How to Put Shoppers in the ‘Comfort Zone’

Consumers will decide in the first three to five seconds if they are comfortable in your store. Making shoppers comfortable in your specialty tennis retail environment as soon as possible is a critical factor in your conversions and your store’s close rate and, of equal importance, in consumer satisfaction with your retail brand.

* Start with your main entrance. When you or your staff opens your store each day, make the first tasks sweeping and cleaning the sidewalk or paved area that leads to your main entrance. Make sure glass doors and windows are cleaned regularly. Remove and toss any old, out-of-date signs—and invest in sign-making software or find a local sign shop. It’s better to have no signs than to have unreadable or hand-scrawled signs. And scrape off all decals and fliers that are taped to your entrance door and windows. Shoppers will be more comfortable with a clean and inviting entrance to your store.

* Create a neutral transition zone. First-time shoppers entering a store need a bit of neutral space, or a transition zone, to process where they are and figure out where they want to go, so make sure your entrance isn’t crowded or jammed with displays. This is true even for the smallest stores. And be aware that the vast majority of shoppers entering a store at a normal walking speed will simply not recognize or react to signs or merchandise displays that immediately crowd them or get in their face the instant they come through the door. It’s better to create a transition zone than waste the space with a cluttered front entrance that shoppers won’t react to.

* Practice “recovery” regularly during the day and at close. Keeping your store environment neat, clean and inviting needs to be part of your daily operating process, including sweeping, vacuuming and mopping the floors and dusting and polishing the counters, fixtures and displays. Folding (and re-folding) clothing on display and putting out fresh stock needs to be scheduled several times a day so your store environment looks inviting and ready for each shopper’s journey, whether that’s first thing in the morning or the last customer of the day. Going through a recovery checklist after closing ensures that you will be ready for the first shoppers the next morning.

* Turning right. There are volumes of research to back up the simple fact that shoppers will turn to the right when entering a retail environment if it is possible to do so. If your store allows shoppers to turn to the right after they enter and go through the transition zone, place “power displays” up front and directly in shoppers’ line of sight as they turn to the right.

* Power displays. These are where you prominently display the latest merchandise or sale items that you want to feature and make sure shoppers see. They are typically among the largest displays in your store, and because of their importance, they need to be kept neat, clean and well stocked. And they also need to be changed as frequently as your most frequent customers visit your store; even if the featured merchandise doesn’t change, make sure the display itself is re-configured and re-dressed.

* Once your shoppers have seen a display they tend to forget it’s there. You need to keep all of your displays fresh and “new” so frequent and returning shoppers find something new and interesting, even though they may have seen the actual products before.

* Aisles. Your store aisles take shoppers on their journey, and, while it may be a challenge for smaller stores, aisles need to be wide enough to accommodate strollers and allow two adults to pass without touching. Research shows that if a woman is put in an uncomfortable situation where she touches or is touched by another shopper to get through an aisle, the shopping visit is over.

* Give shoppers the tools to shop. Many specialty retailers forget completely about making it convenient to actually shop their stores! Providing shopping carts, bags or baskets encourage shoppers to stay and actually shop. This is so simple that it is too often overlooked. Even if your store is small, make sure shoppers have what they need to stay and shop. It’s all part of making your store “sticky.”

* Seating shows you care. Finding creative ways to provide seating will help increase conversions, close rates and average transaction value. Make sure there is some type of seating, with mirrors associated with shoe displays and also changing or fitting rooms. Women often shop together and will spend more time trying on shoes and clothing if there is seating for their companion. Seating also is important for the significant other who comes in with the shopper; make them comfortable by providing a place to at least sit while the shopper…shops!

For upcoming TIA retail webinar, and to view previous webinars, visit TennisIndustry.org/webinars.

This is part of a series of retail tips presented by the Tennis Industry Association and written by the Gluskin Townley Group (www.gluskintownleygroup.com).