[Musings of a Game Store Owner] The Average Visit to the Shop

Hey folks,

I have talked a lot about the business end of things and what it means to operate a shop like mine. I have discussed all manner of things from location and moving, hiring and employees, sales and discounts and many other facets of business operation.

I haven’t really talked about what happens when a customer walks inside my doors. Obviously every visit is different, but there really is an “average” visit to a specialty shop like mine.

So what’s an “average visit”?

this is a similar type of thing

An average visit to the store is made by a “regular”- someone who knows what we sell and likes what we offer. A regular usually knows what they want before coming in, and while they enjoy suggestions, doesn’t “need help”. We still offer it, but a regular is usually more interested in wandering or chatting than examining our selection.

I am still going to offer

Most visits by regulars (who are not at the store to game) last about 20-30 minutes. Roughly 5 or so minutes are spent actually browsing (most regulars know how our store is laid out, and head to their preferred section to look right away). These 5 minutes are usually peppered with comments or questions from across the store to TheDude, one of our wonderful staff or myself.

A good 10-20 minutes of an average visit is spent chit chatting- either with myself, the staff or TheDude; or other patrons at the store. There is a surprising amount of self incrimination or mock shame bandied about during this chatting. Most of my regulars comment that they are being “bad” and avoiding X or they “abandoned” their family/job/school to come hang out at the store.

I have such a different take on this that I am always surprised and sad when I hear comments like this. Even here, the comments about CrazyLadies and such make me shake my head. I trust my partner to make good decisions about how he spends his time and money, and let him do his thing. It seems to be working -for the most part; now and then he comes home with something like Retron 5 and I just have to wonder what he was thinking.

Meh, it makes him happy. How can I complain?

On an average visit, customers don’t buy anything. An average visit by a customer is an escape mechanism and an opportunity to decompress and relax for 10-20 minutes. Regular customers come in, they look around, they mentally decide what to buy “when the time is right” (according to money, circumstances or other deciding factors) and they chat for a while. Then they leave. 

A visit from an average customer is an exercise in attempting to get them to COME BACK LATER. 

A large part of how we stay in business is trying to provide an inviting and welcoming place that customers feel comfortable with and confident that they can come back and buy something another time. We spend time, energy, money and resources on this idea and atmosphere in hopes that when a customer is ready to buy, they will come back to OUR business and not any other number of options for game buying. 
This is the question I have to answer every time a customer comes in the door.
IF the visit I am talking about results in a sale, it does so like this (generally): 
A customer then usually spends about 5 minutes making actual purchases. There is occasional dickering, and usually an impulse buy (candy bars are by the register for a reason), and then we get payment and they are on their way. 

I take away two messages from our “average” visitor. One, the customer values us enough to spend 10-20 minutes in our establishment as a way to unwind and rejuvenate themselves (a powerful valuation) and two, I have five minutes when I can try to find opportunities for new or additional sales. I am sure you have heard of an “upsell”. 
I do try to balance many factors into my 5 minute window of opportunity-It’s important to know that not every sale will generate an “upsale”, and that many customers shouldn’t be upsold at all.
Some things that we use to encourage sales work (the new arrivals shelf) and some don’t work as well (spinning racks). Grouping like things together (ie card sleeves for board game cards near the board games) helps sell things, as does the way we visually display things. 
Our ultimate goal during an average visit is to be welcoming and offer an attitude and experience of genuine appreciation and comfort so that we encourage future visits. We certainly specifically want visits with money, but we want to keep fostering a level of openness for further trips so we have opportunities beyond our five minutes. 
So please, come back next time! 

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