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 41 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 fifty 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.
Do you know who your customers are – and who they aren’t? You need to know that’s first on my list.
8 Proven strategies for how to grow your retail success
1. Know who your customers are, and who they aren’t is the number one retail sales strategy for your small business success. Knowing that keeps you from overestimating demand and helps you create a vibrant niche for your shop.
Whether you are an experienced merchant or brand new, here are more tips to grow your business.
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, a great 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 to your shop. 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 the rest.
4. Pay your employees more. There’s a reason many small 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 experience for your customer due to hiring who 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 followup – to work in that other store. That means they have a “right” way to do something – whether it’s your way or not. That 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.
6. 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.)
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 to badger them with 100 questions or direct the customer to a kiosk but to encourage employees 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. Friendly, engaged and memorable is still what is needed during Covid.
Get these eight 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.
To have Bob virtually train your crew how to sell your merchandise, not clerk it, checkout SalesRX, his online learning platform.