In the future, retailers must offer better service to increasingly impatient customers.
• Faster, more convenient service will be key, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through a Web site on the Internet.
• Customers will want to find all they need under one roof.
• Entertainment retailing that uses all the senses and presents a mood-altering experience for the whole family will be an important trend. Allen even suggests stores lighted by candles.
• Offer lifestyle improvements for the home.
• Offer time-saving shopping—convenience, no hassles.
• Present better pricing and add more service to counter higher prices.
• Educate customers about products.
It is imperative that retailers present a focused approach to retailing.
• Your store must become a distinct brand with a strong identity. Develop a catchphrase to identify it as well as unique signs, visual displays and graphics.
• When it comes to selling and servicing, one size does not fit all. Unique marketing makes you stand out from the competition. Does your logo, business card, packaging and display describe your business?
• Advertising cannot just promote a sale. It must indicate why someone should go to your store.
• You must know—precisely—who your customers are, the percentages of men and women, and their needs.
Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, expect the retailer to be honest, loyal and to know their products.
Gen Xers, now 23 to 34 years old, expect visuals and respect. They do not want a Boomer-aged retailer to imply that they have bad taste or that they are unmotivated.
Gen Y, five to 20 years old, are future customers and employees who are now learning to shop. They also are known as Gen Why as in "Why do I have to do this?" They are smarter than Gen X and some 60 percent have their own computers.
Gender Selling. A man selling to a woman must build rapport and show her respect. A women selling to a man must show she knows what she is talking about, appear confident and get to the bottom line quickly.
Old ideas are new again.
• We are moving from the Information Age to the Lifestyle Age.
• Think of the resurgence of Krispy Creme doughnut stores as an example. They have transformed the doughnut-making process into an innovative, museum-like experience.
Build a strong team and keep staff focused.
• Recognition can be more important than money. Give small bonuses such as restaurant gift certificates more often.
• Share with employees where the company is going, what your vision is for growth and strategic planning.
Tips for designing a Web site.
• Register a domain name.
• Consider the concept and see what works for others.
• Design the site with a Webmaster or consultant.
• Ensure the site provides good navigation and information.
• Upgrade and improve the site constantly.
Marketing a Web site.
• Publicize your site everywhere: on voice mail, business cards, billboard and print advertising, in the store window, at the cash register, through an electronic newsletter, via search engines and directories.
• Yahoo! is the top Web directory. Fifty percent of all searches are made on Yahoo!
• There are 20,000 search engines, but only the top 30 are important—most of the others get their information from the top ones.
• You want your site to be at the top of the list when a potential customer types in a keyword in order to ensure your customers find you. Webmasters and consultants know how to list keywords to be the most effective for your site.
• Search engines and directories have different priorities and look for different information about each Web site. You have an opportunity to move up your site listing on a major search engine if you follow its guidelines.
How to get people to your site.
• Produce a contest.
• Update a "What's New" or "Ask the Expert" section.
• Create a discussion board.
• Conduct and report on surveys.
Web site killers.
• Too many graphics and gadgets that take forever to download.
• Links that send visitors off your site so they have trouble returning.
• "This site (or page) under construction" messages.
• Dark backgrounds that take a long time to download.
• Hard to read text such as yellow words on a white background.
• An unprofessional image created through spelling errors, poor grammar or amateurish graphics.
• It is considered rude to show a list of e-mail addresses when sending out an electronic newsletter because some of your customers guard the privacy of their addresses. Use a reputable e-mail mailing list and delivery service to ensure that the whole "Send to" list will not appear.
• In building an e-mail list, ask customers for their e-mail address and name only. If you ask for too much information up front it might make some people nervous and defeat the purpose, which is to have a way to reach a lot of potential customers both efficiently and conveniently.