Not every business owner has the opportunity for a full-scale retail makeover from a team of consultants, but it is possible — and necessary — to evaluate the look and condition of your space with a critical eye. In this article, we look at three things you can do to give yourself a fresh perspective on your store.
Knowing your customer is the basis for many things, from branding to merchandising to the condition of your store. You want a business that appeals to people who spend money on custom framing. This isn’t a large market, which makes it easier to define and cater to them. Many business owners think they know who their customers are, but if you haven’t kept tabs on changes in the market, you may not know them as well as you expect.
1. Consider Your Customer
Research shows that custom framing is an industry in transition. Forces like increased online shopping, economic downturns, and emerging generations have impacted many businesses. Yet, things like the Buy Local movement and a nity for customization present opportunities for custom framers. Among other things, what this has created is a different customer profile from what existed in the past. From a national perspective, today’s custom framing consumer skews younger, has a higher income, and is more educated. This person is tech-savvy and uses the internet to research and make purchases.
In your local market, there may be other factors that influence your customer profile. For example, Kirstie Bennett of The Framer’s Workshop in Berkeley, CA, has a highly educated client base because of her store’s location. While Retail Makeover winner Sheri Wright of Fourth Corner Frames and Gallery in Bellingham, WA client base has a strong independent culture and Buy Local attitude.
What does your customer profile have to do with the look of your store? People like to shop in places that align with their self-image. In fact, according to research by Morpace, a market research and consulting firm, 40 percent of consumers won’t even enter a store that doesn’t look like someplace they would shop. Products and services are just part of the package. If you know who your customer is, you can find out what they like to see in a store, and what kind of atmosphere appeals to them. You can then determine if your shop is the type that would draw that customer in, and, if not, what you need to change .
2. Compare Yourself To Other Businesses
Comparing your store to others is another way to gain some insight for a fresh perspective. This includes competitors; neighboring businesses that help bring foot traffic to your area, and retailers that target a similar type of customer. The tactic for this is simple. Visit other stores that you think do a good job of attracting the type of customer you would like to serve. Assess the curb appeal.
Take note of the sensory experience. What do you see when you walk in? How about once you venture further into the space? What kind of colors and decor are they using? How is their merchandise organized? Consider three to five things you could do in your own shop that you aren’t already. Here is a checklist to help you with this activity. If possible, visit these stores more than once to get a feel for how their merchandising and other visuals change.
3. A Fresh Pair Of Eyes
It’s hard to take a critical look at an environment you work in almost every day. But this new perspective is essential if you plan to make changes to update, refresh and maximize your space. The solution involves finding someone who can give you feedback on your space. Perhaps you can engage the critical eye of a fellow business owner or a friend whose opinion you trust. Regardless of who you choose, you’ll want someone who is:
- Honest: The hardest feedback to give will likely be the most valuable to you, so make sure you engage someone you know will be comfortable delivering the bad news as well as the good.
- Your Target Customer: Someone who knows your audience very well. Think about why kinds of businesses serve customers who shop for higher-end, quality products. Retailers like wine shops, specialty food stores, or one-of-a-kind gift or home decor shops are possibilities to explore.
- Understands Retail: Someone experienced with small businesses will be able to give more specific feedback, while someone who has never worked in retail before may be more vague in their comments.
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This article is intended for educational purposes only and does not replace independent professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinion or position of Tru Vue or its employees. Tru Vue does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented.