Articles for Retailers - Kizer and Bender


Shopper Tsunami

Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender for April 24, 2019 eNews

You’ve heard that the “customer is king” for a long as you have been in business. Whether we like it or not the customer is still in charge, and today’s customer has some new demands. Consider those demands a tsunami that has already landed and every business it touches will be changed.

Retailers are being pushed by consumers who are digital natives with increasing demands. They can shop anywhere and everywhere, in-store and online, television and catalogs; they are redefining retailing as they go along. Here’s the point: Before a customer ever enters your store they have had the opportunity to examine your products and services, and have read reviews about you before deciding whether to visit you or not. It’s called a Zero Moment Of Truth (ZMOT).

ZMOT allow customers to know more about you than you know about them. They are clicking around the internet looking for the best deal and the best experience. They choose where to shop based on ease, reliability, price, convenience, the store’s reputation, availability of product, and the ability to interact with you online and via mobile device. Over 45 percent of participants in our focus groups said they buy items monthly online, with their mobile device. Think smart phones and tablet devices. Convenience is big on the list of purchase decisions.

Zero Moments Of Truth requires that you consistently monitor your reputation online. These days there’s a lot of talk about retailers on the internet, so you need to devote time to reputation management.

Yelp, for example, is the go-to review site for many customers. Restaurants used to be the top reviewed businesses, but now that spot is held by retail stores. Some of you don’t like Yelp, we get it, but putting your head in the sand and ignoring it because you think it doesn’t matter will only hurt you in the long run. So bite the bullet and claim your Yelp business page. Fill in all of the spaces, and add your hours, photos, philosophy – whatever you like, but do it. People can still review your store even if you don’t claim your page. Why would you want that? Bad reviews live forever online; it’s better if you acknowledge a complaining customer. When someone posts a positive review, thank them – engage and connect, remember?

Google your store.
Don’t stop with what you find on pages 1-4, the good stuff is deeper. Do this exercise at least once a month to see what is being said about you. Monitoring services that might be of interest include and

So, what can you do to engage and connect with customers?

Make your sales floor memorable. Take this test:
Walk outside your front door. Close your eyes, count to 30 and walk back in. Stop in your Decompression Zone – about 5’ inside – and just look around. If you were a customer would you be excited about what you see, feel, hear or smell? Would you want to come inside and stay a while?

We live in a world of texting, tweets, and snaps – everything happens quickly. In a store, shoppers decide whether they like you or not in the first 10 seconds inside your front door. How does your store’s first impression stack up?
If the experience on your sales floor doesn’t unfold immediately, these savvy, time-sensitive shoppers may start to remove you from their list of favorite places. Your displays need to entice the shopper to play as well as buy. Install a TV or an iPad in a prominent place that continually shows all you have to offer. Upcoming classes, in-store events, promotions, customer testimonials, video clips of customers having fun painting, what you saw at Namta – the list is only as long as your imagination. The goal is to show customers that your store is a show stopper, and the place to go for all their fine art needs. Create your videos with PowerPoint, or try, a site that lets you easily use the power of video to share what matters most.

What can you do to make the display more exciting than product housed on a fixture? Have fun with props. You want to encourage customers to touch the merchandise – that’s engagement and you can’t do that online. You also want them to buy more than they had intended. Each time you set a display, add additional items that can be sold with the focal point product.

Increase focus on associate training.
Your customers want more than smiling faces – although in some stores they are lucky to get even that. They are looking for a personalized experience that includes engaging with a knowledgeable sales staff.

  • Host training meetings where you talk about what it means to engage with a customer, covering what to do and what to say. Even your most seasoned pros need to revisit this every once in a while.
  • Cross-train all associates so they all know the entire sales floor and what you sell. Knowing about paint, brushes, and everything else you sell is important when you are in front of a customer.
  • Start now to create a staff of knowledge experts. Sales training should be on-going in your store. Make articles, websites, promotional materials, podcasts, and DVDs from vendors available – create a reference library associates can refer to when necessary. When new product comes in have a 10 minute meeting right on the sales floor to talk about it. What is unique or unusual about it? Why did you decide to buy it? Which projects will it be best for, what can be sold with it? Quiz your team every so often to make sure they know their stuff.

Customer service has given way to customer advocacy. You’ve read the stories: associates at the Ritz Carlton hotels can spend up to $2000 to enhance a guest’s experience. If the guest asks an associate in valet parking for something, that valet owns it until the guest’s request is taken care of – everyone is empowered. That’s how the Ritz consistently remains at the top of the hotel ladder.

You aren’t going to give $2000 to each associate to care for customers, but you can empower them to follow through on every customer question or request. That’s what customer advocates do every day – build it into your store culture.

We have a customer advocacy form called the Super Quick Service Response. Drop us an email at [email protected] if you’d like a copy.

Talk about what you can do in-store to create emotional experiences for customers.
Your team will have lots of ideas so turn their creativity loose! Maybe even assign specific areas, like specific classes and events, to individual associates to give each one an added pop. 

Connect and engage online to bring shoppers to your store.
They are already clicking around; show them what they’re missing.

  • Use your free YouTube channel to post videos of your store’s latest adventures, to house helpful how-to videos, and more. Link these videos to your website, email blasts and social medias.
  • When a customer gives you a compliment ask if you can record them to post online. Customer testimonials are 10 – 20 times more powerful than what you have to say about yourself.
  • Become a broadcaster! Facebook Live lets you instantly stream live to your followers and interact with viewers in real time. It’s fun and easy! We save our broadcasts on our phones after we shoot so we can share them later on YouTube, other social medias, and in email blasts.
  • Facebook Groups gives you the opportunity to connect with an exclusive group of people to share a common interest – your store. It takes work because you are required to throw out topics and monitor the group, but it’s worth it if you have the time. It won’t work if you don’t have the drive to keep it going.

Facebook Groups are like having a daily focus group with people who know and love your store.
Use them to establish your expertise and collect feedback, to talk about product, techniques, and preferences. Use it to launch and/or test new programs, post polls, and ask open-ended questions. You’ll build better relationships with your core customers while spreading the word about your store. Bonus: Your members will tell their friends who will want to join, too – you’ll definitely increase your exposure.

It all comes down to this: The digital age and the rise of electronic merchants will always be with us. Their presence can create opportunities for brick and mortar retailers who are willing to think beyond their comfort zone. Your fabulous, physical selling space has a big advantage. People can come in, shop, have a great experience, and walk out with their heart’s desire. No waiting for a package to arrive in that mail. So, are you ready for the wave? Surfs up!


Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender are professional speakers, retail strategists, authors and consultants whose client list reads like a “Who’s Who” in business. Companies internationally depend upon them for timely advice on consumers and the changing retail market place. KIZER & BENDER’s observations are widely featured in national newspapers, national and international industry and consumer publications, and on radio and television programs across the U.S. You can learn more at