Selling Customers on Your Store

Make more sales with these five tips for creating a superior in-store experience.

Selling Customers on Your Store

Retailers see it all the time: Shoppers browsing store aisles with keen interest, handling products in a clear attempt to evaluate and determine value. And then out comes a smartphone followed by a quick search, eyes darting from screen to the product in hand, and then, the dreaded result: The shopper sets the product down and walks out without buying anything. 

Shopping online admittedly provides several advantages to the shopper, including the ability to instantly compare pricing from other retailers. The way to mitigate against losing a shopper searching for a better deal is to make clear the advantages of shopping and buying in store. In other words, retailers need to aim to make their in-store experience so good that even if a shopper is tempted to consult their smartphone in search of some other ‘deal,’ the best deal is where they are, in store, right now. This is more than merely trying to seal the deal in an impulse-buy scenario. This is about maximizing value for the shopper, helping them see why buying in your store, now, is the better option. 

With that in mind, here are five tips for creating a superior in-store experience. 

1. Emphasize the people part of your business. 

You’ve probably heard it said whether you run a business-to-consumer or business-to-business operation, you’re primarily in the people business. The sentiment, correctly identified, is that people sell to people and people buy from people. So understanding people and dealing well with people are crucial to all of your business interactions. Your in-store shoppers may reduce some of their decisions to mere economics — e.g., buying based on the lowest out-of-pocket cost — but they probably don’t exclusively make decisions like this. Especially in the shooting sports industry, so much history, legacy, camaraderie, and so on, is shared by retailers and shoppers alike, emphasizing the people part of the industry will serve both well.  

As such, you can emphasize the people part of your business in a few ways. Here are three:

  • Good old customer service — kind and clear communications including friendly greetings, offers to help, being near and present without annoyingly hovering — goes a long way here.
  • Post messages (such as in a poster or handout) in your store about the benefits of shopping and buying in store versus online versus. In the messaging, encourage customers to ask themselves about how they think through buying online: Are the reviews they read trustworthy, does the pricing they’re seeing include shipping, are there resources available for learning more about the product or service they’re considering, what are the options for returns, and so on. Be able to talk about these topics with customers without being overbearing. Remind them there’s a smiling face ready to help provide them with an informed purchase decision and then send them on their way—today. And that you’ll be here for them in the future.
  • Encourage your staff to introduce themselves to in-store shoppers and provide a business card, even if only a generic store card your staff members can write their name on. Put a QR code on a business card that links to your store website or a store directory. This provides a personal connection (and a digital option for those so inclined) that may prove valuable over time, even if the shopper doesn’t immediately buy in store. 

2. Provide product comparison information for them. 

Comparison shopping online is here to stay but the key to making it work for you and your store and your customers is to do it for them, right in the store. This isn’t necessarily about going online with your shopper but rather doing some comparative research on your own and posting some of this info in the store, so your shoppers see it and engage with it. It doesn’t have to be extensive but it does have to be fair and accurate. It’s always better to provide comparative information about multiple products that you actually carry in your store (in the end, the ideal is the shopper buys something, either product a or b, from you) but you can also provide comparative information about other products you don’t carry but shoppers may find in other stores or online. The key to the latter is to demonstrate the value of your product (or at least the value of a sale of your product from your store) over another retailer. The key is to do some work, up front, that informs and benefits your customer in some way. Regardless of whether you’re providing comparative info on a product or providing a sales experience that truly gives your shoppers more value for their money, this puts you and your enterprise in the position of being more likely to be perceived as a resource to a shopper. In other words, don’t be afraid to show shoppers that you’re on their side, so to speak, in making a purchasing decision. 

3. Demonstrate actual product use in store and support it with appropriate messaging.

The shooting sports industry is a hands-on industry and there are more opportunities for a sale when your shoppers can try a product out for themselves, live, in person, right there in the store. Take the time to train yourself and your staff in how to use the products and then train on how to present the pros and cons of a product to shoppers. Honest, hands-on reviews and conversations around a product that’s in hand will likely go a long way toward ensuring an in-store sale because there will be a bond created between the staff and the shopper and/or between the product and the shopper. 

Use appropriate verbal cues during product demonstrations to emphasize the value. You might say things such as “We’re glad to provide a hands-on demo at any time” (the implication is that hands-on demos are virtually impossible when buying online). Or, “Several of our staff have tried this product and found it does a, b, and c, very well.” Access to of multiple, in-person users who are part of the store, industry, etc., isn’t normally available online.

 4. Provide expert insight and/or training. 

Take the in-store demonstration a step further with an in-store expert providing instructions or insights. This doesn’t mean you need to hire a national champion shotgunner to talk to customers about how to draw a bead on clay pigeons; but you should pay one to be at the store for a half day clinic on trap and skeet tactics. Advertise the opportunity in advance, provide a stage and mic for a brief intro and a “talk” about the topic at hand, and then point the shoppers to the shelves and have the expert walking amongst them, asking and answering questions. If there’s an opportunity for group training, focus on the basics of that particular activity or sport — it’ll encourage the newbies and make them more comfortable and it’ll confirm the more knowledgeable shoppers.  

Especially in the shooting sports industry, hold an event such as an annual ‘demo day’ at a local shooting range with a trained expert providing insights and guidance.

5. Remind shoppers of the power of local business, the industry’s broad legacy and their holistic shopping needs. 

There’s a wrong way to get shoppers to become buyers and that’s to guilt them into it. But you can remind them that their patronage indeed helps your business even as you provide them with the value mentioned in the points above. 

This also relates to what we can call holistic shopping needs — the fact that if they’re shopping for one thing in your store it’s likely there are several other related things they may need now or in the future. Here, a ‘rewards’ or ‘frequent shopper’ program may be a helpful offering. But take time to help the store staff and shoppers understand that the store is not only a retail business but also an employer which does business in one of the most long-standing and important industries ever. It’s in this store and in this industry that lives are built, defended, employed/provided for, educated and entertained. 

Some of these things of course may be true of some online shopping resources but keep in mind that your smiling face and helpful demeanor can go a long way toward winning over shoppers — if not the day they’re in your store, then perhaps the next time.



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