Specialty Stores and Customer Service
Specialty stores often face seemingly insurmountable odds when competing with the “big box stores.” These small retail store owners, though, have several advantages over their competition simply because of their specialty. Customer service, along with their unique product, can give specialty stores the competitive edge they need to prosper.
Specialty stores serve a specific purpose in consumers’ lives. Whether the retailer sells athletic shoes or garden plants, the key word here is “specialty.” Any business owner who has a specialty in a particular product can turn that knowledge into a profitable business.
Make sure your customers know about your expertise in your product. As a specialist, you can:
- Make expert recommendations on purchases
- Troubleshoot problems with products or results
- Provide repairs
- Expand on uses for various products
- Customize fittings
- Provide items unavailable elsewhere
- Offer training and education
A customer will choose a specialty store over a big box store to get knowledgeable advice on purchases. This personal attention is not available with national chains. A customer wishing to scrapbook will have questions about which types of adhesive to use with different items, such as vellum, glitter paper, or ephemera. At big stores, there are seldom employees available to answer specialized questions. Your specialty in the area can be your most valuable asset.
Trouble Shooting and Repairs
Keep in mind that large national chains hire employees in bulk, just as they purchase products in bulk. This means that the employees are trained in only the basics of guiding and processing customers and purchases. If a customer has problems with an item, good luck finding someone who can help. An athlete who is having trouble with results of a workout won’t get much guidance from an employee with nominal knowledge. But, your expertise in the subject can help them learn why their workouts aren’t accomplishing their goals. An expert can identify incorrect form or spot misuse of equipment better than someone with less experience.
For example, an electronics technician or jewelry maker is having trouble with a soldering iron. An experienced person may determine that the soldering tip is not maintaining consistent heat due to rust at the base. He will replace the tip with one that makes good contact.
Expand on Uses
Specialty customer service can provide consumers with multiple uses for products. A retailer for luggage can show different uses for each size bag. A specialist in crafting can expand on the uses of a soldering iron in jewelry making.
Specialty stores that offer clothing can offer customized fittings. A store that sells athletic shoes, for example, can take more accurate measurements and recommend certain features in shoes for different athletic needs and abilities. Clothing can be altered by experts to provide a perfect fit.
Rare or Uncommon Items
Your specialty store will offer items that customers can’t get anywhere else. This makes you stand out from your competition, which will usually only order in bulk. Imported fabric, specialized photography equipment, and many other items are only available from stores like yours.
Offer Specialized Training
You can offer your expertise in the form of classes. This builds a loyal customer base and creates a need for your product. Classes, in addition to your help on the sales floor, gives you a chance to discover your customer’s needs and fulfill them as only your specialty store can.
Your sales floor offers more than just product selection to customers. You offer a storytelling experience, in which customers can learn the history or significance of products. You will have time to learn your customer’s needs and interests, and make recommendations on products that specifically interest them.