Strategy for a beauty supply store to beat big online retailers
Online shopping is a great tool for many consumers who want to compare the prices with a few clicks on their smartphones, have the goods delivered at home, and save time.
For the past few years, many cheap made-in-China hair products made their debut on Amazon.com, and it certainly has left a dent in beauty supply store sales. However, despite the significant growth of e-Commerce, the shopping experience at brick-and-mortar stores cannot be offered at online shopping.
For example, at beauty supply stores, customers can see and touch goods and bring them home right away.
Let’s find ways to leverage the unique experience to beat large online retailers.
1. Utilize samples
Have you gone to an ice cream shop where they offer you a small-spoonful sample of a new flavor? Many people pick the flavor because of the kind gesture.
When you visit big chain beauty shops like Sephora, you can see many samples or testers for each product. Having customers try a product before making a purchase not only provides valuable feedback for new products but also promotes sales.
Beauty supply stores can offer samples for make-up products and testers for hair products so that customers can try and touch the items before a purchase.
2. Stimulate five senses with music, lighting, and scent
A beauty supply store should make a place customers want to come back with music, lighting, decoration, and subtle scent. A research found that if you use subtle scent throughout the sales floor, you can increase retail sales by 32%.
The same goes for music and lighting. Highlights or pin-point light fixtures and relaxing music for shoppers can help customers remember your store better by subconsciously associating them with your business. An interesting fact found in the research is that 20% of customers spent more time at a store playing a song that they did not know.
3. Notify customers for new arrivals via email/text
Don’t forget to have sufficient inventory for best sellers and popular items. If anything goes out of stock, do not let your customers turn back empty-handed but ask their email address or phone number to make them come back when it is restocked.
Online stores offer a service that notifies a customer who opted in for email or text notification when out-of-stock items become available. Your store can offer the same. You may offer a free delivery service if the customer pays for the goods in advance and agrees to receive the items when they are available.
4. Share your expert knowledge
Many online shoppers visit brick-and-mortar stores to actually inspect the items they are interested in while comparing price online. While many retail business owners feel annoyed by them, you can actually use the opportunity to make sales. Your expert knowledge is key to convert the customer.
When you can provide expert answers to customer questions, a study found that you are more likely to land a sale. To make a right atmosphere, you can invest in a space for customer consultation, where you share your professional knowledge and answer customer questions to open their heart and make your business more approachable.
5. Register with Google My Business
Both offline businesses and online stores need to have an online presence so that potential customers can find them. Just like you use Google search to find the hours, contacts, and menu information for a restaurant, customers google your business.
Google allows users to search stores nearby their location, and customers can rely on the information with confidence because it is verified by Google. Google My Business is a free service for business, and you can simply type “google my business” in the search box to find out how to register.
You should regularly check Google, Yahoo!, and Yelp to update your business information, and it is also important to monitor the online reviews and respond to questions.
6. Communicate a sincere brand story rather than an advertisement
For a small business, the most powerful marketing tool is your brand story. Brand stories may not sound familiar, but you can post your inspiration, stories about yourself or family members, and so on on your business website, emails or pamphlets.
These facilitate communication between a business and a customer, generate emotional ties, and give a special meaning for making purchases at your store. This is something big online stores cannot do, so it is even more special.
7. Gifts, lotteries, and events
Is there a better attraction for customers than special events? Unlike just offering discount to attract customers, an event provides special fun for your customers.
You can choose events that are best for your locale, distribute lottery tickets for buying customers during a certain period, and make sure as many people as possible learn about the event via social media and email.
You can give multiple lottery tickets per purchase based on the amount. Pick the best sellers and new items for the prize, so you can promote your business as well as the products to boost sales at the same time.
8. Do not hesitate to request feedback
The most certain way to increase future sales is requesting customer feedback. You can provide a piece of paper or email address where your customers can provide opinions about the shopping experience at the store.
While the feedback offers valuable insight to customer experience, you also show them that you are trying hard to make them happy and listen to their opinion. Don’t forget a small gift for customers who provided feedback.
9. Pick-up shelves in the store
If you neither have an online store nor offer delivery service, then you can make store pickup available. For regular customers or repeat purchase items, you can designate a pick-up shelf so that a customer can place an advance order for an easy pickup.
You can simply bring back the items if they do not sell within 24 or 48 hours. This is a great method to promote sales, and customers can shop from home or work conveniently.
Although you cannot compete with online stores offered by big chains like Walmart, it is still a great system to improve the shopping experience for customers who want to save time walking down the aisles, locating items, and collecting them in the cart. You can beat the delivery speed of an online store because the customer can pick up their items possibly within a few minutes.
In fact, according to a recent study by Factworks, consumers preferred a brick-and-mortar store because they could get the item right away, items were closer, and they could avoid shipping fees. The store pickup is a way to bolster your advantage.
10. Your staff should beat online chat
A recent consumer research found that 41% of consumers are willing to pay more for knowledgeable and helpful service. A sincere communication with a customer is something an online store can never offer, and beauty supply stores should take advantage of that.
Many surveys found that a lot of customers still prefer personal interaction when buying goods, complain about online chat and email customer service because they take too much time or often produce no desired answer at all, and say they will never replace actual people in the store.
Hence, it is important that beauty supplies place employees well informed about the products throughout the store and make them ready to professionally answer customer questions. This not only improves your customer’s impression about your store but also provides a unique opportunity for giving out individual consultation that is not possible at online stores.
11. Exclusive products and services
Many consumers shop at Etsy because it offers personalized, highly tailored design goods. Engraving names for special gifts or special occasions among others may not be available at a big chain store.
Beauty supplies can do the same. You can offer a surprise bonus item for a purchase over a certain amount, a free wrapping service for gifts, and shopping baskets specially made for your store, which will provide a fun experience that is not available at online stores.
Online stores are getting bigger. At the same time more and more consumers want personalized items and services, and they say they are willing to pay more for them. You should attract these customers by developing personalized products and services.