When walking through the front door of a retail store, many times you’ll see the eager, smiling employee assigned to welcome guests standing at-the-ready. You likely already know what line he or she is going to blurt out:
“Welcome to (your store), can I help you find something today?”
What many retailer owners and managers still don’t understand is that the majority of customers have already figured out the program, and have one big fat “no” also at-the-ready. For many shoppers, the lack-luster question makes them feel awkward if they simply wanted to browse or take a chance on finding something new. With so many consumers shopping for entertainment, why should retailers assume they came in with a mission?
“When someone walks into a shop for the first time, it takes them a moment to adjust and get comfortable with their surroundings,” says Catherine Roberts, a contributor for The Spring Collective. “If you don’t give them that breathing space, you risk triggering a flight or fight response.”
As a consumer, it can be frustrating when a staff member gives a long-winded explanation of the sales in-store, especially when you didn’t ask for them. Retailers should stop the “information overload” and keep the initial greeting simple. Roberts recommends asking shoppers: “Are you happy just having a browse?”
She explains that this welcome message takes the pressure off of customers to buy. If a customer did come in with the intention of buying a particular item, now is their opportunity to ask if you have it in-stock, or where it’s located in-store.
Pro Tip: When a customer does ask where a product is located, walk them over instead of pointing them in the right direction. Andrew Jensen, a business advisor, says: “It will only take a few seconds and your customer will appreciate your time and effort.” This is also your employee’s opportunity to explain the item is a top-seller, the different product can be styled, what other items pair well with it, or that it happens to be on sale.
On the other hand, retailers shouldn’t be silent or hidden. Not acknowledging your customers’ presence is rude, and also opens the door for shoplifting. According to Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor, “80 percent of customers never return to businesses due to perceived indifference from staff. 80 percent want to be noticed. 100 percent want a friendly greeting.”
Phibbs recommends greeting customers with: “Good afternoon, welcome to (your store name) feel free to look around and I’ll be right back.” This gives shoppers a few items to note in just one line:
- That they’re safe to browse
- They have time to soak in their surroundings
- The retailer acknowledges them
- If they have any questions or need help, you’ll be close by
Of course, it’s important to make the connection full-circle when a walk-in returns to your storefront. “If you recognize a customer from a previous visit, say so. ‘It’s nice to see you again!’ or ‘We’re happy to have you back!’ are good options for a customer whose name you don’t know,” says Meredith Wood, the editor-in-chief at Fundera.
Pro-Tip: Never be smug about a customer returning to your store. A retailer once asked me, “You just couldn’t stay away, could you?!” Needless to say, I haven’t returned since. Always be grateful, and letting your customers know you remember them says a lot.
If you have any five-star greetings that work well with your shoppers, we want to hear them!
Need merchandise that will give your walk-ins a good first impression? Register to attend the upcoming OFFPRICE Show, February 3-6 in Las Vegas, or start buying today through OFFPRICE365, the online marketplace.