There are a lot of insights on how customer behaviors and preferences influence their buying habits circulating around the web. Every so often, something pops up that is relevant to those of us in the outdoor industry.
Here are some of the latest finds:
>> Per capita, Americans have 21.8 square feet of retail space, while in China -- a country with three times the U.S. population -- there is less than one square foot of retail space per person. Retail expansion is booming in the United States. As a result, connecting with your customers becomes more challenging.
>> Researchers have drawn a link between shopping and personal identity, concluding that shopping is not only a form of self-expression but also a way for consumers to connect with their communities and their relationships with others. That boils down to the recognition of the emotional importance of shopping. With that in mind, you need to ask yourself: Are you making a trip to your store a rewarding experience by having helpful and informed staff, the right products and an engaging, organized environment?
>> Twenty-one minutes -- that's how long the average shopper spends at a Wal-Mart Supercenter. While Wal-Mart execs can't decide how long people stay in their stores, they do make sure that their customers get what they want in those 21 minutes. Selling each shopper another item or two keeps the chain growing and healthy.
>> As big box stores get bigger and bigger, it becomes increasingly harder for customers to find what they are looking for. Jammed aisles and long waits at checkout discourage shoppers from returning to the stores. The message here for outdoor retailers? Always organize your store to make it easy for customers to find what they're after and ensure that the trip to the cash wrap is quick and efficient.
>> Indirectly related to customer buying is the online Buying and Merchandising Course available from NRF University (an arm of the National Retail Federation). The course is designed to assist people who are working in buying offices, IT departments or working with vendors to increase their understanding of the buying and merchandising processes. It is broken into seven modules and takes eight to 12 hours to complete. For more information, go to www.nrfuniversitywired.com, click on "registration" then "catalog" and you'll see a list of the online courses available.
Sharon Leicham is the creator of The MerchandisingHUB, the author of "Merchandising Your Way to Success" and "How to Sell to Women" and is a regular columnist for SNEWS® writing on merchandising and marketing topics. You can access all of her columns by going to www.snewsnet.com/merchandising, where you will find tons of information targeted at the needs of the independent specialty retailer. You can email us with questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more retail training support and know-how, be sure to check out the SNEWS® Business 101 tools and stories, including our 10-part Retail Merchandising Training series produced by SNEWS®, including a useful online calculator for performing the most common retail merchandising calculations -- free to All Access Subscribers.