Oftentimes when I read an article on how to keep your customer base, one of the pieces of advice is “offer the best products and services to your customers.” To give you the best chance for success, the goal is long-term customer loyalty.
But I got to thinking, what does that really mean? How does a small business owner get the right mix of products to offer their customer base?
I’d like to share what worked for me. This post is mainly geared towards retail owners, but others in different industries may find useful parallels.
-Contact manufacturers and ask questions, and don’t be shy. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and jot down what their top three questions about a product would be.
-While you’re on the phone with the manufacturer, ask for free samples, coupons, or any customer loyalty programs they may offer.
-For those that use distributors, keep in regular touch with your sales rep and pick their brains as often as you can.
-Subscribe to all trade journals and online newsletters in your industry to keep up on the newest products, trends, discontinued products, product improvements, company leadership changes, etc. etc.
-Seek out any complimentary businesses and do some cross-pollination. For example, I owned a pet supply shop, so I reached out to dog walkers, dog trainers, and pet-sitting companies. These folks got feedback from their customers on new or useful products and passed it along to me.
-Seek out local vendors. Make a special section in your store for their display – again, in my case, a local bakery also made dog biscuits, and we were happy to offer them for our customers.
-Finally, check your inventory and sales numbers often, crunch your data, and be ruthless when it comes time to get rid of a product that’s not moving. Sometimes, it may not matter how many coupons or free samples you give away, how nice the sales rep is, or how attractive the packaging is, if the product isn’t moving, get rid of it!
I’d love to hear what has worked for others in finding the best mix of products to offer to their customers.