The music industry has rapidly evolved in recent decades, transitioning from cassettes to CDs, MP3s and today’s music streaming services. Though it has become increasingly difficult to generate steady revenue as a musician, it is still within the realm of possibility. Moreover, people from all walks of life are still interested in learning how to play instruments for the fun of it. Music store owners are perfectly positioned to capitalize on the dynamics of the evolving music industry as they sell the tools as opposed to the finished product. Focus on enhancing the retail customer experience and your music store will thrive. More importantly, a rewarding customer experience will develop brand loyalty along with referrals.
Store Layout and Design
Take a moment to put yourself in the position of a customer who walks into your music store. Do you feel welcomed and comfortable? Is someone ready and willing to help you find what you need? Engagement is the name of the game yet a considerable number of music stores are understaffed or staffed by those who lack the cordiality necessary to convert walk-ins into paying customers.
Even subtleties such as in-store illumination, interior/exterior signage and the strategic use of color play important roles in creating a store atmosphere that engages. It is the engagement of customers that convinces them to feel at ease, learn more about products and spend money.
Sweat the small stuff of your music store’s presentation with the addition of:
- Music-themed décor
- Carefully selected lighting to showcase instruments
- Artfully presented accessories
Strategically organize your products for intuitive navigation. In short, it is mutually beneficial to make it easy for customers to browse the entirety of your store’s offerings without interference or annoyance.
The presentation of your store’s instruments is especially important. Organize your instruments and accessories in a logical and orderly manner to facilitate fast and easy browsing. The best approach to presenting your instruments is grouping them by type.
Expanding your scope beyond your business’s bread and butter of instruments to the presentation of accessories, sheet music and other sundries. Casey Green, owner of Guitarma in Lawrence, Kansas has this to say about the importance of product diversification:
“My offering here is still a little bit more beyond just instruments. I carry used vinyl. We sell jukeboxes here, which is again, another thing that’s just something I’m interested in. So I wanted to have around here and then, you know, rock and roll memorabilia, so we’ve got these old posters and buttons and patches and, you know, sign stuff when I can find it. I really, expected upon open that was gonna be way more of a flashpoint, something that people were interested in and, yeah, you know, while I do still have that, it’s certainly been the instruments, you know, it’s definitely a guitar store that just happens to have this other cool stuff that’s more of a surprise when you walk in.”
Consolidate each accessory into a designated space that makes it easy for shoppers not only to find those items but also test them and learn more about them through demonstration. The icing on the metaphorical cake is providing customers with easily accessible comfortable seating that puts them in a buying mood.
Product Selection and Merchandising
Diversify your inventory, providing customers with an expansive selection of options, expand your offerings to relevant accessories and you’ll rake in the revenue. However, it is a mistake to pigeonhole your music store as a business that tailors its offerings to one specific type of musician or a narrow demographic. Recognize the fact that people of all ages are interested in learning how to play an instrument or improving their current laying ability, then cater to those varying skill levels and ages accordingly.
Periodically review your in-store inventory to get a sense of what instruments and accessories need to be replenished. Continue to stock the most popular brands along with niche brands that customers have expressed interest in. Proactively rotate your inventory in accordance with the dynamics of the market and embrace the opportunity to showcase the most coveted items.
The most successful music stores highlight specific products that are in-demand or those that haven’t sold as briskly as desired through strategic promotions. As long as your instruments are properly maintained, well-tuned and presented in an aesthetically pleasing manner, promotions will entice customers to make a purchase.
Staff Expertise and Training
The quality of your human capital is just as important as the quality and quantity of your inventory. Thoroughly vet applicants, narrow the field to those with extensive music knowledge and prioritize the hiring of those who have a genuine passion for music.
Continue to provide your staff with opportunities for development through training and promotions. Above all, stress the importance of engaging with customers in a highly personalized manner in which service is tailored to their specific needs and desires.
In-store Experiences and Events
Hold the occasional class, workshop, songwriting session or even a music theory lesson and you’ll develop momentum that translates to sales. Provide local musicians including customers with the opportunity to perform live at your music store business and word will spread about your business.
A partnership with music schools and professional musicians in the area will also help your business establish legitimacy. Extend service to instrument rentals and you’ll expand your customer base all the more.
Omnichannel Customer Experience
The customer experience in the 21st century is multifaceted. Balance the quality of the retail customer experience with the online experience, develop a website that is user-friendly and prioritize your e-commerce platform’s security for mutual benefit. Music Shop 360 is here to help. We provide music store owners with retail software that combines point of sale with ecommerce for a seamless sales experience.
David Lardizabal, an instrument repair specialist and music store owner notes, “Music Shop 360 really helped me improve a lot aspects of the business that I had, like this software was handling this portion, another software was handling another portion, and to get it all in one just made life easier as to where the more time that I can focus on customers and instruments, the quality control, the better my life is.”
Embrace the golden opportunity that is social media. The top socials serve as a conduit to regularly interact with customers. Share updates about your music store, make the public aware of special events along with promotions and highlight customer testimonials that praise your service and selection.
Music store owners are often hesitant to acknowledge the fact that customers will inevitably return products. Though processing returns is frustrating and has the potential to take a chunk out of the bottom line, recognize that returns are part of the cost of doing business.
Train your staff to treat customers with respect throughout the return/refund process, provide consistent remote customer support and you’ll protect your sterling reputation throughout the community.
Collecting and Analyzing Customer Feedback
Resist the temptation to inundate your target customers in a top-down monologue, opt for a mutually beneficial discourse and prospective customers will engage with your business all the more. Discourse occurs both online and offline.
Encourage satisfied customers to provide feedback on social media, online review directories and surveys. Respond to questions and concerns in a timely manner, making it perfectly clear that your music store business cares about customers.
Take some time to reflect on customer feedback during frequent staff meetings. These sessions are your opportunity to pinpoint areas for improvement. Incorporate changes in accordance with customer responses along with the dynamics of the ever-changing music industry and you’ll win new business while retaining existing customers.
The Small Stuff of Music Stores Translates to Big Success
Sweat the subtleties of your music store as detailed above, implement our recommended best practices and you’ll succeed in enhancing the retail customer experience. When in doubt, prioritize the quality of the customer experience. Spend your limited capital on enhancements to your store, the presentation of your inventory and the quality of your staff and you’ll improve the retail customer experience, thereby maximizing conversions.
Flexibility, dexterity and diversification in customer outreach are key to music store success. Use traditional outbound advertising in unison with inbound marketing on the web and you’ll lay important psychological inroads with targeted buyer personas, paving a path toward the capturing of market share.