Debi Boulton looks at how merchants can build on their offering
With competition more fierce than ever in a growing industry, it’s important that merchants think of extra ways to engage with customers, drive sales and ultimately do all they can to have a successful summer.
There are a number of smart methods that can be put in place to maximise opportunities that are out there. There’s an abundance of little extras you can do to capitalise on things that are readily available and ultimately make sure customers come through your door rather than your competitor’s. Let’s take a look at a few…
·Work closely with suppliers
Can your suppliers be supporting you more? Now’s the time to make sure you’re getting the most out of your relationship. Talk to them about literature for starters; having handy product swatches or key chains at the tills that you can flick through or give away when a customer asks for advice projects knowledge, professionalism and a desire to provide the best customer service possible. Does your supplier have an app? If so, ensure it’s downloaded so you’re kept in the loop with product news. Apps are also very handy to ensure you can pick up tips and hints whilst on the job and you can encourage your customers to do the same!
·Embrace new technology
As technology is rapidly evolving, it’s vital to ensure you keep up-to-date with new mechanics that make your job easier. Social media, and particularly Twitter, is a great tool to use to ensure you reach your target audience, as a very large number of tradesmen are now vocal on social media. Twitter needs to be considered when thinking about how to attract new customers and as a way to continue to engage with existing ones. Obviously not all of your customers will use smartphones and tweet day and night, but they might appreciate the odd newsletter or two keeping them in the loop about new stock and the latest offers. You should also maximise suppliers’ online tools to ensure any product knowledge is top-notch; Dunlop’s E-Learning platform has a wealth of online resources readily available for merchants to guarantee confidence when discussing the range with tradesmen.
·Dust off, or invest in new, point of sale (POS);
While it’s not ground breaking advice, the way your stock is presented can have a real effect on sales. Think about the POS you’re using at the tills – what opportunities are there to cross sell? Think about how your branch looks to your customers too; essentially POS positioning is just as important as the special offer it promotes. So don’t leave worn and torn A-boards sitting outside your branch looking unloved. Instead, invest in new POS materials and print to prove that you understand that first impressions count.
·Consider your staffs’ training needs
Making sure your staff are on tip top form is of utmost importance. They need to be able to talk about the products available confidently and enthusiastically. Liaise with your key suppliers regarding training opportunities; you’ll be surprised about how many have dedicated personnel in place to ensure merchants can offer their customers the very best experience.
· Engage with your customers – how can you help them?
What can you do to show your customers that you appreciate their business and want them to keep coming back? Can you hook up with suppliers and put on new product demo days, training events or trade days? Can you hand out bacon butties on a Monday morning, or just throw in a voucher for money off their next purchase? It’s often the little things that can make a big difference…
While these may not all be relevant to each and every merchant nationwide, hopefully there’s some food for thought and a few ideas to pick and choose from. Let’s try and build on our industries growth and make 2014 another successful year!
Debi Boulton is brand manager at Dunlop,