5 Essential Tips to Knowing Your Customers

This post is courtesy of our friends over at Intuit.

Building Customer Loyalty: 5 Essential Tips to Knowing Your Customers

Discover the Customer Insights of Successful Retailers

A recession is a great opportunity for retailers to re-evaluate how well you know your customers. This can make your products more saleable, to customers in ways that encourage repeat visits and higher spending. As every retailer knows, offering customers what they need and want is the key to keeping customers coming back in the door and getting them to spend more when they do.

But which areas of your operation impact your ability to do that consistently and optimally? What can you do, as a retailer, to keep your business at its peak in terms of making the right offerings to the right customers in the right ways, and maximize your sales on a day-to-day basis?

Let’s look at how you can make your inventory more available, and more saleable, to customers in ways that encourage repeat visits and higher spending.

Tip 1: Loyalty Programs

Let your regular customers know how much you value them. Loyalty programs don’t have to be as complicated as airline frequent flyer programs. They can be as simple as offering a free item for every ten purchased.

In fact, the simpler the loyalty program, the more customers are likely to use it – and the more likely they are to feel that you really do value their business.

What works best? Loyalty plans that focus on immediate customer value or provide free goods or services, according to Rhonda Abrams in “Creating Customer Loyalty.” She recommends plans that offer:

  • Free goods or discounts for buying in advance – for instance a free gift if you purchase a $30 gift certificate.
  • Free products after customers purchase a number of products – the baker’s dozen is a classic example.
  • Random discounts send to your best customers. Everyone loves a surprise.

As simple as these plans can be, it helps to have a way to administer them efficiently, such as a Point of Sale.

With QuickBooks Point of Sale, you can track and analyze customer buying. So you can find patterns that may not be obvious, and reward buying behavior in a way that will do you the most good.

Tip 2: Offer Your Customers Promotions and Coupons

When times get tough, customers sometimes need a little more incentive to spend. Promotions and coupons can be that incentive.

Customers get to take advantage of a bargain, and you don’t have to lower your prices.

Some promotions actually encourage increased spending – you can offer a per-unit discount for quantity purchased. And by placing coupons near certain merchandise, you can motivate customers to make impulse purchases.

Because QuickBooks Point of Sale tracks your customers as well as your inventory and sales, it’s the perfect tool to help you make good decision about which items to special-offer at which price points.

Tip 3: Let Your Best Customers Know How Much You Value Their Business

For many retailers, a small percentage of customers account for the vast majority of the sales. When you know who those customers are, you can thank them for the patronage and at the same time encourage them to spend more with you. By giving them preferred customer discounts.

The trick, of course, is to increase sales more than enough to offset the discount you’re offering. That’s where a Point of Sale system can help.

It allows you to track customer purchase behavior in detail. So you don’t just know who your best customers are, you can get a detailed picture of what they buy, when they buy it, and how often they come in. You can use that detailed information to offer them incentives to come in more often and buy items they don’t normally consider.

Best of all, your most important customers know that you think they’re special.

Tip 4: Experiment with New Product Lines

The retail business is fluid. The things you sell today may not meet your customers’ needs tomorrow.

Smart retailers constantly reconfigure what they offer, so they can anticipate what their customers will buy.

Even smarter retailers have a system in place that gives them accurate information about what is selling today and how those sales are trending over time so they can reconfigure what they offer intelligently. QuickBooks Point of Sale can be that system.

With QuickBooks Point of Sale, you’ll have all sorts of ways to sort your information. Look at sales by time of day, day of week, repeat versus one-time customer, and of course, trends over time. The results are presented in easy-to-read charts that can help you visualize what’s going on.

It’s information that you can use to make the smartest possible decisions. Which translates to the greatest possible sales.

Tip 5: Know Your Customers’ Needs and Meet Them

One of the worst mistakes many retailers make comes from guessing what customers want rather than finding out for sure. Do you really know whether the blouse your customer just bought is what she was looking for? Or did she settle for that one because she couldn’t find exactly the right one?

The best way to find out, of course, is to ask. Make a habit of asking each and every customer if there’s anything they’re lookng for that they don’t see in your store. And don’t just rely on your memory, either. Keep notes. Preferably in a place that will allow you to evaluate the rends as they reveal themselves.

QuickBooks Point of Sale automatically tracks sales, so you can see the big picture – general areas that are doing well versus areas that could use improvement. But by annotating sales with notes, you can compare what people wanted with what they ended up getting.

The results could be incredibly revealing. Leading you to make incredibly wise decisions about what merchandise to carry.

Even when times aren’t tough, building a better retail business requires making good decisions. And good decisions are much easier to make when you have good information to base them on.

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