Campus stores are continuously trying to close the gap between the expectations that are established with customers by mainstream retailers and what we can offer in-store on limited budgets, fewer staff resources, and finite space.
An short article in the June 2009 DDI Magazine (http://www.ddimagazine.com/) offered "5 ways to build a positive in-store customer experience" that is some food for thought of campus retailers--even within sometime-staggering limitations:
1. Analyze your target market. Use the data, shopping habits, research, and other sources of information at your disposal (including asking them!) to know your customers, what they like, and what they respond to. This will allow you to better plan store layout, signage, and merchandising.
2. Direct the messaging. Tailor, tailor, tailor. Use signage, color, graphics, and product tags that communicate effectively and efficiently to your target audience(s).
3. Position the signage. Understand the traffic flow in your store and place signage and graphics in appropriate locations. Remember to consider the three focal areas--eye level down, eye level up, and 10 ft. above to ceiling.
4. Create custom designs. Use in-house, campus, or community resources...hire students or bring on interns, if needed...but have professional-quality graphics. Every 20-something and younger consumer has seen professional, polished graphics since they entered this world. Your visual messages have to be creative, use color and images effectively, and MUST be authentic.
5. Focus and re-focus. Within your target audience(s), your customers are also part of cultures. You must maintain a "read" on these cultures (Pop culture, student culture groups, etc.) and continously shift your messaging as needed to respond to changing customer attitudes and values.
~ The Retail Muse