Customer Loyalty 101:
Advice for Navigating the Retail Jungle...and
Retailing is a demanding business, even more so when your
top price is $1. And yet, despite these and other
obstacles, many dollar store retailers manage to thrive and
grow, in good times and bad, by maintaining great customer
We talked to several retailers, both small and large
format, to get their views on this subject. What emerges is
not so much a secret formula, but instead a checklist of
simple common sense rules that keep the customers coming
back and telling their friends.
To start with the basics, experienced store managers know
that when a customer samples a store, she'll be back. The
bargains are simply too appealing to resist. The hard part
is getting them to try the store.
Many first timer customers have the idea that dollar
stores offer inferior merchandise or that the selection is
limited. Of course, nothing could be farther from the
truth, but lets talk about getting the customer to sample
First, dollar stores are the domain of female shoppers,
generally blue-collar workers with household incomes of less
than $30,000. For these shoppers, perception is vital.
They are attracted to stores that look clean and
inviting, but NOT those that look like they have spent a lot
of money on furnishings. Shoppers feel they won't be saving
money if the store can afford to splurge on fancy fixtures
and decorations. So, keep it friendly. No-frills
merchandising really does work.
Friendly also means working hard to impress the customer
with how good your customer service is. Make it a point to
greet every customer at the door, like Wal-Mart Does, and
train your people to smile and make eye contact. Nothing
impresses a new customer more than a friendly store, and
good management can control how the customer perceives your
customer service staff.
Another thing that keep customers coming back is
inventory turnover. The most successful chains know that
customers enjoy shopping for impulse items, the element of
finding unexpected bargains, so make sure those items are
turned frequently. (Shopper frequency at dollar stores
averaged 11 times in 2001, so that indicates a monthly turn
of impulse items is about right.)
So far, we've been talking about convenience. the other
half of the customer loyalty equation is price, and the only
way to consistently assure your customers of the best prices
is to buy from reputable suppliers who have a history of
delivering merchandise on time with no surprises.
Remember that your supplier is also your partner:
suppliers hear about new product breakthroughs before anyone
else does, and itís their business to know the market. By
doing your homework and working with the best suppliers, you
can guarantee your customers the best value for their money.
And that will keep them coming back for years to come.