Running a business is hard – even the most energetic and enthused entrepreneur have burn out days. The constant chase to remain fresh, relevant and engaged with your customer can take its a toll. Recently I met two owner/managers of a small retail chain targeting (20-35 year olds) who know their business inside out – stock on shelves, display setting, best employees in stores, etc. I’ve no doubt that every thing that happened in the store layouts and displays had been carefully thought out to ensure maximum sell.

However getting the owners to walk the floor as a customer was an eye opener and highlighted to them the importance of ranking the needs of your customer above all else. While many of the below points seem obvious, they are examples of problems we see in business across the country when corporate strategy overtakes the customer :

– 40% of the customer base most likely have a buggy and/or children with them. A number of the shop areas were inaccessible to buggies due to the display layout which had been designed with a view to selling additional lines. It was suggested that the spacing between be displays be reviewed to ensure the customer can access the product.

– Dressing rooms had no seating area for children so mothers were unlikely to try items on. As it was unlikely that higher priced items would be purchased without being tried on this immediately indicated lost sales. It was suggested that a seating area with fixed toy zone be introduced.

– Stores had a high volume of lunchtime shoppers with limited time to spend in store. It was noted in observation that the labelling of sizes as s/m/l was putting shoppers off an impulse purchase as they didn’t know the comparative sizing in 10/12, etc. It was suggested that the conversion chart be displayed in store.

These along with other observations once implemented had a notable effect on the retail chain’s turnover. Remember it is important to stop and walk through your business as your customer to make sure you are meeting their needs, after all it is them you are trying to impress!

Neal Morrison