The UPS Store name brings even more clout to our business and allows us to bring new products to our customers while remaining true to our customer service roots.”
With the new store-in-store model, franchisees are seeing an increase in business and happy customers. Michael Collins owns a True Value and recently opened The UPS Store within his hardware store. “Convenience is number one. You have to separate yourself from the competition,” said Collins. Franchisees are enjoying the added business and customers are able to maximize their shopping trips.
Set Yourself Apart
Setting yourself apart from the competition can be as simple as clearly communicating how the products and services you offer really benefit your customers. Do you provide a product nobody else does? Are you an expert in your industry and able to share that with your customers? Customers today do their research before making purchases and they want to know why they should choose you. According to the National Retail Federation, 74 percent of consumers say they typically visit the store to buy something specific rather than to browse.
With this in mind, consider tailoring your business to specific audiences. For example, The UPS Store has non-traditional locations at universities and hotels among others that cater to specific types of customers to provide the exact services they need. Hotel stores tend to specialize in printing and shipping to serve business travelers while university stores may focus on packing and shipping, as well as printing, which is what students and faculty primarily need. Be sure to clearly communicate to your customers why they should choose your business.
Customer Service Still Rings True
Another tried and true way to set yourself apart: customer service. In an increasingly automated world, more and more retailers are removing people and replacing them with AI/machines. But many customers still want face-to-face interaction – in fact, a recent survey from Accenture found that 83 percent of consumers surveyed reported that they prefer to interact with another human over utilizing a digital channel. Start by talking to your customers to understand their shopping experience. What did they enjoy about it? Were they looking for something but couldn’t find it? Your customers are a wealth of information and knowing that you value their time and opinion is a sure way to foster loyalty. One good customer experience can lead to many more through word of mouth as they relay their experience to friends and family.
At the same time, make sure to train employees on the best way to interact with customers. Your employees are often the face of the business so they need to understand expectations and business priorities. It can be helpful to create a set of values or guiding principles to help employees put their best foot forward.
In our digital age, customers have constant access to information. With this “always on” mentality, your business may not be open 24/7, but access to critical information should always be available. This is especially true as customers do research about your store before visiting in person. When you’re talking to your customers, ask them if they looked up your business online. Did they find all the information they need? Your website and social media should be helpful and easy to navigate.
Also, consider integrating e-commerce if it makes sense for your business. While the ultimate goal is to get customers in the store, offering online purchasing can help establish a relationship and provide an opportunity to follow up.
For more information about The UPS Store franchise opportunities, visit www.theupsstorefranchise.com.
Chris Adkins is the vice president of Franchise Sales at The UPS Store.