In the wake of the pandemic, retail shopping has felt the devastating effects of a downturn in foot traffic. However, experts are forecasting a record sales year for brick-and-mortar locations of certain retail segments, providing a clear opportunity for retailers to capitalize on the moment.
So how can you, as a retailer, take advantage of this moment? Simple. When you provide a desirable, pleasant, convenient in-person shopping experience, previously absent customers are more likely to return. While many companies are investing millions into high-tech additions to keep customers coming back, providing a clean and orderly atmosphere is the simplest way to enhance your customer experience.
Here are some other reasons why cleanliness should be top of mind as you work to drive more retail foot traffic:
- First impressions matter. We’ve all heard this refrain time and again — in all areas of life, there’s great power in a positive first impression. Whether it’s the customer’s first impression with your brand as a whole or just with that particular brick-and-mortar store, that moment may be your only opportunity to make a sale and entice them into coming back. Some questionable grime in the corners of shop floors could be all it takes to make that customer turn on their heel and leave.
- Germs are top of mind. Now more than ever before, people are reporting higher awareness and concern about germs and the threat of illness. In the wake of the pandemic, we’ve all become more worried about contagious illnesses and take more personal precautions to keep clean and sanitized. We now expect and demand the same from our in-person shopping and dining experiences.
- Cleanliness is symbolic of a bigger idea. For many in-store visitors, the level of cleanliness and order is directly correlated to and symbolic of the brand’s care for its customers. A sparkling clean floor, sweet-smelling restroom and everything in working order? This creates a subconscious understanding for customers — this company really cares about my experience. Unfortunately, this phenomenon works against us as well, as something as simple as an empty soap dispenser can make customers feel as though their needs aren’t being addressed by your business.
- Wallets are strapped. As gas and food prices continue to rise and talks of a recession are hard to escape, customers feel strapped for discretionary cash. That means they’re more careful with their dollars and more discriminating in where they spend and why. Retailers must go the extra mile to get those wallets to open, and every little action helps.
- Everyone’s a reporter. In the age of social media and citizen journalism, every customer is also a reporter with instant access to a vast audience. A dirty restroom, grimy cash wrap or broken door can be quickly captured and shared with thousands, easily causing shame, embarrassment, and financial damages to your company.
Ok, so you understand that cleanliness and order matter, but how can you make the proper investment in doing it right?
Many retailers choose to delegate the task of cleaning and upkeep to their hourly staff, however, in our experience, this is usually a mistake. In stores where cleaning is a core duty for staff, the job can be inconsistent or poorly done, and in many cases, employee retention is typically a major issue. To solve this problem, instead of pushing off the store’s cleanliness to staff, you should be empowering them to focus their energy on servicing customers and supporting store sales.
There are a number of companies who socialize in deep cleaning commercial spaces, maintain and general upkeep. Whether it’s handled in-house or externally, it’s important to distinguish between ongoing janitorial services and deep cleaning. Both have their time and place in maintaining an inviting retail environment. Sometimes a one-time store refresh is a perfect way to ensure customers enter a space where they’re comfortable browsing.
And while these services come with an upfront investment, this investment ultimately pays off through increased foot traffic, improved brand reputation, increased employee retention, and better word-of-mouth.
The bottom line? Cleaning and upkeep — when executed right — is the simplest, easiest path to driving more folks back into your stores.
Check out this article featured in Total Retail by clicking HERE