Just because you’re a small retailer doesn’t mean you have to act small. Large retailers have adopted certain practices that small retailers should consider.
Here are 5 of them:
1. Payment processing.
Back in 2015, a new rule shifted the burden for credit card fraud to retailers that did not switch to EMV (Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) technology. EMV has customers “dip” rather than “swipe.” Most large retailers have installed the machines to accommodate EMV technology, but many small businesses still have not done so. A Manta survey in October, two years after the shift to EMV, found that 65% of small merchants are unfamiliar with the requirement to update their point of sale systems, and that 82% either don’t currently accept or are unsure if they accept chip-based credit cards.
2. In-store parties and events.
A number of large retailers, such as Macy’s, are holding parties and events in November and December to lure customers into their stores. Experts say that once customers are in the stores, they tend to make purchases (e.g., impulse buying).
3. Buy online; pickup in store.
Because many consumers shop online, this buying option, referred to as BOPIS (buy online; pickup in store) has been adopted by a large number of retailers, including Bloomingdale’s, Target, Kohl’s, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. This option is valued by customers who don’t want to wait for items to be shipped, or to pay the costs associated with shipping when the retailer doesn’t foot the bill. But be sure your adoption of BOPIS doesn’t create problems. One retailer, Luxer One, found a solution that generated 96% customer satisfaction.
4. Buy online; return in store.
Like BOPIS, BORIS is also being used by many retailers. If you sell through your website and have a bricks-and-mortar store, offer the BORIS option to increase customer loyalty.
5. Easy returns policy.
Walmart introduced Mobile Express Returns to enable its customers to return items to its stores in a fraction of the time. There’s a dedicated return line where customers scan a QR code with their phone and a store associate verifies the item is in the box so that the return is complete in under a minute. Small retailers should be able to create the same easy return process.
A number of other large retailers have adopted easy return policies. Here’s a list of 15 stores. For example, Nordstrom has no time limit on returns or exchanges. Lands’ End policy for returns of items bought more than 9 months ago and lacking receipt: Customers are given the lowest sale price of the item in the form of the store’s gift card.
As large retailers adopt new practices, small businesses can let them work out the kinks and then imitate them. As Salvador Dali said, “Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.”