One key to creating an excellent retail experience for your customers is to know your customers well enough that you can anticipate their needs and the type of merchandise or services they will gladly purchase. Nothing is worse than bringing in merchandise that you like and watching it sit idly on a shelf. Your customer’s needs and wants may not mirror your own, so it is important to do some research to be sure you are solidly aware of who you are serving.
When you know your customers well, and you offer an exciting variety of merchandise, great customer service, and an inviting store layout and environment, they will enjoy shopping at your store and return again and again. You will become the “go to” place that always has the perfect item or gift they are looking for!
We hear a lot about identifying customer demographics, but what does that really mean? It means that you have to know your audience. Who are your customers? Are they mostly young, college-age millennials? Working parents with a minivan and 2.2 children living in the suburbs? Or are they retirees who are still active in their communities?
Sometimes store-owners get tripped up because they can honestly say that ALL of the above shop at their store. And while that may be true, there is a certain demographic or group of people who are your core customers. Instead of trying to identify all your customers, pick the group that is the largest.
If you are in a small college town, your main customer base may be 18-25 year olds, both male and female. Of course everyone from professors to the waitress at the diner may shop with you, but the bulk will probably be the younger crowd, so your merchandise, signage, displays, and technology systems need to be geared towards them.
And if you are in a city with a high retirement population, a helpful barometer is demographic information, usually available from the Chamber of Commerce or city website that identifies the average income per capita. This will tell you whether you need to offer merchandise that appeals to cost-conscious consumers, or if the majority of your customers will be more affluent and happy to find and purchase specialty, more upscale products.