When you manage a thrift store, you know that providing customers with a great shopping experience is what keeps them returning. Although thrifting is traditionally done at a brick-and-mortar location, a greater number of stores are now selling items online to give shoppers more convenience and help attract new customers. Whether you do business entirely online or do a combination of in-person and online business, here are some ways to enhance a customer’s online thrifting experience.
Know Your Demographics
Knowing the demographics of your customers is one of the keys to good marketing as well as keeping relevant items in stock. Some examples of customer data points that shape a person’s demographic profile include income, age, education level and marital status. When it comes to marketing, having an idea of which customers fall into which demographic group makes it easier to send customized emails to each group. For example, you might promote designer labels with higher price points to customers with higher incomes and promote sales and discounts to shoppers who earn less.
When you sell online, you likely only have a certain amount of space to stockpile items for sale and cannot accept everything people bring you to sell on consignment. Being aware of who your customers are is essential to choosing which items to put online to sell. For example, if you live in an area with many young families with children, you would accept more things like toys and children’s books for your inventory than you would if you lived in a location with mostly college students. When customers feel as though you are catering to them, they are more likely to return for future purchases.
Manage Your Inventory Well
Once you know what types of items to accept, it is crucial to keep your inventory organized and know what you have in stock at all times. An excellent way to do this is by using a thrift store inventory management system. An inventory management system keeps track of the items that you have in stock on an online cloud, with in-store purchases immediately reflected in the cloud for your online shoppers. Having an efficient system in place to oversee inventory is important for thrift stores in particular since they tend not to buy items in bulk like other retail establishments.
By having an organized system to manage your inventory in real-time, customers gain a more satisfactory thrifting experience because they will not end up putting something in their online cart only to discover that you sold that item hours or days ago. Because consignment stores sell unique items, it is unlikely that you would be able to replace the item the customer wanted with the same or a similar item, which would lead to more disappointment.
Understand Customer Service
Most managers in the retail industry understand how important customer service is. However, another key part of customer service is understanding how to provide it in your particular niche environment. Online customer service at thrift stores will differ from that at big box stores for several reasons. For instance:
- Customers shopping at a thrift store may expect more personalized service and individual attention, which might necessitate having someone available online to answer questions via chat or email
- Shoppers may ask more questions about unique or uncommon items before deciding to make a purchase, especially if they are unable to see the item in person
- Customers might try to bargain and bring down the price of an item, and employees must act according to your store’s policy on bargaining without turning off the customer from your establishment
Providing great customer service online can be challenging since online interactions have less of a personal feel than the interactions that occur when a shopper walks into your store. However, by being aware of the unique aspects of customer service that come with smaller businesses like thrift shops, you can provide customers with an outstanding online experience that matches their expectations of your business.
Customers often go thrifting for the adventure as well as the opportunity to find interesting or rare items. By knowing your demographic, managing your inventory, and providing excellent customer service, you can enhance the thrifting experience for everyone who goes online to shop at your establishment.