Most retailers welcome the holidays with open arms but will admit to nagging anxiety in the pit of their stomachs: a retail experience during the holidays can make or break your business. For the customer, a retail experience needs to be flawless. They are using their precious holiday time (probably with the family in tow) to support your business. As selfish as it may sound, I’m sure that you’ll agree that when you’re sitting at a restaurant or out shopping, YOUR experience as the customer is the only one that matters to you. But what does this mean for your business as a retailer?
If the customer has a fantastic experience you may get a good review and repeat business. If the customer has a bad experience, you’re likely to lose the customer and they may well instantly post it on social media and personally tell at least 9 people! This could have serious implications as these negative posts are often reshared and thus gain an even larger audience.The sad thing is that the unhappy customer could have just walked out and not raised their concerns which means that the scathing review comes as a surprise.
As a business, I’m sure that you are committed to providing your customers with a flawless experience 365 days a year, but during the holidays - when foot traffic can double - it's recommended that a little extra care is taken to ensure you are prepared.
Because a customer will form an impression of your business within seconds, it’s important that they form the right one when they walk through the door. Consider the following:
- Ensure that you order adequate stock in advance so that your shelves, or kitchen pantry, are well stocked.
- Brief your team in advance around the importance of the holiday season and ensure that display shelves are neatly packed and that the shop front is clean and tidy.
- Do you have a branded mat at your entrance door? Mats create a welcoming feeling but also prevents dirt from being tracked into your store and help prevent slips and falls.
- Have you considered scenting? Scenting can be used to reinforce your brand but it can also drive behaviours within your store. As an example, the smell of fresh bread is known to make customers hungry. For more information on the impact of scenting, download the Business Impact of Scenting Report here.
- Have you looked at your bathroom lately? In a recent blog titled Restaurant hygiene challenges and how Initial solves them: Part 1 we shared this startling fact;
“ Initial research also found that unpleasant washroom smells leave nearly 80% of people with a negative perception of a business, and nearly a quarter feel compelled to tell friends or family about their unpleasant experience. Initial also discovered that an unpleasant smelling washroom could impact consumer behaviour, with 60% choosing to leave immediately or not return at all.”
It is important to ensure that you have a strong daily cleaning regime in place, supported by a rigorous hygiene regime. Having the right mix of hygiene services will ensure that odours are under control, soap dispensers and toilet paper units are stocked and urinals, feminine hygiene units and nappy disposal units are well maintained.
- If you have a kitchen ensure that it is prepared to run at maximum capacity and that all maintenance is done before the rush. I would recommend a kitchen deep clean before the season starts, as well as checking that your grease traps are in perfect working order.
- Ask your pest control provider to do a thorough inspection of your premises to ensure all pest management standards are met and that your patrons aren’t surprised by a cockroach behind the Chanel or a rat in the kitchen.
- Are you prepared for load shedding? Unfortunately, load shedding is a reality in South Africa and although currently suspended, rather be safe than sorry. If you have a generator, ensure that you have enough fuel stocked, and make sure you have enough lanterns to create that perfect ambience. Make sure you have a selection of smaller bills so that you can provide the right amount of change if your patrons pay cash during load shedding.
- Don’t forget to smile :D