The Changing Course of Consumer Behavior

The market for small food and retail businesses is rapidly evolving as advancing technology gives you the ability to cater to customers like never before. Your market already knows exactly what it wants, and if you can provide that, you’ll gain loyal customers in return. So how do you know what your customers are looking for?

The answer is, quite simply, data collection and market research. Consider switching to mobile POS if you haven’t already. Most mPOS systems offer instant data collection that syncs to a customer database, allowing you to see metrics such as popular sales items and daily rush times, as well as individual customer activity.

Overall, 2015 trends tell us that there is a high level of commonality in what consumers are looking for from small businesses.  It’s important to first understand the overall market trends to help guide your own data points and research. Start by taking a look at what consumers want, and consider how you can make their experience at your establishment stand out.

Great Value for Cost and Time

Consumers are increasingly looking at value instead of blindly heading toward brand names. This means you should always look for the opportunity to provide your market with a great product that’s worth the time and the cost.

Consider quality and other priority metrics rather than flat cost as a factor here. For instance, why would a customer pay $5 for the same latte he could get for $3 elsewhere? Imagine that the $5 latte is served in a beautiful mug and comes from a small business that caters to every customer, has great lounge chairs and music, and knows their regulars’ names; providing excellent value to customers who seek out a fantastic in-store experience. The alternative is a $3 mass-market latte from the drive-through, which has value to customers who want speed over experience.

Here’s your first opportunity to improve your business by implementing mPOS. Use it to measure performance metrics for various menu items, and then use these metrics to identify, highlight and promote the items that your customers want the most.

Going Local

Consumers love shopping locally and being sure that their dollars are going to the local economy’s hard-working business owners. There’s a huge cultural push for people to buy local wherever they go, especially young people. Join a “Buy Local” campaign and get your name out as a local competitor in your niche. Most importantly, treat your customers like they’re family, because that type of camaraderie is what buying local is all about.

If you’re not a locally-owned business, you can still appeal to your market’s love for buying local. Support local suppliers and highlight their products and ingredients in your menu, invite local musicians to play in your space, or display local artists on your walls.

A Connected Experience

Consumers want to know that your employees care about giving them a great experience. This starts the moment your customer walks in the door and your staff greets her by name, then starts packing up her regular order. It continues as he expertly rings her up, seamlessly takes her loyalty information via mPOS, and engages in small talk about how her day’s going. It ends when she walks out the front door, pleased with her experience, feeling connected to the staff and business, and ready to come back the next day.

Even then, the experience isn’t over. It continues the next day when your customer receives an email with a unique offer tailored to her purchasing preferences, or a social media notification letting her know about an upcoming open mic event at your store. From in-store interactions, to marketing initiatives, there are numerous ways to connect with your customers.

Feeling Valued

Consumers want to feel like they’re the core of your business — and they are. Treat your regulars to a loyalty program that rewards them and shows them that you care about them coming back. A program like Instore Rewards lets your customers earn and redeem rewards seamlessly and across any of your multiple locations. At the same time, you’re tracking valuable purchasing habits on your customers, allowing you to target them with great offers that they actually want to redeem.

Once you know your consumers, understand their behavior and cater to their needs, it’s easy to make small changes to your business that make a huge difference to your customer base and to your bottom line. The cost of collecting your own internal data is small when it’s wrapped into the cost of installing multifunctional mPOS, and you’ll reap increased sales and customer loyalty to make it all worthwhile.

 

Image Credit: Steven Depolo by CC BY 2.0

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