2. Stock niche brands. If your store has both the familiar and unfamiliar brands, it validates you've done your homework for the customer's benefit. So look for items that are unique or special in some way.
3. Specialize. Become a desired destination for certain shoppers. Whether it is bras, socks, insoles or nutrition, put a stake in the ground about certain departments where you offer the best in town. Then talk about it both in the store and when you advertise.
4. Hold events & become a place customers want to hang out. Many running stores are great at making their store a destination hang-out by implementing weekly running groups, newbie programs, educational clinics, lunch and learns and free conference rooms for local associations. These all remind your customers how great it is to be surrounded by people who love to run and how fun it is to go to a vibrant running store.
5. Create a membership program. Why not turn customers into members? This isn't as crazy as it sounds. After all, outdoor sports retailer R.E.I. has members. Members pay a small price but get a discount on purchases, invitations to special events, extra services and a greater feeling of attachment to your store.
6. Engage with customers on social media. The closer customers feel to you, the more likely they are to be loyal. Keep your messaging authentic, and regularly check your site's stats to see if what you are saying hits home with your fans. Post questions to encourage your customers to let their voice be heard. Treat your online audience as if they were a person walking through the front door of your business. Take the time to create a sense of community online that mirrors the one you've already created in-store.
7. Allow customers to run a tab. Everyone loves to be considered a regular. Create a program where they leave a credit card on file and just add to their tab when they come in.
8. Know your customer's preferences. Give them a call when the new model is coming in or when their favorite model is changing. Email them to drop by when a new apparel assortment shows up that fits their taste level.
9. Provide great service. Small businesses have to go the extra mile. This is what it's all about. Tune in to your customer so you know what they want. Make suggestions about future needs. "At some point, you will need to get _____." Make sure your customer knows you are looking out for them.
10. Do everything you can to remind people what they lose when they fail to support local stores: the convenience of shopping locally, the health and vibrancy of their town, and most importantly, tax dollars that support their schools, streets and safety. Lace up Local.
Are you in the US and in need of no cost retail point of sale advice? I'm happy to help and can be reached on my cell at 208-340-5632 (mountain time) or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.