When you're looking for a Retail Sales Strategy that works, 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.
Your arms aren't that wide. You have to narrow your focus...
The best retailers know their target customers and why they are shopping with them...
If you don't enjoy putting your furniture together or 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 retail strategies for growing your business
1. Know who your customers are and who they aren't
This is the number one retail sales strategy for your small business's success. Knowing keeps you from overestimating demand and helps you create a vibrant niche for your shop.
2. 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.
3. 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, wherever they might be engaging with your
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 entering 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.
4. Pay your employees more
There's a reason many retail businesses stay 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 customer experience due to hiring whoever will work for the lowest wages.
You are known for your compromises more than your successes in business.
5. 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 follow-up - to work in that other store. That means they have a "right" way to do something - whether it's your way or not.
You inherit a system often at odds with your own.
Take nothing for granted regarding how your employees answer the phone, greet a customer, sell your merchandise - even take out the trash. Sales training is a must-have in your retail strategy
6. Curate your merchandise SKUs
Customers are not looking for more lines, more models, and more choices. 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 competitors. Signage can help you a lot here.
7. 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 badgering them with 100 questions or directing the customer to a kiosk.
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.
8. 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. Being friendly, engaged, and memorable is always what is needed.
9. Livestream on Facebook and Instagram
Social media is for more than offering discounts, coupons, and product shots.
Using a live stream 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.
Your retail strategy is the difference between surviving and closing shop
Get these nine proven retail strategies and sales techniques right, and you'll be able to compete with showrooming, big boxes, and a landscape with simply too many places to buy much of the same product.