5 Employee Behaviors Stunting Your Ability To Increase Your Retail Conversion Rate

By Bob Phibbs

bad employee behaviorsWhile a lot of people moan about fewer people going to the mall, what really matters is improving conversion rates of those who just enter your shop compared to those who enter and actually buy.

You can't control the tariffs, the traffic, or the weather. but you can control your four walls.

If you're looking at improving conversion in your retail store, you'll need to use some kind of traffic counting or some might call it people counting software to compare the number of physical bodies walking in so you can compare the number of rings on your POS system.

That data tells you how well you are doing in your brick and mortar store. A good conversion rate to work for is at least 30%. I know you already feel you have a high conversion rate but once you track traffic to sales, you'll find your sales conversion is probably closer to 10% of people walking through you doors.

And that's OK as long as you are doing everything to be customer focused. But many times, what is holding a retailer back from improving their conversion rate happens not online but in the brick and mortar store through their own employees.

Recently a friend of mine shared this story about walking into a Starbucks in Houston. "After not being greeted in any way, I ordered a cappuccino.

The Barista looked at me and in a condescending tone said, "You know that's the one with lots of foam, right?".
I said, "Uhm, yeah. A cappuccino has foam.".

The barista replied, "Yeah, but like 50% foam. I can't tell you how many times I have to remake this drink because people don't know that. So, do you actually want a latte? That's what everyone wants."

Discover more retail sales training tips here

I said. "No. I want a cappuccino. I know what a cappuccino is. It was the absolute worst. The first thing he said to me was a snarky accusation that I had no idea what I just ordered."


That would be the first employee behavior that puts shoppers on guard and limits your ability to improve conversion rates: a feeling of superiority over shoppers.

What we would call a bounce rate online happens because the shopper clicked away, we call leaving the store empty-handed.

Here are four more employee behaviors that might be affecting your sales conversion rate of lookers into buyers:

Body odor. While it can be great to bike to work, in the summer especially, that can lead to sweating and, well stinking . Whether it comes from under their armpits, off of their clothing, or out of their mouths, being unaware of personal hygiene is one that can be hard to deal with if you haven't told them prior about your standards. That's why every job description I've ever crafted covers dress code and contains the words: "Maintain personal hygiene so as not to be offensive to shoppers or other employees." When you're trying to increase your conversion rate, oftentimes some of the easiest to fix are overlooked.

Snark or Sarcasm. When you’re around friends, it can be fun to poke fun at each other or roll your eyes. They get you and know it doesn’t mean anything. At work though, between employees on the floor, it can make a shopper feel on guard. If they talk that way about each other, how will they treat me? Much like the body odor, the best time to nip this in the bud is during onboarding. After that, the first time you hear snark on the floor, remind them their job is a performance for the shoppers and converted shoppers are the ones who pay their wages.

Desperate followups. When I was purchasing a new car, the dealer didn’t have the model I wanted. I had to give a deposit and wait for three months. A week later, I received five phone messages urging me to come in that day to pick it up. Nowadays you can still annoy people by leaving too many voicemails, texts, or emails. The urgency and repeated outreach gives a sense the retailer needs the sale – not the shopper needs the product.

Body language. When I do sales coaching with clients, one of the most common challenges is getting people to notice where their arms are. When your arms are crossed across the body, it says I do not trust you or I’m lying to you. When arms are thrust behind the back, it is a stance of waiting and being unapproachable. The best way to fix this is to look in the mirror throughout the day and check yourself. Arms should be at your sides, back straight but not at attention. And your face should be at least welcoming if not happy.

See also, Retail Shoppers' 50 Pet Peeves About Retail Employees

In Sum

Yes, traffic counts are lower because fewer shoppers are coming into stores. The browsers are visiting online retailers. That should mean you automatically have higher conversion rates.

When someone does show up to your store, they are motivated to buy. To increase your conversion rate, use these tips to improve how your associates put their best behavior on display so you can convert more lookers to buyers. 

I have a complete system of how to convert more shoppers into customers. Find out more by clicking this link.

Get Bob's Retail Sales Training NOW

The 5 Shifts Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Are Making to Generate Up to 20% Higher Profits Every Month

Are you a hungry brick-and-mortar store owner who’s ready for a fresh, people-obsessed strategy? This training is for you if you want to grow your business using a powerful customer experience formula proven to make your cash register chirp.

I'm ready to win