Approaching Customers Based on Their Shopping Plans
Every customer is different, which is why every approach towards customer communication should be different, as well. While this is easier said than done, it helps to first understand what, if anything, a customer is looking for. By understanding this, you can position yourself to better support your customer with their shopping needs.
Some customers will want their own space to shop whether they have a purchase in mind or are just browsing. Others love the simple chitchat that boutique shopping often allows itself and likewise, they enjoy the suggestions and ideas of products throughout your store. To help you get an idea of what a customer prefers, start with a simple welcome within the first minute or two of when they enter your store. By acknowledging their arrival, you are opening yourself up to the customer and the customer is now aware of your presence. Based on the customer's response, you should do one of two things—continue the conversation or step back for a bit.
The first option is to immediately take the initial opportunity of conversation and ask them if they are looking for something special or something in particular. Not only does this quickly tell you the purpose of your customer's store visit, but it also allows you to prepare your plan of sales support. The other option you have is to let your customer begin to shop without any additional conversation details from your end. Typically, this is best suited for customers who barely acknowledge your hello, lack any eye contact with you, or are quick to answer just looking. Once you have determined a first impression of your customer's shopping intentions, you can then decide how to best support them throughout the rest of their store visit.
Customers Shopping With a Purpose
When a customer is shopping with a specific purchase in mind, it is important to respect their purchase desire. If you are able to show them what they are looking for, and they react with relief and excitement of having found what they want, then your job is easier than usual. More often than not, however, store owners don't always have exactly what customers want. As a response, stores tend to try and sell what they have versus accepting what they don't have—which in many cases can be a better sales approach. By recognizing that you may not have what they want, you can quickly and honestly guide them to some new ideas without them thinking you are trying to sell them something they don't need. And trust me, many customers will let this thought cross their mind. For example, if they are looking for a light blue baby blanket with silky edges, you may not have this. On the other hand, you may have a fabulous blanket just like this but in beige or possibly a blanket very similar without the silky edges they were hoping for. By introducing them to alternatives, you are opening up the idea of them purchasing something other than what they had planned. If you cannot support them at all with some likely alternatives, you may need to accept that you might not make a sale. But that doesn't mean you can't make a returning customer. If there is no hope that you can support them with what they need, offer suggestions as to where they can get what it is they are looking for. This support will be remembered by the customer and will likely result in a repeat guest to your store .
Supporting Customers With No Shopping Direction
Let's face it—ladies love to shop; moms love to just look around and everyone makes purchases they don't plan for. These are great details to have on your side. Often the easiest sale isn't one of someone who knows what they want but rather that of someone who wants something but doesn't know it. If you are like most consumers out there, then you know that buying something just because or when you didn't expect to can be a lot of fun. As a retailer, you can support this kind of customer by being open, friendly, and flexible with their shopping direction. Once you have found out they aren't shopping for anything specific, you can engage them in some open ended questions that may lead to ideas for now purchases. For example, you can ask them if they have any upcoming birthday parties they need to get gift ideas for. Or ask if they have children and what their children's interests are. Listen to what they tell you and respond with some purchase ideas of products in your store. By listening to them, you will be better able to support them with what they may want without knowing they want it.
While conversation is among the best ways to make a sale, you can also support customers with silent selling tools. This includes incentives for customers to make a purchase by using signage and merchandising, promoting sales, special offers and other promotional details. By utilizing your voice in many ways, not just verbally, you will allow yourself to better support all the customers that walk through your doors, not just the ones that know what they want.