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Customer service is vital for independent retailers to retain loyalty and add that personal touch the multiples can’t deliver. The IAA’s Sarah Parsons joined Santa Fe’s Alan Graham at Nainesh Shah’s store in Belgravia to share some all-important tips
Nainesh feels he is good at looking after his customers’ needs but wishes to improve impulse sales and how to upsell.
1. Ensure staff are well presented, greet shoppers with a smile and make eye contact. Train them to upsell and seek customer feedback.
Alan notices the natural greetings and humour Nainesh and his staff share with customers. “It’s great to see retailers relaxed in their environment and able to talk to their customers with ease, especially in Nainesh’s unique situation,” he says.
“Just a simple chat and making them laugh helps a lot in our business,” Nainesh says.
Nainesh has an extremely affluent customer base who often request specific magazines and newspapers in advance, making it difficult to upsell. Alan says this is fantastic customer service, but feels there is an opportunity to attract other customers, like nearby construction workers.
“Customers who come in quickly to buy their regular newspaper may not notice the amazing range Nainesh stocks,” says Alan. “Interrupting their visit by installing an ‘our recommendation’ box will make upselling easier for staff.”
2. Actively manage queues so customers are served promptly.
Walking into Nainesh’s small store it’s clear it could easily become cramped. Queuing could also be a problem, when customers are unsure about their tobacco choices, for example.
“The best way to help keep the queue flowing is by having your tobacco price list clearly visible,” says Alan.
Nainesh’s price list is not clearly visible to all customers in the queue and moving this would help reduce queuing time for any uncertain customers.
But Alan is pleased with Nainesh’s gantry because its location means it is easily accessible for his staff, but complies with new legislation.
“We try to help all retailers to make the most of their gantries now the market has gone dark,” he says. “But Nainesh seems to have chosen a method which will mean his customers are served quickly.”
3. Keep entrances clean and free of obstacles and keep point of sale up to date.
Alan notes that Nainesh’s small store could easily become cluttered with his huge magazine and newspaper range. But Nainesh assures him that his staff check the entrance is cleaned and organised several times a day, especially after busy periods.
“Our customers are used to high standards when it comes to shopping and even though we want a relaxed atmosphere for them, we do not want a cluttered one,” he says.
However, Alan advises Nainesh to put a more regimented practice into place and suggests putting more signage around the store to help customers move around.
“Just a simple checklist can make all the difference to keep your store looking its best,” says Alan.
“And more signage to signal the different types of magazines could help customers discover a new magazine or newspaper.”
What we learnt:
“Nainesh clearly has a great relationship with his customers and goes out of his way to help them. It’s always worthwhile meeting retailers to learn about their issues and how we can help them. Each store is unique – whether it’s their location or customer base – which presents different challenges and gives us new ideas. There is always something we can learn from visiting retailers to take back to head office and I hope they feel reassured by their supplier choices after visits like this.” Alan Graham, General manager, Santa Fe Natural
“I do a lot of work in my community as well as try to serve my customers the best I can. We have some unusual requests, often stocking newspapers or back issues before they get into the country, and they take up a lot of time. I find it really hard to leave the store to meet and learn from suppliers so visits like this are always welcome as I really want new ideas.” Nainesh Shah, Mayhew News, London
Nainesh’s action plan:
Install “we recommend” boxes to entice customers to try new magazines.
Make your tobacco price list clearly visible so customers can easily decide what to buy.
Create a simple checklist for staff to keep your store looking its best.