If your store hasn’t changed in a decade, it needs an update. A fresh store front and key interior changes improves store awareness and increases foot traffic. There are many ways to improve your store image and curb appeal. First, consider the exterior, interior and digital image your store and your employees project.
Nine Ways to Improve Your Store Image
It Begins Outside
- Exterior Awning and Signs. A new awning with an updated logo goes a long way to giving your store a “grand opening” impression. Begin by looking at your store front and address peeling paint or a dirty entryway. Make sure lights are in working order. Remove old decals, stickers and posters. Then consider using a custom decal with your store logo and hours in a new color to attract attention. Awnings and signs are like advertisements that are on 24/7.
- Curbside Extras. Depending on your neighborhood, consider adding flowers in urns on either side of your door. Or a chalkboard sandwich board to advertise and sometimes just delight passersby. A chalkboard sandwich board also doubles as a social media content generator. First, take a picture of it. Then post it to your media channel of choice. Even sidewalk chalk can add humor and interest on the sidewalk outside your door. Welcome people in or give them a smile on the way out.
Focus on Your Team
- Improve Customer Service. A tried and true way to increase customer return trips to your shop is to make sure their visits are engaging and helpful. Make sure they are trained, well cared for (by you!) to develop a deep well of patience and empathy for customers. We all know customers can be surly and even wrong…but they are always the customer. So when employees see you dealing well in difficult circumstances, they can learn how to react in tough times.
- Vaporize Standing Around. If customers walk into your shop and see employees leaning and bored, there is an immediate lack of energy in your store. Employees who are busy keep energy levels high in the store. Customers who see bored employees through the window or door are less likely to enter simply because of the anticipation of poor customer service. Employees need reasonable tasks like cleaning, organizing and merchandising to keep your store looking fresh and entice customers inside to shop.
Build Your Brand
- Institute a New Uniform. Let your staff help you create a new uniform like embroidered shirts or ¾ aprons. If your employees are coming to the store wearing their own clothing, make sure they are presenting the professional look you want and the safety you need. If you do not already have a policy against halter tops, flip flops, bike shorts and hats in the store, address that with everyone in the staff. Then introduce the new uniform element and let them know that there is a new standard for professionalism and branding. Be vigilant. Letting just one employee drop the uniform will bring on an avalanche of woe. If your employees have had some input into the uniform change, it is likely to go more smoothly. Not everyone will like it at first. In summary, remain consistent.
- Showcase Click and Collect. If you allow customers to order online and collect at the store, make sure the storefront holding area is clean and well branded. Your click and collect bins or lockers should be well signed to help other customers learn about your newest service.
- Bags and Packing Materials. If unboxing videos on YouTube have taught us anything, it is that post-purchase is a critical part of the brand experience. Your bags should be durable and well designed. Your shopping bag is a store-branded element that leave the store with your customers. So, is it something they will carry with pride? Did you purchase it for its quality? Bags that are re-used become additional exposure for your brand. So if you think of bags and boxes only as expense items, you are missing a marketing opportunity. Online shipping boxes are one of the few ways to become memorable to your customers. Your bags and boxes are more than a transportation tool. Used correctly, they become extensions of your brand into the marketplace.
- Hold Events & Classes.Of course, it has to be relevant. While you may have enough room to hold a yoga class, that is discouraged unless yoga enthusiasts are your key customers. The content of your events can become part of an email campaign and could fuel a dozen social media posts. As you look to combat online encroachment, events are one way that brick and mortar stores can push back against low priced online sellers.
- Be active online. If you are only using one social media platform it is like trying to reach all of your customers with only one magazine. Everyone reads something different. The same is true with social media. Instagram has hit over 1 billion users and is growing at a feverish 20%+ annual rate. The key demographic is millennials who are gaga for color. With a focus on beautiful pictures, you can reinforce your store’s environment with millennials.
Your store image is an important asset that needs attention and maintenance just like the equipment you use. For most stores, a re-branding or refresh is in the budget every 5-7 years. So once you select the items you intend to attack, make sure you make the most of it with plenty of marketing to announce your new image. Create a “re-grand opening” style event to spark interest and awareness. Staying with the times and being seen as a thriving successful business is a part of becoming a thriving successful business.