When you're looking for a Retail Sales Strategy that works, especially during Covid, it's simple: you need to be brilliant on the basics. I had been hired in my business consultant role by a man looking to open a new store.
After assessing the location and merchandise ideas, I turned to the would-be retailer and asked, "Who is your customer and why is she shopping with you?"
He replied, "I want everyone and everywhere, from old to young, guys, women, straight, gay - all of them." That sounded familiar, as one of the things no one told you about starting a business was that not everyone is your customer. So many new business owners think they can just put their arms around an entire town, region or state and be successful.
I have news for you, your arms aren't that wide. You have to narrow your focus...
The best retailers know who their target customers are and why those customers are shopping with them...
If you don't enjoy putting your own furniture together or you have the wherewithal to buy a couch someone else put together for you, then IKEA is not interested in courting you.
If you think a cup of coffee should be 50 cents with free refills served from a hot plate that keeps the generic liquid warm all day, then you are not a target for Starbucks.
Whether you are an experienced merchant or brand new, here are retail sales tips to grow your business:
9 proven strategies for how to grow your retail success
Know who your customers are, and who they aren't is the number one retail sales strategy for your small business success. Knowing keeps you from overestimating demand and helps you create a vibrant niche for your shop.
Court customers who can pay full price. The temptation is to chase the cheapskates - don't do it. You are buying their loyalty with your own lost profits. Yes you can buy closeouts and last year's items but there's a reason they are cheap - low demand. Stores exist to answer shoppers' one question, "What's new?" Good customers will pay for that. When you give care to what you buy for your store – once you really understand who your customers are – they will buy from you.
Attract new customers with great windows, an engaging website, a blog and social media. The logical step when you want to go after full-price customers is to give them a consistently high-quality experience. That means killer window displays that tempt desire with one grouping, rather than hard selling everything in-store. That means paying for a website that mirrors a high-quality experience with your hours, directions and what customers will get from coming in to your physical store. It means a blog that continues to help your customers do more with the items you carry. And it means a compelling social media strategy that includes Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and more.
Pay your employees more. There's a reason many a small retail business stays small - they think small and try to limit every cost. When you pay your sales staff more, you can expect more. Stores that pay higher wages with more full-timers have lower turnover and higher profitability. You have to see the hidden costs behind everything. Never compromise your store's ability to create an exceptional experience for your customers due to hiring whoever will work for the lowest wages.You are known for your compromises more than your successes in business.
Train your employees on an ongoing basis. The siren song for many retailers is hiring competitors' former employees because they're already trained. I would challenge you that they are trained - probably on the job with little followup - to work in that other store. That means they have a "right" way to do something - whether it's your way or not. Which means you inherit a system often at odds with your own. Take nothing for granted when it comes to how your employees answer the phone, greet a customer, sell your merchandise - even take out the trash. Retail sales training is a must.
Curate your merchandise SKUs. More lines, more models, more choice is not what customers are looking for. Your customers are looking for the best choice. That means you want to be a curator that organizes and presents a collection of products customers can clearly see have advantages over the competitors. (Signage can help you a lot here.)
Engage the customer in the best way. Notice I didn't say greet the customer. Merchants who station a greeter at the front of the store to parrot, Hi, how are you today? are not engaging, they're annoying. The best retailers, the ones who hire and train better, know the game is to engage the customer in a conversation. That doesn't mean to badger them with 100 questions or direct the customer to a kiosk but to encourage your sales associate to find a way to engage the customer in a back-and-forth dialogue. To be helpful. To be handy. To be human. To elevate the customer experience.
Invite shoppers to return often. The last thing your customers will take with them is how you sent them back into their own world. Thank you is fine but the best sales professionals find a way to come around the counter, thank the customer again for their purchase and invite them to return to your retail store. Friendly, engaged and memorable is still what is needed during Covid.
Livestream on Facebook and Instagram. Social media is for more than offering discounts, coupons and product shots. Using a livestream that answers potential customers' questions, teaches existing customers something new, and does it all with an authentic personality brings new eyeballs to your content and new foot traffic to your doors. Discover how 5 Independent Retailers Are Killing It With Facebook Live Video and remember it is called Facebook, not product book.
Get these nine proven retail sales techniques and strategies right and you'll be able to compete with showrooming, big boxes, and a landscape where even with business closures due to Covid there are simply too many places to buy too much of the same product.
And while you may have fewer customers walking in the door, those who do are motivated to buy, not just shop.
Don't just be nice to them, sell your merchandise.
To have Bob virtually train your crew how to sell your merchandise, not clerk it, check out SalesRX, his online learning platform.
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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.