Let’s face it, online shopping is here to stay. In addition to seeing an increase in online sales, we are also seeing an increase in offline sales influenced by what customers search for online. What this means is that your customers encounter an online retail experience that is personalized, well organized, visual and designed to lead them naturally and efficiently towards a purchase. Main street retailers can take a cue from e-commerce sites by incorporating the very best of the online retail experience into their brick and mortar shop by following these tips to improve your retail space.


Tip #1: Identify Your Target Market

It all starts with knowing who your likely customer is and what value your product or service is providing to them. If you are in business and feeling stuck, start by making a list of the qualities that make up your very favorite customers.

  • What is their age, gender and marital status?
  • Are they looking for the essentials or an extra treat?
  • How does your product or service address the need or problem that your favorite customer has?

Answering these questions will help you better understand your customers and target your message.

Tip #2: Define and Organize Your Space

When you think back to your favorite customers, are they in-and-out in under five minutes or do they linger and chat with your staff and other customers? You want there to be a consistent style and function to your store that speaks to this. For example, if I owned a bookstore and I know that my favorite customers are those who cozy up and hang out to review their potential purchases, I might provide little nooks that encourage this activity.

Take a minute to evaluate how your store is organized. You want your customers to understand the path and layout of the store. Do you need to improve your signage? (for my bookstore this could include little diagrams for where each genre of book is located or where to find the bathroom!) A well-organized store is one that makes your customers feel welcome and comfortable, therefore making the path to purchasing much easier.

Tip #3: Provide a Sequential Experience and Visual Communication that Supports it

Spend some time thinking through how customers move through your store. Going back to my bookstore example, if I know that fiction gets customers into the door of my store I might have my fiction and best-sellers right in front. I might also have signage pointing customers to other popular sections, which will drive them deeper into the store. Since I already know that I like customers to have the opportunity to linger, I might set up comfy chairs throughout the store to encourage this behavior — maybe with a sign by these chairs that encourages customers to leave what they don’t want so they don’t have to remember where they got it!

Tip #4: Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Good Customer Service!

The retail experience you’ve created for customers hinges on having staff who are able — and available — to answer questions. Encourage your staff to give out recommendations and be an active participant in the customer experience. Also, if your employees don’t have any recommendations, provide some options for them to choose from so they can be helpful to the customer and provide them a quality retail experience.

By incorporating the best of the online shopping experience into your brick-and-mortar retail space, you’re not only making it easier for customers to purchase your product, you’re building a relationship with them that will result in a loyal customer base and repeat business.

For more help on how to improve your retail space, contact your local Wyoming Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network advisor today for no-cost, confidential advice and technical assistance by clicking here.

About the Author: Sarah’s love for helping small businesses started when she was in high school working for a local, family-owned sporting goods store in northeast Ohio. Sarah specializes in social media and digital marketing, working with clients statewide to get their businesses online. When she’s not in the office, Sarah is plotting mountain and river adventures with her husband and three-legged pup, experimenting in the kitchen, and volunteering in the Lander community.

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