Little steps make big impressions

November 05, 2012

Shoppers do notice when retailers show their humanity. It makes a difference.

Think of every store visit like a first date. Aim to do the little things right that shoppers notice—that can tip trips your way because they like your business style.

For example, Whole Foods Market has a renowned environmental responsibility policy. It visibly expanded this summer when it replaced recycled-plastic gift cards with a paper version and another made of responsibly harvested wood. (More on this later in the story.)

Meanwhile, in Albany, NY, ShopRite has wheeled out a free shuttle service to its one store in the area for seniors 60 and older. Its partnership with the non-profit group, Senior Services of Albany, helps older people who live independently without cars secure access to fresh, wholesome foods.

The “little things” aren’t little to people who care about them. The Lempert Report suggests others as well:
1.    Hire locals to support the local economy.
2.    Support community leadership and youth sports programs.
3.    Donate to food banks, and organize efforts that make it easy for shoppers to do the same year-round.
4.    Have no-hassle return policies.
5.    Help physically impaired shoppers, such as the blind, by using staffers as guides by appointment.
6.    Give seniors extra savings on a slow day of the week.
7.    Help people save time—coordinate the ‘ready’ times for deli, bakery, pharmacy and other special orders they phone in or enter on the store website.
8.    Keep shopping carts sanitary and wheeling properly.
9.    Have at least one sweets-free checklane.
10.    Use scents and music to stimulate shoppers and help them feel upbeat and energized.

Which other ideas can you think of to differentiate your stores?

These ideas aren’t just nice to do—they’ll help grow business. For example, retailers who sell gift cards know a certain amount of buyers won’t redeem them for the full amount.  That’s extra profit. Other card users, if the retailer suggests, might be happy to donate their cards with small balances remaining to a food charity such as Feeding America.

Everyone can win when retailers step up.