Give your customers a reason to stay and they’re more likely to make it worth your while
More time means more money. This is an adage that rings true in a lot of situations, and retail is one of them. Customers spending more time in your store should mean they’re spending more money. The Wall Street Journal reports that retailers could see sales increases of up to 40 percent from encouraging lingering shoppers.
While statistically this may be the trend, longer dwell times don’t always mean more conversions. More time could mean that customers had difficulty navigating your store, finding the right product (because online inventory information was inaccurate) or locating an available store associate.
But there are positive steps your store can take to increase dwell time and increase more in-store conversions.
Start with your sales staff
Your sales staff is crucial in creating the in-store experience that gets customers to stay longer—and ultimately spend more. Train your retail sales staff to create an inviting, brand-authentic customer experience.
Recently, I was shopping at a local cosmetics and skincare store. I initially dropped in to ask a single question, but the sales associate who greeted me was super welcoming. She answered my question and encouraged me to try the products before I had a chance to leave. And, while I loved the product, my bike was outside, unlocked in an area known for bike theft. Without a prompt, the associate offered to watch my bike while I made my purchase.
My positive interactions with associates didn’t end there. At the register, the employee asked about my day, where I was from, and if I had shopped with them before. Upon learning this was my first purchase, she searched for the perfect free sample of a complementary product for me to try. I’m not suggesting you give away a complimentary sofa (if you do, sign me up!), but I am suggesting your staff build relationships with your customers.
In addition to assisting your customers, here are other ways your sales staff can encourage shoppers to spend more money during their visit:
- Cross-promotion: Train your sales staff how to identify complementary products so they can cross-promote them to customers while in-store. This encourages shoppers to spend more time discovering new products, while simultaneously driving sales.
- Personalization: 64 percent of consumers want personalized offers from retailers, according to data from Salesforce. Implement a customer loyalty program that will alert your associates to customer preferences so they can create an experience catered to the shopper.
- Comforts and amenities: Furniture stores sell furniture. Let’s face it, to a kid that can be pretty boring. But a lot of furniture stores have carved out children’s corners in their stores. This works because it’s an amenity some retailers realize their customers will benefit from. Furniture is not a purchase parents—shoppers—want to rush into. With a children’s corner, they can shop in the store for a longer amount of time, without worrying that their children may break something or cause trouble.
There are many other comforts and conveniences you can offer in-store shoppers. To figure out where your biggest opportunities are, understand where your biggest barriers are. What drives customers out of your store? Is it because they can’t find the products they’re looking for or there aren’t enough associates to help them? Then figure out the commonalities between your customers. Are there limited public rest rooms in the area? Are they clean?
And finally, offer free snacks and drinks (which can also enhance your brand experience if executed strategically). Refreshments don’t have to be complimentary to make customers spend more time and money. Some furniture retailers like HFA member Jordan’s sell food and drink.
Technology is a broad topic. It can range from offering a phone-charging station to creating VR/AR in-store experiences. But no matter how big your furniture store, we’re willing to bet there are a few tech enhancements you can implement. With minimal investment and technical expertise, here are some upgrades you can make to your store today to welcome customers to spend more time and, perhaps, money:
- Complimentary in-store Wi-Fi: (to make browsing your e-commerce store easier): Let’s face it, people, this is a must. They can either shop and compare on their phones in your store or do it somewhere else. You decide.
- Televisions: Why not let him watch baseball while she finds the perfect fabric?
- Mobile device-charging station: Some companies that provide charging stations report customers hang around in a store nearly twice as long.
Hosting events at your store is a known traffic-driver. It gives shoppers a reason to visit your store and engage with your brand in person. Plus, events can help you drive brand awareness and create community. But beyond those benefits, hosting events is a great way to get customers to spend more time in your store.
If you want to give event attendees a nudge towards conversion, there are a few tactics you can consider:
- Incentivize and reward event attendance with an offer or deal: What if you held a morning yoga class at your store, and attendees received 20 percent off post-class accessories?
- Incorporate your products into the event: Once a year HFA member Marty Cramer of Cramer’s Furniture in Ellensburg, Wash., holds a movie night at his store. Movie-goers (shoppers) pick out their favorite recliner and settle in for a night at the movies. Can you get any more intimate with a recliner than sitting in one for two hours? Bonus: The night raises money for a local animal shelter.
Optimize layout and design
Your store layout essentially sets the path that shoppers will take through your space. A well-designed layout will give customers a clear path, encourage discovery and interaction (read: increase dwell time), highlight products, and ultimately drive conversions. If you’re thinking about a change to your store, there are a few common layouts you need to consider:
- Grid: The grid-like floorplan creates aisles for customers to browse. This is usually how grocery stores are designed, as well as many big box retailers.
- Loop/racetrack: This has a single master aisle that makes its way around the store.
- Free flow: There is no singular path or regimented structure. This doesn’t mean you can plop your furniture vignettes anywhere—ensure the creative use of a free-flow layout matches your brand, lures customers into immersive experiences, and still makes it easy to find the register.
Also, take note of your decompression zone. This is your store’s “foyer,” and it’s often overlooked by shoppers. That means you should keep any furniture you want to prioritize out of this space and in more engaging areas deeper within your store.