Oct 1, 2022
Fine-tuning your market performance

The hardest thing for me to do when I was a store manager was to try to look at the store with “fresh eyes” trying to see the store as a customer sees it for the first time. It’s difficult because we see it every day.

The business of retail is different these days of post-pandemic shopping. The customer’s journey to purchase takes many different routes.

Bob Phibbs, “the retail doctor,” has an article on his website, retaildoc.com, “9 Ways to Attract Customers to Your Store.” I’ll paraphrase some of them here because I think his suggestions can be useful in our farm markets.

  1. Evaluate your store operations. “Ask yourself what we are doing right and what might be going wrong. Evaluate your processes, allocation of labor, training, and marketing. List five things that are working and five things that aren’t.”
  2. Prioritize and change those things that aren’t working first. “Taking action with the purpose of making your business better makes you feel better.” Consider a clearance sale of dated merchandise or moving the entire store around to improve the visual merchandising.
  3. Focus on your associates. “If you make your employees feel good,” they will transfer that feeling to your customers and happy customers buy more. Find a way to make your employees’ day first, then your customers’ day, and they will make your day.
  4. Market to people who already know you. Do you have an email list? I hope so. “Use it in a personal way to invite customers into your market with something specific they might enjoy. Thanking your best customers for their business in a personal way brings them back in.” Use the subject line for a call to action. What do you want them to do?
  5. Use retail sales training. A common issue I hear is the employees don’t understand our products. One solution is to assign a department to an employee. It’s difficult for an employee who may not be involved with the farming operation to understand all the products that are offered at the market. If they are in charge of a particular department, they take “ownership” of that department and become the “go to” person for questions on products from that department.
  6. Become a student of Facebook. “Cultivate an online presence and learn as much as you can about attracting fans via social media, engaging them with live videos, and keeping them buying from you with live streaming. A well-structured marketing strategy must include all of those and be open to newer platforms like IGTV and even Tik Tok.”
  7. Fill your parking lot with cars. “With more people working from home, it is likely fewer are driving to your store. But If your parking lot is empty, it may look like you are closed or worse – out-of-business.  Remember, shoppers attract customers. You know that when your store is full, it gets fuller, and when it is dead, it is deader. Same with your parking lot. Here’s how to solve it. If you’ve always told employees to park in the back, have them park near your storefront to look busy, then have them move them when you are packed.”
  8. Stop talking to failing businesses. “If you hang out with five successful businesses, you’ll be number six. If you hang out with five failing ones, you’ll be number six as well. Stop asking other shop owners how their business is. If it’s great and yours isn’t, you’ll feel worse. If another business is worse, you still won’t feel better. Instead, ask them one good thing they did yesterday.”
  9. Fill up your Google My Business page. “Most consumers start their purchase journey online so don’t forget potential online customers! Use video, updated business hours during Covid-19, and add a virtual store tour. Go even further, create posts on that page that announce your social distanced events, new products, or promotions. And while it should go without saying, focus on getting more positive Google reviews as they are crucial to winning the top of local search. In fact, 72% of consumers that did a local search visited a store within five miles.”

I’ll add one last thought, consider the customer’s journey. How do they find you? Why did they come to the market? Understanding the journey gives a way to connect with your customer and keep them coming back.

Brian Moyer, Penn State Extension




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