I've been sharing a lot of my secret tips recently and today I'd like to share another. This one's about understanding your customer's intent.
One of the biggest mistakes I've noticed many retail store owners, not just jewelers, make is that they set up their store, create advertisements, and design their website based on what they believe their customers will like, without truly trying to understand what their customer's intent is.
It's easy to get lost in the daily operations of your store and wonder how you can compete with other jewelers nearby, but one of the easiest ways to compete and capture new customers is to spend a little bit of time pretending to be your jewelry customer.
As the old expression says, you won't understand someone unless you walk a mile in their shoes. Making your customers happy won't happen until you figure out what they are thinking when they visit your store, read your ads, or search for you online.
Pretending to be a jewelry customer doesn't mean you can simply stand on the customer side of the showcase in your store. Not at all. You need to visit a different jewelry store and pretend to be a customer!
Obviously, you won't be able to walk into your local competitor. I suggest you take an afternoon drive to a few other jewelers that won't know who you are.
Before you set out on your drive, you need to create a plan of attack. What products and services do you want to sell more of in your own store? Pick one of these items at a time and do a few online searches for that item in another town.
For the rest of this Nugget, I'll use the example of shopping for an eternity ring.
If you were in Northern New Jersey, you might want to search for "eternity rings near Totowa." That should bring up a list of at least 2 local jewelry stores. Take some time to browse their websites so you can understand how a customer would experience it.
Set out on your drive with the goal to visit your chosen store in need of an eternity ring. When you arrive at your destination, sit in your car and do another Google search on your smartphone for "eternity rings near me" to see how search results will change in a mobile setting.
Visit their website while sitting in your car so you can get a real sense of the customer's experience. This is a crucial step in how I analyze the usability of a website. Over the years, I've sat in my car or stood right outside the door of many retail stores while looking at their website. It might sound completely silly, but this step is quite enlightening!
Go inside the store and pretend to be a real customer shopping for an eternity ring.
Don't worry about price comparisons, and this is not the time to be a secret shopper. Instead, you need to pay attention to how the sales person treats you, and what you are thinking during this mock shopping experience. Try to keep your mind on the customer aspect of what you are doing rather than critiquing how the other store operates.
Impersonating a customer might be a little unnerving, and you can certainly take the "just looking" approach as well. Again, this step is also enlightening because you have a moment to see how it feels to be a real customer.
There are three potential aspects to this exercise: the experience in the store; using their site via smartphone; and using their site from your desktop. Each of them should help you better understand the intent of a customer shopping for what you were shopping for (eternity rings in this example).
You might want to write down some notes detailing your experience after this exercise is over. Take those notes and apply them to how your store looks, how it operates, how your website functions, and the information you have on your website.
In my office, I refer to this entire process as "going out in the real world." It's difficult to come up with new ideas and improvements when you're stuck at your desk, working in your store, or sitting at a computer. The entire concept is quite abstract, but it always seems to work.