Why shop-at-home still makes good business sense

Home Column Why shop-at-home still makes good business sense

shop-at-homeThe pandemic certainly didn’t create the shop-at-home model (for years consumers purchased everything from electronics, food and other products online). However, it has certainly made consumers much more comfortable with the format.

A recent report from the McKinsey Institute for Business and Economic Research that looks at the “homebound economy” stated that about a third of U.S. consumers are engaging in normal out-of-home activities, with 80% noting they’re still concerned when they leave home. (Some respondents cited crime as well as COVID-19 fears.) When consumers do venture out, it’s most often to shop for groceries and other necessities. Spending reflects this shift, with more consumers spending money on at-home activities such as gardening as well as software and electronics for working.

All the more reason why adding a shop-at-home component to your business makes sense. Consumers are often excited about their purchases (especially flooring) and want you to come to their homes as quick as possible. Remember, they’re already buying online, oftentimes from Amazon. Many items are delivered overnight.

So, how can you make the shop-at-home experience more convenient and enjoyable for your customers? Here are some of my thoughts:

Safety first. Be respectful of the customer’s wishes. While many mandatory mask mandates have been lifted, salespeople and installers should still ask homeowners if they would be more comfortable if employees wear masks when they enter the home. Aside from that, it’s always wise to follow pandemic protocols. This will make the consumer feel safe.

Show ID. Salespeople should have their identification ready so they can send it to the customer before arriving at her house and show this identification when they get to the house. Also, while you’re in the home, explain your customer service policies. This includes your product and labor warranties as well as how the product should be cared for after the sale.

Return the favor. One way to build your customer base would be to invite your customers to your own home for a party or a barbecue. That’s something my own father did when he ran our retail business years ago. Think about it, the customer has invited you to her home so why not reciprocate?

Small gestures pay big dividends. Give your customer a small gift after the sale. When my family ran a retail flooring business, we used to give customers lottery tickets as gifts. What could be more exciting than your customer winning the lottery? Or, if the customer is female, I would offer a manicure or pedicure. If they don’t want these giveaways, give them another choice to consider.

Stay top of mind. Explore ways to stay in touch with your customers long after the shop-at-home transaction has been completed. Here’s an idea: How about sending them a humorous email, one that makes them smile or feel special? This could be a customer appreciation letter or “thank-you” note.

I have a friend who’s in the business of selling cars; he sends personalized cards to all his clients. They love it and always tell their friends about his customer service. Sometimes, they even send him a gift.

Bottom line: Always be thinking of creative ways to make a favorable impression on the consumer, especially when you get the rare opportunity to spend quality time in their home.

Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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