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Connect & Adapt


It should be encouraging news to gourmet kitchenware retailers that Main Street shopping is in vogue again. The small-store experience is serving up an engaging, personalized respite for many — even those fickle Millennials — from the malls, big box stores and cyber shopping.

Even as independent gourmet storeowners seek their digital comfort zone in this omnichannel retailing age, their stores remain at the core of any progress. This is a channel where attentive, professional direct selling — one-on-one, face-to-face, live and in person — can dictate long-term success more convincingly than your search engine metrics.

Start with the confidence that everyone who enters a specialty kitchenware store is there to buy something. The objective is selling shoppers without making them feel sold, allowing them to savor each discovery as their own, even if they need a little guidance along the way.

Bobby Griggs, a veteran consumer-direct cookware dealer who now offers Hammer Stahl cookware and cutlery to the gourmet retail trade, drew many parallels between direct sales and the independent kitchenware store business during a presentation to retailers at the Gourmet Catalog kickoff event in Atlanta.

Griggs honed his success as a direct seller by adapting his pitch to each customer. Griggs profiled four basic shopper types in his presentation: Drivers (dominant, direct, decisive); Influencers (fun, imaginative, enthusiastic); Steady (stable, supportive); and Conscientious (compliant, careful). Each exhibits telltale signs as they shop: The Driver, for instance, enters the store with a purpose and asks direct questions. The Influencer is always smiling, appearing very interested. The Steady is quiet, casual and patient, while the Conscientious is more formal and seeks details. And each requires a specific selling approach.

Make eye contact with Drivers, point out best sellers and make them feel important. Smile at Influencers, compliment them and keep them focused. Greet the Steady warmly with full attention and emphasize value and service. Give space to the Conscientious, offer comparisons and supply them with literature.

Of course, if you aren’t sure, at first, where your customer falls on Griggs’ psychographic scale, you can always try using his catchall send-off: “We are so happy to see you today. It was a joy having you. You are important to our business. All of your warranty information and details are in the bag. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for service. We value our loyal customers.”

You don’t need a psychology degree to be a persuasive direct seller. Connecting with and adapting to your customers will take some practice and plenty of commitment. But when you know what to look for, they’ll show you everything you’ll need to keep them coming back to Main Street… or wherever your store may be.

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