As the business landscape becomes more customer-centric, a good first impression is everything. Building relationships is the first step toward making a sale. That means the way a new customer interacts with your business influences their buying decision. So it’s up to you as the entrepreneur to make that interaction smooth, seamless, and memorable.
A professional storefront is a good starting point, since it’s the first thing customers see. So, whether you are a retail entrepreneur or restaurant entrepreneur, you must know how to harness the power of your storefront to build rapport with prospects passing by your shop or crossing the streets. A retail storefront can be a very valuable marketing tool for your business if you know how to tweak it right. It carries significant potential in converting window shoppers into actual customers.
On the other hand, an ill-planned and poorly decorated storefront (i.e. poor lighting, haphazard inventory hanging around, broken door, bad smell, etc.) can turn clients away before they even walk in.
Besides the storefront, the back of the store should never be downplayed either because it defines the overall outlook of your business. You should therefore strive to keep your loading docks looking professional and doors in top-notch condition.
That said, at the end of your business day, it is not just a matter of how many people came by your store. Rather, it is more about the customer impressions your storefront raked in for the business. Keep scrolling as we explore in detail how your storefront dictates your customer conversion.
What is a storefront?
Think of a storefront as a display of your products in a space where customers and prospects alike can inspect and purchase those products. Storefronts can take a physical form as in the case of an enclosed or outdoor brick-and-mortar store or virtual form as in the case of an ecommerce website.
Setting up a professional storefront is usually the first step in establishing a solid connection with the public, letting them know of your presence either online or on-ground, or both. It marks the initial stages of broadcasting your products and services to your target customers while helping them convert much faster. Simply put, your storefront is the primary instrument of conveying your brand message to the general public.
Did you know that only 14% of retail purchases are done through ecommerce sites? This is according to the Brick and Mortar Retail Report. If that is the case, then where do the rest 86% make their purchases from? Brick and mortar retail stores, of course.
So, why don't they storm your store in such huge numbers? The problem lies in the impression your brand has on their customer experience. An integral part of making this experience better for your customers is letting your storefront agree with their expectations the minute they set their glances on your store.
That said, your storefront is a function of different components and should be kept in top condition at all times to keep your foot traffic flowing. Take a look at the major elements you need to work on.
Your storefront largely comprises a door, several or one large display window, bulkhead, transom, cornice, and pillars. However, the doors and windows are the chief contributors to the store's curb appeal.
Looking through your door or window even briefly can already tell a customer what you have to offer. The general perception among most buyers is that the outward store impression is just the tip of the iceberg of what lies inside.
So, the state of your doors especially is a big factor in inviting or turning off your target customers. Since you never get a second chance to make that first impression, making your storefront door attractive is imperative. If you think it is not a big deal, just imagine how easily an untidy, dingy, or obscure door puts off your customers and foot traffic. This could spell much doom for your bottom line.
So, how do you maintain your storefront door?
Modern architecture has given birth to endless structural improvements including glass and aluminum storefront doors. These doors have grown in popularity among many retail and restaurant operators not only for security reasons but also for the level of aesthetics they offer. One way to give your store a contemporary appearance is by upgrading to an aluminum or glass door.
With enhanced aesthetics come a positive impact on your business in form of attracting and pleasing customers. These doors also provide a crystal clear view of your store's interior making it easier for customers to be drawn to your merchandise. Without proper visibility, forget about communicating your unique selling point to your customers.
Visibility through your storefront door is also important because it helps you create a welcoming environment. That means each time a customer or passerby swings by, they get to feel comfortable deciding whether or not to come in.
With that in mind, keeping your storefront in tip-top shape demands proper maintenance of these heavily-invested doors. Here are a few regular maintenance tips:
Always keep an eye out for loose parts on the door, door misalignment, dragging door, odd sounds when using the door, difficulties closing the door, or challenges keeping the door shut.
Occasionally tighten loose door hardware.
Lubrication of hinges.
Constantly cleaning and lubricating locks.
Keeping your door clean at all times.
Preventative maintenance is your best shot in maintaining that highly sought-after good first impression from your customers and foot traffic. Remember, a problematic storefront door can potentially give your customers a negative first impression of your business.
While the back of your store may not be as exciting as the storefront, it is still an essential impression element. Even though it doesn't get full recognition, failing to properly organize it could amount to several implications for your overall business.
Start by upgrading the layout of your loading and unloading bay to a more professional standard. This will afford you better control of what's coming in and going out. With a tight grip in this area, you significantly reduce the risk of running out of stock for the business. Proper stock management ultimately breeds excellent customer service and loyalty.
Just like the storefront door, your back store door needs proper maintenance. That includes regular lubrication, hardware tightening, balancing, lock replacement, and overall cleaning or painting for a fresh new look. Therefore, your regular maintenance schedule for both doors should align to ensure consistency in the overall outlook of the store.
Furthermore, don't forget your stockroom. Keeping it organized helps avoid mixing up customer orders and shipments. Ultimately this guarantees a seamless flow of business while minimizing customer disappointment.
Your storefront signage is what distinguishes you from the competition while helping you draw attention to your business. Great signage helps you tell your brand story to the world effortlessly. It broadens the customer's perspective and they may find themselves buying something outside their shopping list.
Signage has the power to capture attention from far, keep your wares organized, and drive foot traffic inside the store. Think of it as a road sign. In the same way they help people navigate the streets, proper signage helps in making the shopping journey of your customers as quick and efficient as possible.
A good example is outdoor signage depicting a special offer or a front-window display featuring a selection of seasonal merchandise to draw people from afar and tempt them to step inside the store. Other forms of signage like 'shop local' or 'employee favorites' help your products to easily stand out from the pack.
The way you design your storefront determines whether it ultimately becomes a welcoming space or not. A customer bombarded by cluttered racks and shelves as they come in will not go further than the entrance. Such clutter only tells them you don't need their patronage inside. So ensure you create a smooth transition from the window display to the actual customer experience inside the store.
As part of the design, avoid screaming at your potential customers. Minimizing exclamation marks and capital letters on your signage can help with this. Simply communicate the idea of what's inside in a warm, understandable, and welcoming way and leave it at that.
Visibility of your store is also key in design. Choose the right kind of lighting to boost this crucial storefront aspect. Neon signs are especially perfect for distinguishing your store almost immediately. Lastly, if you own or operate multiple stores, strive for consistency in the design, signage, and product display.
To drive more foot traffic to your business, maintaining a neat, inviting, and polished storefront is paramount. No one will be drawn to a store with a partially lit sign, peeling paint, or disorganized, dusty, and outdated window display.
A clean and inviting store exterior determines the number of new customers willing to try out your store. So, how do you maintain an appealing and welcoming storefront? Apply these simple routines:
With a great storefront, nothing can stop you from turning a window shopper into a real shopper. That means an exceptional storefront is a must-have modern marketing strategy. The odds of a window shopper converting are very high because they are a very impressionable lot. As soon as they spot something they like, chances are they will hop in. If they don't buy immediately, they will definitely save the purchase for another time or look around and find something else that interests them.
So, if you want to tap into the humongous untapped window shoppers market, an outstanding storefront is the way to go.
Thanks to technology, traditional retail storefronts are rapidly changing. Weaving technological advancements such as surveillance cameras, fire alarms, or security systems into storefront designs can make a customer feel safer approaching your store as well as help in deterring criminals.
Door access control systems have also found their way in many retail stores and provide a great way to curb theft and unnecessary customer interference. This helps in boosting your customers' overall shopping confidence. Some stores are also using video technology to regulate the number of people getting in to minimize overcrowding. For customers who place a premium on convenience, this is a great impression.
First impressions are incredibly important as they can last a lifetime. In a world where visibility is key and consistency is quality, a good storefront shows the professionalism of your company from afar. Even to window shoppers. And because window shopping is a big part of business, be a store that passersby want to look into!
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