I’ve become a savvy shopper planning my daughter’s wedding

At this very moment, I am pouring my heart into helping my daughter create her dream wedding on December 3rd of this year. Not wanting a long engagement, she and her fiancé gave us exactly 12 weeks to plan. With the budget in one hand and my cell phone in another, I’m becoming a dynamo at searching for the best and making quick decisions. Whether it’s organza for draping the ceiling of the tent or finding the perfect 24-passenger van, I am a savvy shopper. Shopping has never been important to me, but I’ve begun to realize the incredible significance of not only a shop’s online presence but their in-store personality too. Come on this journey with me.

1.) Go ahead…make my day

I can’t tell you how my heart flutters when a shop owner says, “We’ll throw that in for free” or “I’ll add that at no extra charge.” It’s music to my ears. Regardless of what it is, it usually seals the deal. One of the best ways to gain new customers and keep existing ones is to give them more than they expect. The holidays are the perfect time to offer a little something extra. It may be the difference between gaining the sale or seeing that potential customer walk out the door. Consider free gift wrapping or a free gift with every purchase. Try offering free delivery or pick-up for a specific amount of time. Whatever you offer, let your customers know you appreciate them.

2.) Go the extra mile

Everyone is incredibly busy these days. Between email, cell phones and social media (not to mention face-to-face conversations), we’re always interacting with someone. It doesn’t seem like there’s time to even take time. Last weekend, we needed to meet with a rental company for a tent, chairs, tables, etc. (Yes, my daughter is having an outdoor wedding in December in the Midwest.) The company’s representative was extremely busy, but offered to fit us in early Saturday morning. She opened the showroom just for us. She never conveyed that she was doing us a favor or that she had a million other things to do. Her time was our time. I was so impressed by her willingness to help us in any way possible. Take the time because a savvy shopper recognizes when you go the extra mile. By setting up a small table and coloring pages for children, you’re telling a weary mom you want to make it easier on her. By offering a refreshing beverage, you’re telling someone that you care about them whether they make a purchase or not.

3.) Referrals are critical

The wedding is being held at my brother and sister-in-law’s home. My sister-in-law is the queen of referrals. She knows people that know people. It’s amazing! No matter what we’re searching for, she’s able to find someone who can be referred to us. Not only do referrals shorten the time necessary to find what we need, but they immediately add a huge degree of trust. Don’t forget this very important aspect. Ask your customers to put referrals on your social media and local outlets such as Merchant Circle or Yelp. Monitor them regularly and respond when possible. Don’t be afraid of negative comments. Answer them in a respectful way offering to solve the problem as best you can. Consider adding a “bring-a-friend” promotion or a “refer-a-friend” discount.

4.) Prove you’re worth the higher price

We searched and searched to find just the right photographer. Several people we know own excellent photography businesses, but they weren’t “the one.” My daughter stumbled upon one photographer on Instagram. We loved her work! A quote from her website says, “I’m not just a fine art photographer – I’m a cultivator of memories.” When we got to her pricing page, our hearts skipped a beat and then sunk. Really, really pricey. However, the more we communicated with her and the more we looked at her work online, we came to believe she was worth every penny. A savvy shopper knows quality when they see it. Don’t sell yourself as just another “secondhand” store or a place to get a bargain. Build a brand that shows even though your prices are less than full retail, your merchandise is worth every penny you’re asking.

5.) Continue your brand inside your shopbridal bouquet for the savvy shopper

I know it sounds silly, but a flower shop should smell like a flower shop. When you walk in, you should be hit with that fragrant sweetness. When you walk into a consignment or resale shop, you should not be hit with a musty, damp smell. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve read reviews on Yelp! or Merchant Circle where the good or bad smell of a resale shop is mentioned. Many potential resale shoppers have pre-conceived ideas and it’s your job to dispel them. It’s no longer just about the transaction between you and your customers either. Nowadays, a savvy shopper is looking for the interaction too. Get your sales staff out from behind the counter. Train them on how to engage shoppers and have them read The 3 stupidest questions to ask shoppers. Use everything from humorous signage to letting your sales reps hand out instant coupons in order to make a connection. Like one florist did for us, take a shopper by the hand and walk them through every detail of a purchase, including accessories.

6.) What doesn’t really matter

Believe it or not, no one cares how long you’ve been in the business. In discussing transportation to and from the hotel to my brother’s home, I had one limo company owner tell me at least 5 times he’d been in the business for over 34 years and therefore was more qualified than anyone else. Guess what? I don’t really care. Was he going to take care of me and my needs? That’s what your customers want to know. When your consignors argue with you about how you’ve priced their merchandise or a shopper says a price isn’t fair, don’t use the excuse that you’ve been in the consignment business for over 25 years. Prove to your customers that you know the merchandise in your shop backwards and forwards. Statistics show that less than 30% of shoppers feel sales people actually know anything about what they’re selling. Talk about what you know not how long you’ve known it and you’ll make far more sales.

We’ve got 6 weeks to go and my daughter still doesn’t have a dress!