Think about your last week, the shops you bought from, the offers which caught your eye or the advertisements which stuck in your head. Did you get a high street coffee from the likes of Costa or Starbucks? Have you eaten at fast-food chains such as McDonald’s or Subway? Did you do any online shopping from megastores such as Amazon or eBay? Chances are you did, and so did a large portion of the world. According to a study published in the Journal of Marketing, the reason that so many of us patronize such stores is primarily their convenience.
If you really think about such stories, you realise that the main reason you are attracted to them is not value for money, but the convenience of purchase. Indeed, these and many other global stores succeed because they invest heavily in seeking ways to ensure that the buying process is as streamlined and user-friendly as possible.
The convenience factor is something you need to think about at all stages of your business, even when writing your business plan. Fortunately, you too can learn the skills needed to transform your business, whatever the size, into one sought out for because it is convenient for your customers.
Convenience of discovery
How easy is it for potential customers who have never heard about you to find you? Traditionally, stores would set up in the high street in the hope of attaining the highest visibility amongst potential customers. As competition grew visibility evolved into marketing and nowadays visibility of the Internet is given the greatest importance. You need to think about how potential customers look for the products or services which you offer and you need to figure out how to make it as easy as possible for them to get to know about you.
Convenience of browsing
Whether your store is a website or a brick-and-mortar building, there is no difference. If you succeeded in bringing customers into your store, you risk losing them if you do not make it as simple as possible for them to search and find what they are looking for. There are many ways to achieve this. Online customers are given alternatives when they search for something, such as “other customers also liked…”. In supermarkets, for example, they allocate space for foodstuffs that are similar in use. The goal is to help the customer find the products, even if they don’t know exactly what they want.
Convenience of purchasing
Do not underestimate how many business owners fail here. They focus all their attention on getting a customer in and then ignore what is the most important part of any sale, the actual sale. I see this very often in online shops which require you to fill in a long-form as a first-time customer. Companies like Amazon and eBay have learned that customers are in a hurry, so whilst asking for a lot of information they also offer an option for speedy purchase. Similarly, in physical stores, such as supermarkets, customers are given the convenient option of self check out, to skip the queues.
Another common mistake is not accepting multiple payment systems, such as Paypal or credit cards. Not everyone has a Paypal account so make sure you accept as many types of payment as possible. Remember, the longer it takes your customers to go from browsing to purchasing, the higher the rate of customers changing their minds.