Some thoughts from MIA CEO Paul McManus on how to make customers choose your shop...
I recently came back from Glasgow where I had the pleasure of presenting to the shops at the Euromusic Conference. Euromusic is the buying group for just under 100 retailers from across the UK and they are a vibrant group of shops working together for a common benefit.
I went up to discuss the hardships of retailing in 2012 (and beyond) and to, hopefully, offer some thoughts on strategies that might help physical shop retailers to survive and, indeed, thrive.
I didn’t spend too long on the gloomy state of sales/costs on the High Street or the continued growth of on-line sales in relation to in-store ones, we are all only too aware of this.
What I did offer was the following: Customers still WANT to come into music shops; But ONLY if we make it worth their while. I think we instinctively assume that “worth their while” must mean price. Funnily enough your average customer is more interested in the general shopping experience that they get in a music shop (or any other shop for that matter).
This “average” customer is both looking for AND expecting the following sort of list from any shop that they might frequent (after having got up, driven, found a car park, paid for the car park etc.)
- A bright and inviting shop front (good window, clear brand, well lit etc)
- Clear, exciting and well presented displays of merchandise
- A welcoming environment (professional and helpful signage and ticketing, “try before you buy” encouragement, great ambience etc)
- A range of ways for them to consider making a purchase (instrument rentals, credit schemes)
- A clear understanding of the shop brand (who you are and what you stand for)
- A number of reasons to come back to the shop again and again (after-sales service etc)
- Most importantly - amazing and helpful staff
- Wherever possible, a joined-up customer experience
If all a shop does is have a wall of guitars, it could be argued that in many ways, the customer could just as easily buy the product on-line. In some case it could actually be easier to buy it on-line (no driving to town, car parks etc). I know we are forgetting the issue of trying a guitar, variances in the same model, but indulge me for now.
So, when a shop is able to offer a fuller experience to the customer with maybe:
- Teaching staff (or a nearby teaching partner)
- Information to help customers to find the local bands/orchestras etc
- Live music venue information (or even facilities)
- Examination information (and maybe services?)
- On-going communication and support for the musician
All of a sudden, the whole “go to the shop or go on-line?” debate can be very different for the customer. And we haven’t even mentioned selling price.
If you have most or all of those, why wouldn’t they want to shop with you?