New York--Competition for jewelers comes not only from other jewelry stores, but from other product categories now as well, which is why it’s increasingly important to focus on the in-store experience to capture and keep shoppers’ attention.

On Monday, Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, founder and publisher of Retail Minded and co-founder of the Independent Retailer Conference, gave the keynote at the JA New York Show, offering tips for what retailers can do to maximize the in-store experience for shoppers.

1. Use data from unexpected places. Consumer data can come from the obvious places, such as a retailer’s point of sales, but it also can come from other, less traditional places. For example, Watson Trend offers insights into consumer interest, gathering data from more than 10,000 sources.

Not only can it offer clues on whether a store should stock up or scale down on inventory, it can offer insight into things outside of jewelry that a retailer might be able to leverage. Reyhle gave the example of the site’s top trends as of Sunday--Apple Watch, Yoga and vegan diet--and offered up an example of a retailer who invited a local yoga studio into the store for a yoga session that worked to attract new consumers to the store.

2. Incorporate in-store signage to help the store “speak” to consumers. According to Reyhle, one in three consumers has indicated that they don’t want to talk to store staff, so signage can help communicate with customers. Signs should be readable, attract attention and when it comes to the store interior, should be in front of customers the moment they step inside the store. It also should help convey the store’s message and branding throughout. Reyhle said that store owners should ask themselves, What does my communication portray through the signage I’m offering?

3. Incorporate Wi-Fi. Including a wireless Internet connection in the store “accommodates the 21st-century customers,” Reyhle said, especially the millennial shoppers, which now make up one-third of buying consumers today. Providing Wi-Fi not only supports the reality of shoppers, who are using their cell phones for everything these days, but also encourages shoppers to stay longer. Additionally, the store can gain customer data through their online connection by asking for information such as name and email to log on or even requiring a short survey. Reyhle suggests Cloud4Wi.com as a provider that will help capture such information.

4. Become a stronger shipping store. Offering shipping not only allows a store to reach more customers and increase sales opportunities, but also supports in-store customers, offering solutions for opportunities like gifting while they’re at it, and increases the sell-through opportunities. Retailers also can find shipping partners to handle the service so they don’t have to worry about the details, such as RefundRetriever.com or RefundRetriever.com for shipment auditing.

5. Pay attention to weather. Weather, good or bad, will affect sales. “The catch is, how do you react to the weather?” Reyhle asked. Retailers need to have ideas stockpiled so that when certain weather happens, they immediately can be put into place. These ideas can be specials, sales, promotions or even in-store gift certificates that are directly related to what’s happening outside and that will push customers to go into the store. Relevant weather-related promotions will capture the most attention on social media and through email marketing, where they can quickly reach consumers.

One example that Reyhle gave was a weather-based refund system. Retailers can run a promotion, for example, that if it snows more than six inches in one month, every purchase from that month will be refunded. Stores can buy insurance against such a promotion, such as on GuaranteedWeather.com, and then even if the refunds are necessary, as long as the promotion has brought in more sales than the insurance premium, retailers are making a profit.

6. Pay attention to staples and statements. Staples get the customers in the store and should make up approximately 75 percent of the product mix, depending on the store’s clients and buying habits. Statements, meanwhile, keep shoppers in the store and should be about 25 percent of the product mix. Staples generally will be at the back of the store to drive traffic all the way through while statements usually are found at the front, but it’s important for retailers to pay attention to the mix and placement to fit their market.

7. Become an event planner. “Retail is a social experience,” Reyhle said, as well as an engaging and entertaining one. Stores should strategically plan events to bring people in. Even though not all may result in immediate sales, “you can’t dismiss how they can still affect the bottom line, even if you don’t capture all the purchasing that night.”

8. Become transparent. Reyhle offered a number of reasons that companies should be transparent, the first of which is that it allows the truth to be told from the retailer itself rather than the competition. Consumers will hold businesses accountable, and it’s best for the store to be upfront rather than having rumors out there. Being transparent also helps build a connection between the store and the customers, which in turn creates loyal shoppers. It also delivers a kind of “damage control” when necessary and eliminates the need for cover-ups or the chance of disappointment from customers. “Honesty in a crowded marketplace will set you apart.”

9. Know the tips to red carpet customer service. To give customers the best service from the store, treat them like celebrities, Reyhle said. Observe their behavior, ask open-ended questions to encourage a conversation and learn more about them, make suggestions without being forceful, and listen between the lines and carefully. Also be sure to get their information, not only to be able to contact with sales information, but also for referral programs, incentives, handwritten thank you’s, loyalty clubs and event invites.

10. Keep in mind the real boss. As a retail store, the true “boss” is the customer, so always keep them top of mind when making decisions and maximizing the in-store experience.

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