Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How to take customers from your competitors (nicely!)

Uh oh! Here comes another pram. Yikes - and a toddler too! It's yet another parent battling to do their shopping with kids in tow.

Do your staff know how to deal with an incoming mother and her tired kids? She wants to spend. She NEEDS to spend.

So how do you and your staff ensure she spends her budget in YOUR store, rather than walking out in frustration and going up the road to your competitor.

When a customer comes in to the store with children, it is often difficult to engage them in the sales process because they are distracted by their kids. Because some sales staff believe they won’t get a sale from a customer with kids in tow, parents can sometimes feel ignored or unwelcome.

Here are a few tips you and your staff can use to make it easier for everyone when children visit the store.

1. Greeting

A friendly greeting to both parent and child goes a long way towards creating a favourable first impression with the parent and doesn’t take much effort.

When you or your staff greet a child, get down to their level and say hi with a big smile, without getting too close. Children respond to a smile but shy away or get upset if you get “in their face”.

2. Get a play solution and use it as a sales tool

Having a safe play solution in-store gives your sales team the opportunity to open a dialogue with the customer whilst simultaneously offering a greatly appreciated customer service. A good introduction might be:

“Hello, how are you. I just want to let you know we have a play panel over here which the children may like to play with while you browse.”

This is a great example of how to turn a browser into a buyer. Without the play solution, that opportunity wouldn’t exist.

A play solution keeps the parent in the store and we all know the longer a customer stays in the store, the more likely they are to make a purchase.

3. Change room antics

If the parent is trying something on, ensure the child is in the change room with him or her. Whilst it is not advisable to offer to look after the child whilst mum or dad is changing, let the parent know that you’ll cover the exits, just in case there’s an escape attempt! It’ll give them peace of mind just knowing you’re keeping an eye out.

4. Bratty behaviour

If a child starts to create havoc in your store, politely let the parent know and ask them to take the child’s hand. Unfortunately, if someone is injured in your store because of the actions of an unruly child, the liability rests with you – the store owner – so it’s in your interests to ensure the parent controls the child. Never touch a child yourself unless the parent has given you permission.

5. Fifty cent gifts for a $50 sale?

Keep a jar of little gifts you can give away to kids. Remember, they are your customers of the future so you want them to associate your store with pleasant memories. Lollies aren’t always appreciated by parents and can be controversial, but fun stickers are a good idea – kids love them and they’re inexpensive. Just make sure to get the parent’s permission as the child might be younger than you think and put them straight in their mouth!

6. A great reason to contact your customers

Do you have an email database of customers that you correspond with infrequently? Here’s a great reason to get in touch with them. Let all your customers know your store is now child friendly.

Trust me, when a parent knows they will be able to shop in your store knowing their child is going to be occupied by something (anything!), they will flock to your door.

Go on, try it. Implement some or all of these tips this week in your store. The edge you gain might just transform your retail revenues from good to great!

Michelle Barraclough is a director of Child Friendly Solutions Pty Ltd which specialises in in-store play solutions –
(02) 9984 0769.