It’s common knowledge that the furniture shopping experience has changed over the past several years. Not long ago furniture salespeople practiced the fine art of “cherry picking.” There were crowds of interested shoppers and the salesperson got to decide which ones to serve and which one to ignore.
Alas, cherry picking season is over.
Not only is traffic down dramatically, but shoppers today are different from the ones we used to get. They seem a lot smarter and better prepared to shop. The internet gives shoppers important information about brands, styles and specific pieces of furniture. More importantly, and often with devastating results, the internet also tells them which stores they should shop in and which they should not. Reviews let them know which stores will treat them well and which will not. They learn which stores have sales people who have product knowledge and which do not. They find out which stores have manipulative salespeople and which do not. In other words the tables have turned and the furniture shopper gets to do the cherry picking now.
According to the consulting firm BRP, 79% of consumers say personalized service from a sales associate is an important factor in determining where they shop. In fact, consumers want personalized service more than they want product incentives, easy return policies, credit options, and virtually every other incentive they can be offered. Furthermore, 63% of consumers are likely to stop shopping at a retailer where they’ve had a negative shopping experience.
Our success secret this month is that you acknowledge that “cherry-picking” season is over for the retailer. Take whatever actions are necessary to improve every customer’s shopping experience in your store by ensuring that your salespeople are able to ask meaningful and helpful questions of their customers. During the course of conversation and in a natural way, salespeople need to ask questions to learn about each of the following:
What are the required product features the customer is seeking? Who will be the end user of the product? How will the new piece effect the customer’s room? What is the customer’s degree of time urgency? What are the customer’s budget resources? Who is the real decision maker? Why is the customer motivated to think about buying now?
Asking the right questions is the first step to helping customers have the personalized experience they want and expect. You’ll be surprised at the change that will come over your customers when they are truly served and valued. They’ll appreciate being treated like important individuals who deserve a top notch shopping experience…and maybe they and their friends will start cherry picking your store.