Small Business Center
By Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender, Kizer & Bender Speaking
If you want to attract more customers to your store, start here:
Competition from all sides is vying for customers’ attention. Opening your doors is not enough. Be ready for the post-pandemic world with events on your calendar, such as a reopening open house or a grand reopening. Plan for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the winter holidays. Keep going and add events for each month of 2022. Plan each event, buy product as needed and get your team involved. In-store events do not always equate to running sales, though that’s an option. You can do make-it-and-take-its, demos, seminars, trunk shows, pop-ups, vendor days and more.
You can’t do everything by yourself; you need a team of strong associates backing you up. Be specific about what you need and be upfront about what is required. Sanitizing your store and reinforcing mask mandates may be with us for a while, and your team needs to know what is expected of them. This isn’t a time to hold back; it’s a time to sell. Hold training sessions about product and about how to deliver exemplary customer service when employees can’t see customers’ faces. Update your team frequently on what’s happening in the store, and commit to a training schedule that lasts all year. Partner new hires with seasoned mentors who can teach them about the store and about the products you sell.
Every retailer should have a “Never Out” list of the merchandise you need to have in stock 100% of the time. This list takes on even bigger significance during peak times of the year when running out of something could make or break a sale. Your point-of-sale system will likely create this list for you, but do frequent physical counts on the sales floor to make sure your list is correct.
Gift cards are your secret weapon. Notice we said “cards.” A recent study found that retailers that switch from paper gift certificates to plastic gift cards increase gift card sales by a range of 35% to 50%. And 55% of gift card recipients require more than one shopping trip to the store to spend the balance of their cards: good news for you. But beware: A gift card or certificate that’s presented in a boring paper sleeve or envelope doesn’t look like much, even if it’s for big bucks. Package your gift cards with a look that’s unique to what you sell. And because many shoppers want contactless transactions these days, offer electronic gift cards, as well.
If each of your competitors accepts returns and exchanges but your policy screams “No! No! No!” customers will shop someplace else. If you don’t have a return policy, here’s a good place to start: “Returns and exchanges are gladly accepted within ______ days. Your receipt guarantees it.” You’ll save more sales if you train all your associates to politely suggest an exchange or a gift card before offering a refund. Note that during the pandemic, many retailers have lengthened return and exchange windows.
You have product that sat on your shelves for the 60-plus days your store was closed and probably for months before. A clearance strategy for those goods is important. Packing product away for sale next year is almost never a good idea, and trying to sell past-season merchandise at full price isn’t a good look or strategy. Make a markdown plan for each piece of merchandise you purchase. Determine which merchandise will be discounted, how much it will be discounted, where it will displayed on the sales floor and how it will be signed; numbers work better than percentages. Unless you’re having a big sale, display clearance merchandise near the back of the store so shoppers have to pass through new-product displays to get to it.
This content originally appeared at www.retailadventuresblog.com/2021/07/6-big-ideas-to-grow-your-sales.html.