In lieu of the five Iconic things, places or persons we name traditionally on every other Friday, we will give five bits and pieces of advice for you, the humble retailer, to consider. Yes, even country clubs count, as some departments follow the same rhythm and flow as their bigger (and smaller) brick-and-mortar counterparts. Without further ado…
1. Rethink your operation. Retailers and other businesses have been changing their inventory on the sales floor sooner and sooner, year after year, to remind their customers that Christmas is somehow coming sooner in turn, even though it has yet to occur prior to Halloween (yes, some still pine for Christmas in July, but that’s mostly because heat-averse people in the northern hemisphere “want it to be cold already”). Placing Christmas merchandise on the floor sooner does nothing more than to impart to customers a sense of foreboding, much akin to a black hole warping time and space. If you still want to convey the Christmas spirit of joy, giving and gladness, adapt those values and practices into your operation instead. Train your sales floor employees accordingly, and your customers will notice the difference immediately.
2. Add some flavor to your specials. Since holiday specials are a dime a dozen in our consumer society and the big box retailers are doing little more than to match prices or offer minor exclusives to their merchandise, any distinctive, enticing detail you can throw in to the mix is more likely to attract positive attention from customers. If you’re a small retailer and you offered a special blow-out sale for 24 hours, and your employees went out of their way to serve your customers through best practices and the values written above, customers are more likely to remember you as the one business that stands above the rest, and hence one worth revisiting. (If you’ve done it all with the Iconic Mobile Retail system, all the better — the elimination of lines, personal attention, and the customer’s flexibility to check out wherever and whenever he wants, among others, have gone a long way to make the customer’s experience one of the smoothest in the industry.)
3. Bring on the hospitality. This is easier for Southerners to practice, as they have most likely grown up in the culture of kindness, patience, and familiarity (i.e. the positive kind). No matter where or when you might have been brought up as a child, it’s good to tackle problems from another angle to discover new ideas and adopt new workflows to match. If you’re a local business, try handing out a batch of hot chocolate, whether packaged or prepared in-house, to visitors. This is especially nice for country club members looking for a warming extra to their relaxing experience. If you’re a retailer, try to carry a few samples of your edible merchandise.
4. Add a cycling selection of merchandise. Taking a seasonal approach to business will not only increase your dynamic potential, but will also raise consumer interest in a time where little aside from jack-o-lanterns, Easter eggs/bunnies and plastic Douglas firs is held on the floor. Naturally, the choice to change from season to season belongs to the manufacturer, but that gives you, the business owner, an even easier set to select. As consumers know well by now, countless breweries make seasonal concoctions to celebrate the passing times. American patrons expect a load of turkey and dressing for the middle of fall, as well as the fall harvest vegetables. Some of the above can be added to a beverage cart, too, so golfers will have three more reasons to hit the links year round.
5. Thank your customers for their business. Always. Even if a customer doesn’t buy anything, the fact that they’ve shown themselves in through your doors indicates that they’ve had some interest in doing business with you. So have your sales floor employees thank them for their time, as their referrals will mean more customers, even without any repeat visits. If you follow any or all of the tips above, you might give them the itch to tell interested parties about that cup of hot chocolate you gave them, just because you could.