Monday, November 05, 2012

A buyer's manifesto aka Get with the times

To all retailers:

1. You must, MUST,  have an online presence which does not mean a Facebook page.  You should have your own URL and a fully user friendly experience website.  When I say user friendly, I am referring to the fact that your site should not be a one page fop virtually gilded with flashy crap only to give your address and a plea for me to visit you in person.  I want to know a little about your store, I want to feel the atmosphere of it online which should always be customer centric and I want to be engaged in the buying experience by being informed about  your products and prices.

2. That brings me to my next point.  I will not even consider buying from you unless you are willing to show me your prices.  I will not come in to your store in person to find out.  I can easily find someone else who is willing to show their prices and entice me into their store.  When you refuse to show your prices, I assume you've got something to hide, as in you are over priced.  If you give me any BS notes like 'Price available in store' or 'we can't quote prices due to differences in areas' or 'In store purchase only' then forget it, I won't consider buying from you.

3.  Give me pictures!  How am I supposed to judge the quality of your products if you won't take the time to have pictures of those products posted?  When I say pictures, I mean proper, professional photos that are in focus and actually informative.  For instance, if your product comes in more than one color, for God's sake show me the colors and if at all possible show me the product in those colors - all of them.

4.  If you do not sell online then you'd better have a darn good customer experience for me in person.  This means I want to enjoy shopping there.  I want to be enticed in with atmosphere, a lifestyle sort of thing, or at the very least a wide selection and friendly service.  This cannot be emphasized enough: friendly, helpful service.  Don't hard sell me, and don't disdain me.  I am the customer, my money is your goal.  If you want me to part with it then you'd better treat me right.

In case you've been holed up in your warehouse for the last decade and are unaware of the emergence of a phenomenon called the internet, let me elucidate its place in your business.  Buyers now have information at their fingertips at any time of day and often have the ability to buy what they want, from anywhere, at any hour through this tool.  What does this mean for you?  You'd better be there, waiting for buyers and you'd better know how to appeal to them because they can easily find the same thing you sell in either a better price or more convenient manner than yours unless you're willing to find out about your competition and formulate a plan to entice those buyers to you.  The world has changed my friend and you'd better be ready to change with it or get left in the dust.  You cannot complain about the death of local stores if you're not even fighting for your life.  As a buyer, my first step in any purchase is to look online.  I will spend my precious time on my computer before going out in my car and driving around to get what I want.  So if you want me to end up driving to your store, then I'd better be able to see what I'm driving there for before I even get in my car.  I would add that I strongly urge you to check out sites like Pinterest and Etsy to see trends in markets.  I would further add it wouldn't hurt you to check hashtags that pertain to your business in Twitter.  And lastly, if nothing else, look up your competition and see what they are doing and don't just glaze over it, check it thoroughly.  They may have the same or even higher prices than you but if their shipping is faster or cheaper you might still have a problem.  How is their site run?  Is it easy to purchase something?  Do the products have customer ratings and reviews?  Are the items fully described?  Are manuals downloadable - for free of course?  Is there a customer service experience that is easy and approachable?  How are customers allowed to pay for the items?

Do your research and I cannot iterate enough: Get Online!

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