Updated: Feb 8
Strengthening customer loyalty is more important than ever. This is not only because more consumers are shopping online, an issue affecting brick and mortar retail across the globe. The strongest reason for ensuring customers remain loyal is this: people are much more conscious of their spending habits, due to widespread economic upheaval. Showrooms have to put up a fight to stay in the minds of their customers so when those precious purchases are made, they are made in-store.
Taking specific actions during the months to come won’t just help the showroom weather the storm; it will inspire long-term confidence in the client.
There are so many ways to say thank you. It can be as simple as thanking clients for their continued patronage, or a more general expression of gratitude directed at the community. These days, messages acknowledging the difficulties people have faced over the past months can go a long way. Make sure that whatever message you put out is also hopeful and optimistic! Sharing a client and staff member’s story is a perfect way to get these messages out.
If you want to go further, how about showing gratitude by having special hours for at-risk groups or front-line workers? It may reduce the overall number of shoppers during those times, but offering those low-traffic hours may encourage those who haven’t felt safe enough to shop in-store to finally do so.
By offering these special hours, you can show a commitment to health and safety regulations that inspires confidence in all your customers, at-risk or not. Special shopping hours can also work great as a loyalty reward.
Promote the Buy Local message
Aside from throwing a “Buy Local” icon on your webpage, ads or social media posts, take the time to explain to your existing and prospective clients the importance of buying local during the pandemic. Some of the top reasons people buy local is because it helps people with the following:
Avoid supply chain issues
Get their items faster
Better customer service
Product and installation expertise
If any of your products are sourced locally, promote that message. Take the time to explain that buying local at all levels keeps money where it’s needed- in the community.
It’s really a win-win situation, but with the convenience of online shopping the message gets lost. It is worth focusing on the buy local message and walking the walk by supporting other local vendors and shops. It’s been shown that local purchases produce a return that’s three time higher than one made at a big-box store, and up to fifty times higher than purchases made from major online retailers.
So many showrooms are family-owned and operated and have been in the community for years- tell your story as a way to share the benefits of buying local. Then, you can move on to the more general benefits of shopping local. Have fun with this in your social media posts!
Make the Showroom Clean and Safe
In the decorative plumbing world, the physical store determines everything from the mood of the customer to the range of price points the store can offer. The look and feel of a showroom make a strong impression on customers, and during a pandemic situation, a dated, cluttered showroom will keep potential customers from coming in.
Do what is necessary to present a spacious, uncluttered showroom. It’s not about the look anymore, it’s really about making clients feel safe indoors by allowing them to be socially distant. Also, with less clutter, it is easier to sanitize display models as needed; people are definitely taking note of cleanliness in stores these days. This may mean removing displays in the middle of the aisles, curating the products with more care, or investing in new displays that allow for better product organization and layout possibilities.
Client Follow Up
Asking for feedback is a valuable exercise for your business, but also shows clients that their opinion matters. It’s these little things that keep physical retail stores, especially locally-owned ones, going strong. This type of action is why client-oriented businesses often run by families have an easier time establishing trust than huge corporations.
The people walking into the showroom, choosing it over a big-box plumbing or decorating store, are the people who care about their purchases and aren't necessarily looking for some great deal. These are the clients you want to have on your side, because if they trust you, they will be back (and they'll bring friends and family with them.)
Also, don’t forget to check in after a major sale to ask about their experience. If your client went through a major home renovation, touch base with them a few months after, and even one year after, to see if there is anything more you can do.
Make Customer Loyalty a Focus
The ups and downs of the past have left retailers and shoppers confused about in-store shopping. More and more people are turning to online shopping, perhaps out of convenience, but more likely out of anxiety of going into physical stores. In a situation like this, strengthening customer loyalty with the tips listed above can make a huge difference.