“I personally recommend this” are very powerful words in the interaction between a salesperson and a customer. (OK, not as powerful as “free,” but we need to stay in business!)  Shoppers are eager for ideas about what to buy, and as specialty shop retailers we are in a unique position to make meaningful personal recommendations.  We know that reviews and ratings are tools that many of today’s shopper uses to decide what to buy — and recommendations are essentially a professional version of these. 

Book and video stores almost always have a “staff picks” display with favorite titles on display.  You could adapt this idea and post signs next to various items in your shop saying which employee likes them best, and why.  This not only helps your customers, but it also makes your staff members realize that their opinions are valued.

Facebook, e-mail marketing and blogs are ideal venues for giving shoppers your recommendations, and make for much more interesting reading than just sale prices or new arrival announcements.  The key is to make the recommendation personal, including some highlights indicating why you love the product, or how you use it.  Be sure to let your staff know what items you are featuring.

Our son and daughter put together a weekly video about our shop to post on our web site during the holiday season — and one of the fun features in each segment is “What’s in your basket?” In a quick and entertaining manner they take turns talking about a few of their favorite products. (You can see these video segments on either the Orange Tree Imports or Specialty Shop Retailing Facebook page.)

Another approach would be to highlight a different product that you recommend each day for the Twelve Days of Christmas, possibly offering a 10% discount on the item the day that it is featured.  (Technically the Twelve Days of Christmas start on Christmas Day, but you would probably want to use this idea in December.)  Or perhaps you could tie your picks to the song “These are a few of our favorite things.”

We once did a store window of our favorite items, and my pick was a little square of very dark chocolate.  We have customers coming in and asking for “my” chocolate to this day. Sharing the things we love is one of the reasons we became shopkeepers, isn’t it?

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder

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