Bob Phibbs gave this advice at Conclave.

Have you uttered these excuses for why business is down?

Competitors are all online.

We can’t compete on price.

It’s hard to find a place to park downtown.

What’s the answer?

First, says Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor, the experience in your store needs to be like an amusement park: bright, interesting and changing. Think of what you sell as souvenirs and your store as the main attraction, he suggested to an audience at the American Gem Society Conclave last week.

“They aren’t loyal to stuff; they are loyal to people,” Phibbs says. "They are buying better versions of their lives. Our task isn’t nurturing enthusiasm for the brand as much as it is about overcoming customer indifference. There are too many places to buy too many products.”

Make sure your store is “idiot proof,” which means not intimidating, and easy to navigate.

Make sure your team isn’t having too good a time among themselves behind the counter and failing to connect on a human level with whoever is coming through the door.

Truly engage with everyone who walks in. Find something you have in common with them, ask an open ended question, look them in the eye, be happy, smile and say, “Good afternoon.”

“Don’t ask me how I am!” Phibbs says. And don’t ask, “Can I help you find something?"

Only about 10 percent of shoppers can answer that question. Most really are just looking. About 60 percent want “something” but aren’t sure what; another 30 percent want to know what options are available.

This article is an INSTORE Online extra.

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