Small Biz Ahead

Adding Retail Services

Why You Should Consider Adding Services to Your Retail Business

By Kelly Spors

As you aim to draw in younger consumers and grow your revenues, one trend can help: Offering extra services that improve shoppers’ experience while saving them time or money.

Alton Lane, a men’s clothing chain that has expanded into several U.S. cities, is one such retailer that’s taken a services-based approach. The store allows its clients (not “customers”) to book personal appointments with style experts who help them select custom-fit clothing that matches their tastes and style preferences, while they sip on a beverage of their choice. The store uses 3-D body scanners to ensure the clothing will fit well and provides delivery, so men don’t have to schlep bags out of the store.

“Most guys we know don’t like the typical shopping experience,” CEO Colin P.G. Hunter told the Boston Globe in 2012. “We treat them like they are coming into our home.”

While not every small retailer can afford to offer such high-end services, many can add low-cost services and perks that help them fend off competition from big-box stores, which tend to offer minimal frills. But before you look to expand your store’s services, make sure you have the right amount of insurance coverage lined up. (We’ve put together a primer on key risks small retailers face.)

Here are some tips for effectively adding services to your retail business :

1. Look for natural extensions to your operations

The best services to add are likely those that naturally accompany whatever you sell. A sporting goods store may offer equipment rentals or tune-up services, a shoe store may offer shoe repair or insole replacement services, whereas a gift store may offer free wrapping or a service that reminds customers via email about upcoming occasions they may need to buy gifts for, such as birthdays and anniversaries.

Some retailers come up with unique services that shoppers are unlikely to find elsewhere: Northwest Sporting Goods & Supply, a sporting goods and landscaping equipment store in Winsted, Connecticut, offers archery classes, trailer hitch and bike rack installation, and small-engine repair services, according its website. The store also offers U-Haul moving van rentals on site for customers who need to transport their purchases somewhere.

2. Get the pricing right

Should you offer the extra services for free or charge a fee? That may depend primarily on the cost of offering those services to your customers. Having an on-staff tailor is likely expensive, so unless the price of your clothing covers the cost of hiring a tailor, you may need to charge extra. Other services, such as free gift-wrapping, likely come at a low cost but are seen as a major value-add to your customers.

3. Promote them widely

If you do offer services, make sure to actively promote them. You might feature the services on a “services” page on your website or mention them in your email newsletter or by the checkout counter.

Customers will likely see these services as a convenience and added value to their shopping experience. Today’s younger consumers, such as Millennials and Generation Z, seek richer experiences when they shop, so the more perks and experiences you can offer, the more likely you are to win their business.