Consistently delivering a positive shopping experience for customers is one of the most important factors in building and maintaining a successful retail business.
A big part of this comes from tangible items, such as store signage or packaging, and also from the intangible emotional atmosphere you create in your store with lighting, sounds, smells, furnishings, and customer service.
The way your customers feel when they visit your store is a reaction to everything and everyone they come in contact with. This is your brand experience or identity.
See Your Business as Customers Do
As the owner, you’ve probably walked through the front door of your store thousands of times. Given this familiarity and the dozens of other things racing through your mind, are you really seeing your store the same way your customers do?
Probably not. It’s these hidden details that are tarnishing your brand identity and damaging the customer experience you’ve worked so hard to create. A mound of unfolded sweaters or confusing sale signs could lead customers to walk right out your door — and into someone else’s.
Silent Killers Are Tarnishing Your Brand Identity
Retailers who ignore the importance of building a strong brand may soon find themselves out of business. Research has proven that customers will remain loyal to a brand that has consistently treated them well, but any brand must be nurtured and protected.
Here are a few of the most common mistakes that could be killing your brand:
1. Lack of Consistency
Whether you are the busy sole proprietor of one store or have multiple locations, it’s very easy to let small details slide. Something as simple as a burned-out sign or inconsistent store hours erode your brand and turn off customers. Outdated Google Map listings can prevent prospective customers from ever finding your store.
Retailers should always establish and enforce standard operating procedures, messaging, and protocol. If you aren’t clear about your hours or address, customers are likely to question how upfront you’ll be about pricing and quality.
2. Indifferent Managers
Managers will never take ownership of your business the same way you do — unless you train them to. When entrusting your brand to someone else, ensure that every manager and employee understands exactly what needs to be done.
Keep in mind that this isn’t a simple bottom-line issue as far as organization and maintenance are concerned. One negative interaction with an inattentive manager can lead to online complaints and bad reviews for your business. People’s psyches are conditioned to remember — and publicize — negative experiences. Make sure that your managers and employees are willing to do what they reasonably can to provide positive outcomes for your shoppers.
3. Unsanitary Conditions
Nothing ruins a customer’s experience faster than unsanitary conditions in any part of your store. Whether those include streaky windows, dusty merchandise, or a dingy bathroom, a dirty establishment tells customers that you don’t make their comfort a priority. It also signals that your merchandise hasn’t moved from the shelves in a while. If no one else wants it, why should they?
It only takes one visit on a busy day for a previously brand-loyal mom to decide she doesn’t want to take her kids into your bathroom (or your store). Keeping these mistakes from sabotaging your brand is hard work and requires a constant commitment from everyone in the company, but making it a priority is up to you.
The good news is that taking care of these mistakes before they have a chance to disrupt your business goals will always pay you back in terms of increased loyalty, sales, and customer satisfaction. Step back and see your store through your customers’ eyes. It will be more enlightening — and profitable — than anything else you can do for your company.