Shops that POP!

Retailers: What You Are Selling Isn’t Necessarily What Customers Are Buying

At a recent retailers’ workshop, a fledgling retailer opening her first store asked me a question.  In doing so, she described her business as “a store that sells kitchen cabinets and countertops.”  What her specific question was I don’t recall, because I got stuck on her store’s description.   She thought of her new store simply as a place for people to go to buy those things.

So I stopped her right there and told her rather than focusing on the things she is selling, she needs to focus on the experiences she is delivering to the customer.

In other words, she needs to describe her store not as a place to buy kitchen cabinets and countertops, but as a destination for kitchen transformation, a place where customers can create a unique and special kitchen design customized to their special needs through fine cabinetry and long-lasting, high-quality countertops.

That’s what people really want when they are looking for new cabinets or counter tops.  She needs to think beyond what she is selling (kitchen cabinets and countertops) to what people are buying (kitchen transformation).

Make sure you define the store in terms of the experiences you deliver to the consumer, not the thing that you sell.

This is critical advice for all retailers today:  You need to think beyond the things that you stock and sell in your store.  Your store’s description, its design and arrangement and all marketing communications need to focus on the specific experiences your shop delivers to the customer.

Expand How You Look at Your Store:
Not as a Store that Sells Certain Types of Things, but as a Shop that Delivers an Experience to the Consumer

Too many retailers are holding themselves back from reaching their full potential by defining their store in terms of what they sell, which in turn keeps the retailer focused on the product, and not on the shoppers’ experience.  This is a huge mistake.

Those of you who have done any business writing know that passive voice is where the subject of the sentence receives the action, for example, “The boy was stung by the bee.” By contrast, active voice is where the subject performs the action, “The bee stung the boy.” Passive voice simply makes your writing flat and uninteresting. Active voice, on the other hand, gives vibrancy to the ideas you express and makes your writing come to life.

Describing your store by focusing on what you sell is like writing in passive voice in your store’s description: a store that sells clothes; a store that sells home entertainment equipment; a store that sells skincare and cosmetics. Each of these is dull and ordinary.  It doesn’t set your store apart, nor does it connect with the consumer unless they recognize a specific need for what you have to sell.

By contrast, an active voice description connects with the consumer’s passion and makes the store relevant far beyond selling stuff: a shop where you can discover and express your personal style (for a fashion boutique); a store within a store where you can create a designer look for your bedroom (for a home furnishing store); or a store where floral professionals will create the ultimate flower expressions for your special event (for a florist).

The lesson for retailers is simple in today’s shopping environment where perfectly good product is available everywhere: Make sure you define the store in terms of the experiences you deliver to the consumer, not the thing that you sell.  It all comes down to expanding the way you think about your store, what you sell, and what you ultimately do for the customer.

This is an absolutely essential shift retailers must make.  Rather than putting the emphasis on the thing that you sell, put the emphasis on the experiences that you deliver to the customer.

Discover new ideas to help grow your retail business in Shops that POP!

Just as all gardeners know, they need to fertilize their gardens to provide nutrients and enrich the soil in order to maximize their garden’s yield.  So too specialty retailers need to fertilize their business with new ideas, innovative concepts and strategies that will help their businesses grow.  That is what my new book, Shops that POP! 7 Steps to Extraordinary Retail Success, from Paramount Market Publishing, can do for specialty retail businesses.Shops that POP! mini

Shops that POP! reveals specific, actionable strategies to transform a store from ordinary to extraordinary to make the store irresistible to customers.  The book leads with in-depth analysis of today’s evolving and demanding customers and emerging trends in retail.  Combined with engaging stories about retailers that have made their shops POP!, Shops that POP! tells how to craft a retailing experience that is irresistible to shoppers.

Shops that POP! explains seven principles that will make the independent retail shop one of the most successful ones in your home town. With the seven POP! principles, the interviews and case studies included in Shops that POP! plus links to the POP! retailers websites and social media, you are invited behind the curtain to see how the best of America’s specialty independent retailers have created their success. Plus you’ll have an arsenal of tools and powerful ideas that can help revitalize your business and your Main Street.


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