Do you want to increase your turnover? Then make sure you know your audience well. Psychology has been studying the buyer’s brain for decades to understand what drives them to buy.
What scientists have discovered is that although people behave irrationally, their brains follow specific rules.
You as a retailer can use this knowledge to design more effective strategies to drive sales and customer satisfaction.
I have been a business analyst myself for a long time and naturally want to measure the success of everything, but now that we work a lot with customers with local websites with local stores I realize that there could be a little more measuring in the physical store location.
Maybe that’s something you recognize too?
Digital marketing has become such an important part of the marketing mix, and many local entrepreneurs are still ignoring it according to statistics.
Apart from all the tips I have for you here about useful marketing tips to stimulate sales in your store, I think it is good to sometimes improve the implementation of the measurement and testing of your strategy.
With our online marketing services we also test what works and apply more of this.
At the same time, we can delete what does not work well and in this way we continuously improve our process.
Later in the article I have more tips on how to apply testing and incremental adjustments to your strategy in the store, but first:
Here are 15 ways to use the inner workings of the customer’s brain to your advantage.
How can I boost sales in my store?
To boost sales in your retail store, you can implement these well-functioning strategies:
- Use the right sounds and smells
- Distract and unbalance customers
- Let them touch products
- Provide free samples
- Create a loyalty program
- Make Rewards Easier to Get
- personalize, personalize
- Add a very expensive product
- Place popular but cheap items at the entrance
- Don’t be overly polite
- Mimic their gestures
- Don’t offer too many alternatives
- Evoke emotions
- Create the illusion of scarcity
- Offer surprise rewards
Below I will go into more detail about how you can apply these to increase the turnover in your store and I will come back to many more tips that you can use in, for example, training your employees to achieve optimal results.
1. Use the right sounds and scents
Background music in the store can influence not only how much people spend, but also what they buy.
Shops that play jazz or classical music are considered to be of a higher quality.
Customers who step in are open to greater spending than people who go to stores that play pop or rock.
In a famous experiment, customers in a wine store were more likely to buy French wines when French music was playing.
When German music was playing, people bought more German wines.
Hearing isn’t the only feeling that influences our spending habits.
Researcher Martin Lindstrom found that the smell of apple pie led to a 23% increase in oven and refrigerator sales at an appliance store.
2. Distract and unbalance customers
When people are interrupted while shopping, they lose focus and become less price sensitive, several studies show.
Increase sales by distracting customers in-store with vocal pop-up ads, digital signage, images, and asking “Can I help you?”
When people return to look at products after a distraction, they are more likely to buy and spend more.
For the same reason, supermarkets and malls often have counter-intuitive store planning. They are specifically designed to confuse shoppers as it increases sales.
3. Let them touch the products
According to a Caltech study, consumers are willing to pay more for items if they can see and touch them.
The sensory experience is so important that the longer people watch and hold products, the more they are willing to pay for it.
This is great news for brick and mortar stores!
4. Provide free samples
When people receive something for free, they feel special and want to return the favor.
In his book “Influence: The Psychology of Belief,” Dr. Robert Cialdini how a waiter increased his tips by 3% by offering guests an after dinner mint.
When he offered two mints, tips rose 14%.
By giving shoppers a little freebie, be it a cookie or a sticker, you can increase the chances that they will buy from you.
5. Create a loyalty program
Loyalty programs are a great resource for retailers: they provide important insights into customer preferences, increase loyalty – and according to customers, they also feel more connected to your store.
In their 2006 study, Kivets, Urminsky, and Zheng found that customers with a cafe rewards card smiled more when shopping, talked longer with cafe employees, said “thank you,” and were more likely to leave a tip than customers who were not part of the program.
6. Make Rewards Easier to Get
The shorter the perceived distance to a goal, the more motivated people are to achieve it.
Researchers Kivets, Urminsky and Zheng divided customers in a reward club into two groups.
Group A received a stamp card with 10 squares that, when completed, would entitle them to free coffee.
Group B’s coffee card had 12 squares, two of which were already stamped.
Although all cards required the same number of purchases to receive the reward, customers in group B completed the card more quickly.
The two pre-stamped pockets gave them the impression that they were closer to the target. They spent more money and came back faster to get there.
Use this effect when designing your loyalty program to increase your participation.
7. Personalize, personalize
When things are relevant to people, they pay more attention to them. This happens especially when we hear our name (a magic word that activates different parts of our brain), but also when we hear something we are interested in.
Whether it’s a sport we’re interested in, our favorite band or the name of a country we’ve recently visited.
Retailers can use their loyalty program to collect information about customer actions, use the data to optimize and personalize communications, products and offers.
And don’t forget to use people’s names!
8. Add a very expensive product
People tend to choose products that offer a bargain. Most customers don’t want the cheapest option, but still want to feel that they are getting good quality for their money.
You can use this attitude to increase sales of specific items by making an extreme
expensive alternative to the same product category.
Most buyers will opt for the middle product as it looks affordable compared to the more expensive ones.
9. Place popular but cheap items at the entrance
Encourage customers to make small impulse purchases and sell more through triggers of what psychologists call the “shopping mindset.”
Once people have made a purchase, no matter how small, they are more likely to buy more, psychology says.
Take advantage of this effect by placing cheap, popular products, such as candy or newspapers, at the entrance of your store.
10. Don’t be overly polite (if you’re selling luxury items)
Research shows that snobbish staff in high-end stores can increase sales.
This effect (which doesn’t apply to mass-market brands – luxury only) seems to be related to people’s aspiration to be part of a prestigious in-group.
So, if you run a luxury store, allow your sales rep to act snobbishly. However, if you’re running a mass-market brand, you’d better stick to smiles and politeness.
11. Mimic their gestures
When you talk to customers, try to copy their body language and words as you increase the likelihood that they will buy from you.
That’s because we tend to feel a stronger affinity with people we perceive as similar to us.
The “mirror effect” is a very effective sales ploy.
12. Don’t offer too many alternatives
Maybe it goes against your first instinct. You want to be able to offer your customers a wide range of options. But too many options can be paralyzing.
This is what scientists call the paradox of choice.
In a popular study, Iyengar and Lepper (2000) set up two tables in a supermarket.
At table A they could choose from 24 different types of jam.
At table B, customers could taste a selection of six jams
While more people have continued to look at Table A, where the selection was greater, only 3% of them actually made a purchase.
On the other hand, 31% of the people at table B had a nice jar of jam left over from the experiment. But a lighter wallet.
The lesson for retailers is simple: limit the flavors, colors, and branding options you offer. If you have too many alternatives, you will eventually be able to sell less (and there will be extra inventory left to sell).
13. Evoke Emotions
Emotional messages are easier to remember and more effective than rational messages.
However, not all emotions are created equal:
greed (“you want to be part of this club”)
and nostalgia (“ah, the good memories of my childhood”)
For example, these work very well to convince customers.
Research shows that when people feel nostalgic, they value money less and are therefore willing to pay more for products.
Take advantage of this by using images and music in the store that manage to hit that nostalgic note in people.
Families, vacations and retro music are common tricks that always work.
14. Create the illusion of scarcity
People value things differently depending on how rare they are. The rarer a product, service, or opportunity, the more valuable it appears.
Martin Lindstrom, author of “Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy,” found that he could increase canned soup sales simply by adding the phrase “up to 8 cans of soup per customer.”
People bought more cans, even if the soup was the same price as the day before.
The feeling of scarcity, the Millennials’ fear of missing out, triggers a survival instinct in shoppers that makes them buy faster.
15. Offer Surprise Rewards
Surprise rewards are great: they make people happier and more motivated. On the other hand, expected rewards are not as effective.
They may even lead to lower happiness levels, psychology says.
Do you want to make your customers happy? Send them surprise coupons or deals.
However, avoid repeated promotions, such as offers valid every Thursday.
Once you know how your audience thinks, what turns them on, you can adjust your strategy to become more effective.
Make sure you use the right approach for your industry and target market and always combine these strategies with the most effective weapon: great customer service!
The advent of online has brought change
How one approaches retail sales is often approached with hesitation.
Most retailers don’t like the idea of ”selling” to their customers. According to the accepted wisdom, more sales will come from quality customer service and great products than any ability on your or your staff’s part to pitch a product.
However, the truth is that if you don’t research how to encourage your customers to find and buy your products, you’re missing out on an opportunity to substantially boost sales.
And with that, of course, your profit.
What are the biggest challenges for retailers?
A recent Gallup survey asked small business owners to list the top challenges they face.
The highest mentioned was the economic recession at 28 percent.
Of all financial problems, salespeople were mainly concerned with attracting customers and gaining new business (14 percent).
So why the aversion to ‘selling’ your product?
After all, isn’t that the point? You produce or buy a great product, shouldn’t you show the world its value? Yeah right!
But we understand the hesitation in not wanting to be too pushy.
By learning the history of sales and the concept of a small business sales funnel, you will eventually learn how it all comes together to increase your brand awareness, drive demand and generate revenue.
And all this without seeming too intrusive.
A Brief History of Selling and How It’s Changed
For many experienced small business owners, “sell” is a dirty word. And that’s no surprise.
The history of the sale has not really left the best impression.
But to learn how to increase retail sales, you need to understand where this reluctance comes from.
When asked to describe a salesperson, most people will conjure up images of used car dealers and annoying telemarketers.
Store managers have taught their staff to use tricks and techniques to persuade customers to make a purchase, whether the product was good or not.
As a result, consumers often felt pressured and made bad decisions.
Sellers were able to get away with this because of something called “information shortage.”
In the past, before the internet, the relationship between buyer and seller was not equal. Sellers had not only the items and goods that customers wanted to buy, but also all the knowledge about which products were best.
They weren’t just sellers, they were knowledge portals whose advice and support was needed before customers could make a purchase.
As you can imagine, this made it incredibly easy for sellers to dictate terms and push unwanted/unnecessary sales.
The fact is that this information imbalance simply no longer exists. The modern salesperson is confronted with customers who have done their research and know the product they wish to purchase.
They researched the item they want to buy, read online reviews and made the comparison for the best deal in town.
So on top of the fact that the old-fashioned, aggressive ABC sales approach has always been unethical, it is now completely ineffective.
The internet has come to take a look, now what?
Like it has changed so many other things, the internet has revolutionized the world of sales.
It means that with information now at hand and available when we need or want it, customers are no longer dependent on a salesperson (that’s you) to choose the right product for them.
Often times, customers do all of this before they even enter your store. So where are you then?
Well, frankly, if you’re still using ABC tactics, you better hope that the person pressured you to buy that expensive grill, expensive sundress, or expensive bottle of wine has never heard of Trustpilot.
Stores and merchants that still use these aggressive push tactics are beset by bad reviews.
Horror stories online about bad customer service are a dime a dozen. As a result, salespeople may have trouble acquiring new customers and struggle to retain existing ones.
So what do modern sales techniques look like? For starters, we now live in a world where 81 percent of shoppers make purchases online before buying in stores.
Basically, this means that if small retailers want to increase their sales, they can’t sit in stores waiting for customers to magically find them.
Instead, store owners and retailers must lead upstream and lead potential customers down the sales funnel.
Traders need to consider the entire customer journey and find ways to engage and support customers at all times as they seek information and seek solutions to their problems.
This process is commonly known as customer acquisition and is often depicted as a funnel.
The small business funnel
Before you can learn how to lead customers through their journey and understand how to increase retail sales, you need to have a general understanding of what a sales funnel is and how it applies to your business.
In the broadest sense, a salesperson’s job has now evolved from a push to a pull mechanism.
This means it’s not about pushing products to customers, it’s about identifying and attracting potential customers who are right for your products and pulling them down your sales funnel.
From their first Google search to their debit card hitting your point of sale.
We talk about a sales funnel because it represents the idea of a broad initial group of potential customers that gradually leads to a few successful sales.
In short this means that:
- not everyone you approach online will visit your physical store location
- not everyone who sees the front of your store will enter
- not everyone who comes in will talk to your staff
- not everyone who deals with your employees will buy
You are guaranteed to lose a percentage of potential customers at each stage.
While some outages are unavoidable, your job is to cast the correct initial net and then lose as few customers as possible at each stage of the funnel.
So what exactly does this look like?
Below, we’ve outlined a small business sales funnel as it pertains to retailers so you can envision how and when to approach your potential customers.
So, without further ado, here’s each stage of the funnel in more detail:
1. Online awareness
The first and most obvious task you have as a small business owner is to manage your online presence.
As I mentioned before, more and more people are researching their problems online and looking for solutions for products and goods.
It is therefore very important that you become part of the solution.
To do this, you need to address three key elements:
social media ads
Online reputation management is paramount in today’s digital age.
This includes building a website that can convey everything unique and remarkable about your business.
This also means having a presence on social media channels and operating the major small business discovery and review platforms such as Trustpilot and Google.
If you have not yet taken ownership and have already built your profiles on these sites, now is the time.
I’ve seen people walk to a restaurant, open their TripAdvisor app to read the reviews, then turn around to walk in somewhere across the street.
All because of what they read.
Do yourself a favor and manage these portals to your advantage. You’ll be amazed at how much this change can boost sales for your business.
Social Media Ads
In addition to easily managing your reviews on Google and Facebook, you’ll want to use the advertising tools from platforms like Facebook to drive more traffic to your store.
There are two main reasons why Facebook is such a powerful advertising tool for retailers:
Facebook collects tons of data about the people who use the platform and makes that data available to advertisers.
So if you want to target your ads to mothers aged 30 – 37 who live in Amsterdam, with an annual income of €100,000, who are also interested in gardening, you can do that.
This level of specificity helps you get your ad to an audience that matches your existing customer base, increasing the likelihood of it leading to sales.
Once you’ve mastered Facebook targeting, you can do other creative things like advertise to people who are fans of your company’s Facebook page.
These people are probably already involved with your business, so you want to promote a different offer than one that you would show to someone who hasn’t already bought from you.
For example, you can promote a loyalty program for this audience if you have one. As you may have already begun to guess, experimentation is the key to success with Facebook.
Don’t be afraid to test different audiences for your ads, as well as a variety of offers until you find a few combinations achieved that work.
Outside of its targeting, Facebook tends to be more cost effective than other advertising channels like Google AdWords or even advertising in your local newspaper.
For money-minded retailers, the value for money that Facebook delivers makes it the ideal tool to increase your brand awareness and drive more foot traffic to your store.
While it may be necessary, just being reactive and managing your online reviews as they come in isn’t enough.
Casting a broad net on the internet is about involving your target group with your company in a smart way. You can’t just sit there and wait for customers to find you.
If people want to educate themselves online instead of in-store, you just have to meet them where they already are. This means that you will also be part of the conversation online by participating in proactive content marketing.
Unsurprisingly, it can be difficult for small businesses to compete on price, so your survival depends on your ability to add value to the customer’s buying experience.
Intelligent, useful and engaging content is your way of demonstrating the value you want to add. And with this you can boost your retail sales.
2. Location and Face
The second phase of the funnel is the first contact customers have with your physical location. Because of this, it can be one of the most important aspects of increasing retail sales.
Again, it’s important to focus on the customer journey and consider all the elements that contribute to a customer’s transition from online surveys to an in-person visit to your store.
Below are some of the key aspects to consider.
Be easy to find
90 percent of people use their smartphones to look up directions.
You want to make sure your Google Maps Google My Business listing is up-to-date with an accurate description of your business, its address, hours of operation, and even photos.
It’s free to do, so there’s no excuse not to.
Be really, really easy to find
If you’re not yet a small business owner and have yet to choose your location, you’re in luck!
The world is at your feet and being able to start from scratch and pick an ideal location will have a huge effect on your ability to drive sales.
For starters, you need to choose a location that is easy to find. You will want to find a location with a lot of foot traffic.
Being on a corner is usually a safe bet, as is easy parking and/or being near public transportation.
Finally, make sure your signage is large and easy to read. Being creative and having a unique branding is great, but if your customer isn’t sure what you’re selling, it’s lost focus.
Encourage people to come through your door
You have to get people in. Only then can they buy something. And how are you going to do this?
Offering deals that create a sense of urgency (think 25% off all sweaters this weekend only) is a great tactic for getting customers through your door as quickly as possible.
If you can’t afford big discounts, that’s okay too. Keeping it simple can be just as effective when it comes to bringing in customers.
So hand out little soaps you just started selling or even use lemonade on a hot day.
Maximize Your Curb Appeal
Your storefront is the window to the soul of your business, and with it you can make or break your attempt to expand retail.
Your storefront appearance should match your online and offline aesthetics and grab people’s attention with a visual representation of what your brand represents and what you’re selling.
You might consider using digital displays or experimenting with different window displays to attract passersby.
Sometimes doing something as simple as moving a few clothes racks to the sidewalk can be enough to make a passerby stop to take a look.
Event Marketing: Create an Experience
An excellent way to increase retail sales and introduce your business to new customers is to create an experience that aligns with your brand.
If you’re a clothing boutique, you can use a slow afternoon to offer personal shopping services or offer free manicures to the first ten customers.
If you do these events right, you can reward your best customers and create a great viral buzz that will lead to a slew of raving fans.
Events like this can bring your brand to life and allow customers to experience your store in a new and unique way.
The more creative you can be, the more memorable the experience you will create. Don’t be so concerned about making money from these events.
Keep in mind that event marketing is all about brand awareness, so you may not see retail sales increase immediately.
The goal is to create an experience that your customers will remember and encourage them to share their great experience on social media, give a great rating and/or tell their friends how much fun they had.
3. In your store
No article discussing a great shopping experience will be complete without a mention of Apple stores.
So I might as well have had it right at the start.
Apple is great, and they have really surpassed the standard when it comes to retail store design.
We all know this. And yet there are hundreds of small business owners across the country who are ignoring Apple’s lead and losing business as a result.
Want to learn how to increase your retail sales? Read and note.
Perhaps my favorite tidbit about the Apple Store is that if you walk into an Apple store early in the morning, you’ll notice that all MacBook Pro notebooks are at the exact same angle.
Employees are equipped with an iPhone app that acts as a benchmark to help them achieve this. It may sound crazy, but this kind of attention to detail is what distinguishes an exceptional in-store experience from a mediocre one.
Apple understands that when we walk through the doors of a new location, we ask ourselves a hundred questions at once:
is this location reliable
the employees are probably inclined to treat me well
will the offer be to my taste
can I find what I need and complete my purchase quickly
will the prices be too high, too low or just right
and, perhaps more importantly, is there something different and distinctive about this place? Does this feel like my kind of store?
Your job as a small business owner is to make sure your store answers these questions. The overall goal of this section of the small business funnel is simple:
Every person who walks through your doors has to spend money in your store.
Easier said than done, right?
Yes, you will never get 100 percent of your visitors to spend anything, but by providing the best in-store experience possible, you maximize your chances of acquiring new customers and driving sales.
So how can you make your in-store experience world-class and get customers to open those wallets?
The first step is recognizing that the process of creating the perfect shopping experience, often referred to as visual merchandising, is part science and part art.
When done right, it’s a perfect marriage of form and function, where every aspect of your space conveys a consistent look and feel, facilitating a smooth and enjoyable customer journey.
Here are a few key elements to consider:
Checkout position and first impression
For most stores, the counter remains the central, beating heart of the store. As for the layout of your store, all roads should lead to Rome, with all aisles and walkways leading towards the point of sale.
Ideally, your checkout position should also give you a clear line of sight across the entrance and exit of the store. This gives you the chance to greet customers when they arrive and create the right atmosphere from the start.
It also gives you the option to thank customers when they leave (and has the added benefit of deterring shoplifters, who prefer to pack and leave without going to the cashier).
Customer journey signs and guidance
As with all elements of the in-store experience, the best signage is a combination of form and function.
Functionally, it should provide clear guidelines that help customers find what they are looking for.
The best boards not only help customers find what they’re looking for, but also inspire them to want something they never knew they needed.
Cha Ching! If you can learn how to achieve this, you are well on your way to learning how to increase retail sales.
The key with such in-store signs is to consider how much time people are likely to spend in each area of your store and tailor your messages accordingly.
At the front of the store, you want bold, simple visual messages that provide broad insight into who you are and what your business has to offer.
If you’re going to offer promotions here, they should be simple, say 15 percent off all T-shirts.
At the point of sale, where people may be waiting in line, you can afford to get more specific messages and more elaborate promotions.
For example, the counter is the perfect place to advertise your loyalty program where you may need a little more explanation.
It’s also an excellent idea to train your staff to mention the program during the checkout process to request registrations.
The point of sale is also a great place to use cross-selling tactics. You can arrange a variety of small, cheaper products at the counter to help customers buy more than they originally intended.
Think about the last time you were at the pharmacy. What did you see at the counter? I suspect there was an assortment of small items such as lip balm, candy and chewing gum.
Have you grabbed a pack of gum and added it to your purchase without really really thinking about it? Such an impulse purchase is called an incremental sale.
Replicate this strategy in your own store to increase the average purchase.
These products may only cost a dollar or so, but if you have dozens or more transactions per day, these smaller purchases can add hundreds to thousands of dollars to your monthly income.
Information, authority and trust
As discussed at the beginning of this guide, customers are now entering the store more informed than ever before about the products they need.
That’s why they expect you and your staff to be even better informed about the products they want to buy.
It should go without saying that you should therefore train your staff to get to know your product line inside out.
How do you transfer this expertise to your customers in the same way?
Similar to the content marketing approach, use in-store signage and a customer-centric approach to convey authority on the subject at hand.
Ever wondered why the man in those old toothpaste ads wore a white coat? Was he a doctor? Of course not. He had to look authoritative so that you would trust his recommendations.
Perhaps the best sales example I’ve seen here is the yoga apparel company Lululemon. The walls of this shop are often full of photos of their staff performing challenging yoga poses.
They also post schedules showing where their staff goes and/or teach yoga classes nearby. This places the staff as both insiders and experts whose advice can be trusted.
Don’t underestimate the simple approach here. Make sure your staff reflects the diversity of your potential customer base, then make it clear that your staff are personal users of your product.
This allows your customers to identify with your products on a deeper level. This deeper connection is essential to increasing retail sales.
Make your store a destination
To increase retail sales, consider converting your business from a simple retail store to a destination.
This gives you an edge over online retailers that can offer lower prices but lack that sense of community.
To achieve this, you provide amenities that make the shopping experience more enjoyable.
Not only does this increase foot traffic, but it can also keep shoppers in your store longer, increasing the likelihood of them making a purchase or increasing their purchase size.
Some amenities to consider adding include:
charging stations for smartphones
free beer or wine if it aligns with your brand and target audience.
You can even mix your events into this strategy to offer things like free classes or consultations. For example, if you’re a craft store, you could offer free sewing or embroidery classes to attract shoppers.
Depending on how much you want to invest in teaching, you can even start charging for these classes, turning them into an additional income stream.
Customer service and the ‘Wow’ moment
Bringing people to your store is a big part of the challenge of increasing sales. That’s why every person who comes through your door should be treated as a cherished and important person.
Greet people as they walk through the door, quickly discover what they need and find a way to personalize their experience.
As a rule, if someone wants a bland, in-and-out experience, they will generally visit a major chain. But if they’ve come to your door, it’s safe to assume they want a unique experience.
It’s up to you to figure out exactly how to give that.
Above all, your mission at this stage of the funnel is to provide a fantastic customer experience, coupled with incredible customer service.
There’s nothing that isn’t worth trying. Retailers have been experimenting for so long with design, layout, color scheme, music, scent, cues, staff uniforms and more – to delight customers and encourage them to pull out their wallets.
Remember, you don’t know if something works until you try it. So take on the challenge and see what you can do to help your customers “WOW!” to let you say.
4. During the sale
Small business owners love bringing in new customers, but the fact is, the customer right in front of you is probably your most underused resource.
How many customers walk out of your store and spend all they were willing to pay? How many are so enamored with their experience that they’re going to tell their friends? How many will come back tomorrow? Or in a week?
It may seem like the small business funnel would end at the point where you complete the customer’s transaction, but there’s so much more to tap into here.
By taking advantage of the opportunity ahead of you, you know you’re getting the most value out of every customer.
There are four key goals that your staff should pursue at the time of the transaction to increase your retail sales and maximize profits:
Mouth to mouth
Upselling is really an art. Suffice it to say, if you don’t train your staff on how to get more out of your customers, you’re missing out.
For any retailer looking to see a rapid increase in sales, implementing the right upsell training for their staff is probably the most efficient.
Make people happy
A potential customer should feel happy the moment they enter. There should be a welcoming atmosphere that invites people and encourages your staff to interact with potential customers.
It’s important to note that your employees are your most valuable asset because they create the experience your customers will remember.
In the future, remember this:
happy employees = happy customers = increase in sales
So how do you produce happy employees? The best way to make sure your employees enjoy coming to work is to understand their personal goals.
The primary responsibility of a successful manager is to help their employees achieve their professional goals.
To unlock the greatest potential of your employees, show that you care about them and that you really want to help them achieve their goals.
Once you understand your employees’ personal goals, you can align your business goals appropriately.
By creating the right alignment, you will have happy, motivated employees who reward you for hard work and who are eager to take care of your customers.
Why is this so important? Well, who would you rather buy from?
Someone who hates his job and feels miserable
Someone who loves his job and has a smile on his face?
Ultimately, your employees are responsible for creating the in-store experience for your customers.
If they love what they do, they will reflect this in their attitude and the level of customer service they provide, delivering the highest possible customer lifetime value per customer.
Invest in training
So now that you know your employees’ goals and have created an exceptional work environment, it’s time to train your unique team.
First of all, it is essential to convey your expectations to your employees. You want to have everyone on the same page and know what to expect from each other.
It is important to address the following:
How do you expect your employees to treat customers?
How quickly do you expect someone to complete a transaction?
What is the process to close trades?
How much income should each employee generate?
What are the performance expectations of each role?
Does the staff have the potential to earn bonuses for outstanding performance?
If not, how do you reward great performance?
After you set your expectations, it’s time for the employees to learn their jobs. Map out their roles and responsibilities and guide them every step of the way.
Each employee should have a high level orientation as well as at least one training more specific to their role.
Note: It’s crucial to remember that what may seem intuitive or obvious to you, probably won’t be to your employees. When in doubt, chew it out.
Before your employees interact with customers, it’s important to play through common scenarios. Define the most common types of customers, questions, conflicts and issues they face every day.
Then play out different scenarios. Give feedback and repeat as necessary until you feel your staff has sufficient insight into how they can represent your company in the right way.
Every employee should be focused on doing better every day than the day before. If they know that doing their job well will help them achieve their personal goals, they will be motivated to improve.
The more open and honest this communication is, the more likely you are to improve your business operations and increase your revenue.
Finally, you hold regular training sessions and role plays with your customer-oriented staff.
Whenever you receive a new product, sign up with a distributor, or change your pricing strategy, you need to train your staff on how to communicate it to your customers.
Customer communication is key to creating a great experience and is integral to learning how to increase retail sales.
Interact with your customers
Have you ever been to the Praxis? Nothing is easy to find in that store, it always seems eerily empty because of the size of the store and finding an employee is always a crime.
Have you ever been to an Apple Store? If so, you may understand why it is the most profitable store per square foot in the world.
According to research and consulting firm Retail Sails, the Apple Store earns more than $5,500 for every square foot of retail space, more than twice that of Tiffany & Co., which earns up to $2,951.
In addition to Apple’s beautiful store design and layout, they have friendly, smiling employees who greet you right away.
This is crucial.
Every person comes to your store for a reason, and every person can buy something and help your business, so smile and greet them.
Ask them if they are visiting your store for a specific reason or if they were just in the area. This is an excellent way to understand your potential customer’s motivation.
But regardless of their intentions, every customer should be treated the same because every person who walks through your doors can become a loyal customer.
Remember that every interaction is an opportunity for you to serve your customers, nurture a relationship and make a sale.
The key is to test new greetings and new opening lines when welcoming customers.
Find out what works for your store and continuously iterate based on sales data and customer feedback.
Value before price
The most important factor in increasing retail sales is explaining the value of your offer before announcing the price.
We understand this can be difficult when prices are displayed all over your store.
However, consider an example where there is usually no price quoted and it is often the most expensive item available: the good old restaurant special.
How often do you ask the price of a special in a restaurant before ordering? Often you just order the special because it sounds delicious.
But why do this if you don’t know the price? Well, it sounded delicious and so the value was communicated to you immediately.
In fact, you didn’t need to hear the price, because in your mind the price was already justified by the value.
While it’s a little more challenging in a retail location, it’s possible to create a similar response.
The first step is to train your staff to communicate with potential customers why paying a certain amount for an item in your store is indeed a smart move.
But before they can do that, your employees themselves need to understand the value of the products your company sells.
This all comes back to proper training and making sure staff are familiar with your company’s brand and mission.
To keep your staff alert, we recommend role-playing. Take 15 minutes before each shift and walk your employees through hypothetical sales situations, telling you exactly why a particular product is worth the investment.
They should be able to explain to you why you should buy that item and why the price level is just right.
Increase the order value
Upselling is one of the best ways to increase sales in your store. If you don’t know how to increase sales in your store, mastering the art of upsell is a must.
By definition, with upselling you sell more products to a customer who already has intentions to buy. Because the individual is already in the buying phase, upselling to that person is significantly easier, as opposed to bringing in a whole new sale.
But how exactly do you sell up?
Here are a few sentences to help kick-start the upselling process:
“If you like this, I think you’ll love this too.”
This suggestive sales technique is a great way
to bundle items together and increase the number of items purchased.
The most important thing to remember is to make connections between similar or complementary items.
You have to connect well with the customer’s needs. Otherwise, it will be too obvious that you’re recommending products just hoping they’ll make an additional purchase.
An upsell should help the customer to solve his or her problem even better than with the one item they are already going to buy and offer real value.
This tactic works best when you have a well-trained and skilled workforce, a team that builds a relationship with the customer.
The key here is to train your staff on what items to recommend together. The best advice I’ve ever received is that the worst you’ll ever hear is no, so you don’t lose anything trying a recommendation.
“Excellent choice. Have you thought of this yet?”
This is a great way to increase the amount spent in your store by upselling to a higher priced item.
The product you recommend here should be priced slightly higher (about 25 percent higher than the original item – test the exact figure with your customer base!).
Now one of three things will happen:
They will buy the original product for €80
They buy the more expensive product for €100, or
They both buy for €180.
By recommending the higher price item, you now have a 66 percent chance that you will make more than the first $80.
Not bad, right?
And finally my absolute favorite – the easy option.
This works perfectly in a number of different scenarios. If you have a customer who simply cannot determine what he or she wants, we recommend two options.
“Based on what you’re looking for, I’d recommend Option A or Option B. Which do you prefer?”
The strength of this question is that it simplifies the decision for the customer.
They no longer have to analyze an endless array of different options that can be overwhelming and lead to decision paralysis.
They now only have to choose one – and the “preferred” way forces them to choose what they like better, which is much easier for someone to decide.
Combining this with one of the upsell techniques above is a great way to get more money per customer.
This also works very well if someone has already decided to buy from you. Let’s say you have a customer who just orders a coffee. You could train your staff to ask:
“We have two items that go really well with that coffee. A delicious muffin made with fresh organic honey or an apple pastry, that one is really great – which would you prefer?”
Or maybe you have a customer who just ordered a burger and fries. You could train your staff to ask:
“What do you want – a soda or a beer with your burger?”
Keep in mind that this is a more advanced sales technique and needs to be properly trained. The key is to ask this in a very friendly and sincere way.
If your staff doesn’t do this properly, it can create an uncomfortable or unpleasant customer experience. Use it wisely!
6. Creating urgency!
There are three main ways to create urgency. You encourage your staff to sell more, you encourage the customer to buy more, or you train your staff to expose customer pain points.
a great way to boost sales is to motivate the team to sell. You can do this with a contest that rewards the person who sells the most with a $50 gift card or a paid day off. The better you know your employees, the better you’ll know what they’re responding to
Another way to create urgency is to make an offer to each customer. Give a coupon for a certain percentage off what they buy that day. You can also offer a free item with a purchase. It’s important to be creative, try different tactics and see what works to boost sales for your business and what doesn’t. Remember this works best with a friendly, outgoing and happy staff
pain points are problems your customers are trying to solve. By asking the question early, “What brings you in today?” you can understand why they are in your store. Your goal then is to simultaneously increase your sales and help them overcome their individual obstacles.
Communication after purchase
Now that you’ve generated a new customer, it’s important to communicate with them after purchase. The goal of every new customer is to find ways to increase their lifetime value (LTV) or customer lifetime value (CLV).
You can only do this really well in two ways:
increase the average order value (upselling in the store)
increase the frequency of how often they buy from you
It is very important that you have a method in place at the time of the transaction to get in touch with your customer and get as much information about them as possible.
We recommend finding out their precious email first. Most loyalty systems allow you to build your customer database by collecting email addresses at the checkout.
By collecting addresses, you can associate purchases with specific people and keep a record of exactly which items certain customers regularly purchase.
Each transaction is associated with an email, so you can start building a picture of what each specific customer comes to buy from you.
If you’ve ever bought on Bol.com, you’re probably familiar with personal recommendations based on your past spending habits.
Think about how that compares to the current shopping experience you offer. What personalizations can you offer?
How many people who come into your store can you actually recommend something without talking to them first?
Most independent brick and mortar stores have very little data on who their customers are and what they buy. Obtaining an email address is your first step in changing this.
Once you have their email address, you can start communicating with these customers to increase their engagement with your store, encourage them to return, and ask them questions that will improve your business.
The first post-purchase message should be an email thanking them for choosing to spend their hard-earned money on your store.
I recommend that you also take the opportunity to ask them to rate their experience in the store. Trustpilot offers some simple tools you can use to collect this type of data via email.
As for ongoing communication, it is important that you respect your customer’s inbox. While the return on email marketing is astronomical, nobody likes spamming.
So make sure to communicate economically and with an emphasis on quality content. Today, many small business owners use content marketing to keep in touch with customers without appearing overly “salesy.”
To learn more about content marketing, read our comprehensive guide to content marketing.
If you communicate this way, you’ll probably get a better response if you send that sales promotion too.
As a promotional trial, I’d recommend asking customers to take action in exchange for a free coupon, like you like on Facebook.
Like your Page gives you another way to interact with your customer and collect data about customers, including basic demographics, the location of your customers, and information about what their favorite products are.
Have a plan to measure success
In the words of the legendary Peter Drucker:
“You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”
As a local store owner, you’ll never know if your sales and marketing tactics are working if you don’t measure their effectiveness. Here are some basic stats to help you do that:
Number of customers
It almost goes without saying, but one of the most important ways to increase retail sales is to increase the number of visitors entering your store.
Of course, you also want to increase the number of shoppers who actually make a purchase. Calculating the number of customers is easy, simply add up the number of transactions from unique customers that occurred during the day.
Calculating the number of shoppers is a little more manually intensive. You have to keep track of this by hand, using a clicker or by tracking a piece on a sheet of paper. There are also smartphone apps designed for this purpose.
While these stats are pretty basic, they’re certainly valuable for getting a good sense of how effective your efforts are at increasing foot traffic and purchases.
You can also view your total sales for the day, week, etc. as another way to measure your high-level effort.
Sales per square meter of sales space
This metric can give you a good insight into how well you are using your space. Use this formula to calculate these metrics:
Total sales / square meter of sales space = sales per square meter of sales space
Tactics such as in-store signs, engaging product displays, and sales training for your staff can all improve your sales per square foot.
Sales per employee
This metric is especially valuable if you have employees who actively sell to customers in your store.
While there’s some value in looking at the average sales value an employee adds to your business, especially if you’re considering hiring more staff, we think it’s
more important to evaluate each employee on an individual basis.
This gives you more insight into the impact that each employee has on the success of your company.
Implementing sales training for your staff can also be a way to measure its effectiveness.
Most POS systems automatically link purchases to an employee’s account, making this an easy metric to track.
If you’re using paper tickets or a traditional register, you’ll need to manually maintain this information.
Average sales per customer
If you make an effort to upsell and cross-sell customers, this value can indicate whether your tactic is working. Use this formula to calculate this statistic:
Total sales / number of customers = average sales per customer
First, set a base value for average sales per customer, then start implementing your upselling and cross-selling program.
After a few measurement moments you view the result (the amount of waiting time depends on your transaction volume, a lower transaction volume means that you have to wait longer before evaluating it).
There are, of course, dozens of different metrics you can use to measure the effectiveness of your sales and marketing strategies, but the above are a good starting point.
It’s important to note that one of the keys to using metrics to manage your business is to calculate their values before making any changes.
This gives you a baseline number to compare to as you adopt new sales tactics. If your financial situation allows, try trying a single tactic at a time rather than making multiple changes at once.
When you test a single tactic, it’s easy to see if the specific change you’re making is having a positive impact.
If you’re changing several things at once, it’s basically impossible to isolate the tactics that drive your success. This makes it more difficult to optimize things in the future.
If you feel like I covered a lot in this post, you’re right! You might even feel a little overwhelmed if you tackle all of these tactics at once.
But here I have to stop you right away.
Just because we’ve made all of these recommendations doesn’t mean you should adopt them all. That’s the beauty of learning to increase retail sales.
Small incremental changes can lead to sustained exponential growth.
As a small business owner, you know that there are only so many hours every day, and each of these hours is precious. So take a moment, read our recommendations again and pick one or two tactics to get started.
Implement these tactics, evaluate the outcome of each, then just start over with the next, and keep what works.
If you have time, do a few more. But no matter where you are with your business, know that these tactics are there to fall back on.
Applied correctly, they can be the key to a healthier and more prosperous business.
Joost Nusselder is The Content Decoder, a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new tools en tactics. He's been working on a portfolio of niche sites since 2010. Now since 2016 he creates in-depth blog articles together with his team to help loyal readers earn from their own succesful sites.