Whether it’s your third location or fiftieth, retailers should focus on these six priorities that will strengthen the first 60 days of a store’s opening
For new retail store locations, the first 60 days of a store’s grand opening is anything but a honeymoon phase. As a retailer, you’re tasked with a myriad of responsibilities that can set the tone for your store’s longevity. And even if you’ve experienced great success with previous locations, no amount of winning can guarantee a new location will thrive.
In this article, we’re sharing insight into six key things retailers must focus on to help make the first 60 days of their next store’s opening a success.
Invest in first impressions
You only have one chance to make a strong first impression, and in the retail world, a first impression can have a significant impact on your brand.
Positive initial experiences are the beginnings of meaningful relationships with your customers. They take into account the way your store looks, how it smells and sounds, the temperature of the room, and how every aspect of your store makes them feel, right down to the fitting rooms.
The store layout itself has a lot to do with all of these elements. Customers should be able to navigate your store intuitively. They need to have access to employees for questions or price checks, locate product information and feel fulfilled after they visit. If one or more of these goals are unattainable for your customers, their first visit may be their last.
Retailers can optimize their customers’ first impressions by improving customer touchpoints throughout the store. For example, you can create impactful displays that inspire your buyers and reflect your brand, or make a hybrid space where customers can test products or grab coffee in-store while shopping. The key is to avoid chasing revenue and instead opting for alignment in brand, products, and ambiance — revenue will naturally follow.
Concentrate on customer service
The way your customers perceive your staff is essential during the first 60 days of a store opening. The general chaos of fine-tuning your new location carries a risk that some aspects of the customer experience will be overlooked. Perhaps you didn’t hire enough people, or you experience a greater influx of customers than you planned for and aren’t able to deliver the one-on-one service you envisioned.
Likewise, you also don’t want to go overboard on customer service and chase your customers away with too much attention. Employees should be accessible, friendly, and willing to help customers without being overbearing or following customers around the store.
Research shows that good customer service can increase customer satisfaction by 33%, or as much as 73% in certain retail niches like fashion. And happier customers are return customers.
Focus on the second visit
Getting people through your door for the first time can be challenging enough, with or without the buzz of an official store grand opening. But what’s more important during your first 60 days is giving your new customers a reason to return.
This is often accomplished by making a strong first impression, in terms of your store’s ambiance, product selection, customer service, or even a coupon or special offer for their next visit.
It’s also essential to begin building the relationship that will continue after they leave your store for the first time. For example, you might collect an email address upon checkout or display an email signup sheet for a giveaway item, which will ignite your email marketing strategy. Or, you could change your window display on a weekly or even daily basis during your first 60 days to give passersby something new to look forward to.
The objective is to give your customers such an amazing experience during their first visit that they have every incentive to return, and become loyal, repeat customers.
Adjust your hiring and training strategy
During your first 60 days, there are usually adjustments that need to be made around the processes and interactions of the employees you’ve already hired. Even when you have set employee practices in your other locations that can carry over to your new store, you’ll still need to take into account the unique elements of your new location that could impact the service your employees deliver to customers.
For example, you may run into a unique request or situation with a customer that you haven’t previously handled in your other locations. Sometimes, unique interactions mean your employees aren’t equipped to handle complaints or customer inquiries. The first 60 days allows you to watch for even the smallest of improvements that could warrant changes in policies and best practices.
When it comes to hiring staff for your new location, you might find that the recruitment methods you use in other store locations aren’t as effective in your new location. To find the best talent in your area, you’ll need to explore different outlets to attract (and retain) skilled employees that will help you serve your customers well.
Compare and monitor inventory with consumer demand
Siloed thinking in retail is a common issue, one that will negatively impact your business. Retailers are often consumed by their own beliefs as to what their customers want, or even relying on data from previous store locations to find their best-selling products and processes for new locations.
However, when you open a new location, it can often feel like starting over. You’re in a new space, in front of a new audience, with new staff members who aren’t totally familiar with your retail business or product. Preferences may not align with historical data, which means your inventory needs will shift.
During the first 60 days, it’s imperative to monitor shopper response and sales to help you make informed inventory decisions. There’s no arguing that inventory issues can affect consumer perceptions of your company, and when you can’t fulfill a need, you lose much more than just that sale.
Prioritize iterative design
Forget about the time, money, and sweat equity you invested in opening your new store location, and instead maintain the mindset that your store’s retail design is likely to change dramatically during your first 60 days. Referred to as iterative design, you might need to improve the design or layout of your store when you discover it does not address your customers’ needs or expectations the way it is.
The traditional five-year plans that many retailers follow are no longer substantial enough to provide the fresh, unique shopping experiences that consumers crave. Not to mention, these long-term plans come at a high cost with no guarantee of a high reward. And if you want your customers to enjoy a surprising, refreshing shopping experience more than once every five years, you’ll need to keep iterative design at the forefront during the first 60 days and beyond.
ARE YOU PREPARED FOR THE FIRST 60 DAYS OF YOUR NEXT RETAIL LOCATION’S OPENING?
The first 60 days of a store’s grand opening should be treated as an experimental period. Though you’ve done plenty of research up until the time you open your doors to the public, it’s essential to keep an open mind as you tweak and fine-tune your store for its continued success. Your customers will ultimately tell you what they want from you — you simply have to be ready to listen and act. If you’re ready to take action and optimize your next retail location for a successful opening, contact our expert retail design team today!
What’s the future of retail?
Malls, as we know them, are changing. And many are changing not only to serve customers but to serve retailers, now and into the future. As the way we shop continues to change and evolve, retailers and malls have to find unique ways to adapt to consumer needs. Many malls across Canada are reinventing themselves not just for the short-term needs of consumers, but for long-term demand, thinking ahead for the future of retail.