9 ways to increase retail sales

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Encouraging people to venture inside your shop or restaurant for a closer look is a top priority for every business owner with customer-facing premises.

But it’s not always easy.

How many times have you watched people approach your business and then walk on?

Whether you use an appealing window display, a witty message on a chalkboard sign or the enticing smell of fresh coffee, chances are you’re using one or more tactics to tempt passers-by in.

But once potential customers are in the door, how do you avoid them taking a quick look around and then walking out empty-handed?

The following tips will help you convert those browsers into buyers.

1. Let customers try before they buy

Remember the last time you were at the ice cream shop?

As we all do, you went in with the intention of just getting one scoop. That was until you tried the double-choc-chip-cookie and raisin flavour that was just introduced. Faster than you could say “mmm delicious”, one scoop led to two. Without dwelling on the indulgence too much, there’s a valuable lesson that can be learned.

An irresistible taster is a powerful way to:

  • upsell
  • gather feedback on a new product
  • Juice bars and tea specialists often do this. For very little investment and effort, you can gauge customer opinion and convince customers to buy the product they just tried.

    2. Understand customer movement

    If you’ve just recently opened your business, track the path customers take through your space in the first few weeks. The layout and distribution of products may make perfect sense to you, but you’ll only be able to tell if things are laid out effectively from seeing customers move around your shop and interact with the products.

    If they can’t find what they’re after, they can’t buy it either.

    Also, don’t be afraid to ask customers for practical feedback relating to the layout of your shop and the way items are displayed. Gathered early, this kind of feedback can help you ensure a relaxing and inviting space that puts clients at ease.

    3. Encourage recommendations

    A common tactic used by coffee shops to widen their audience is to offer existing customers referral incentives to get others through the door. These are becoming more and more commonplace, and function particularly well when both the customer and referral have something to gain. This can be applied to retail and beauty therapy too.

    How many times have you tried something on and decided it wasn’t for you but that it would look great on a friend or family member?

    You could use social media to do this or simple loyalty cards that can be passed on to friends and relatives, or a combination of both.

    4. Try the Feel, Felt, Found method

    This is a classic strategy for gently moving your customers to a new way of thinking when they are put off by more costly items. Rather than focusing on the price of a product, the idea is that you emphasise the benefits and value the product brings the user.

  • Tell customers “I understand how you feel.” It demonstrates that you’re listening to the customer and can empathise.
  • Mention someone else who felt the same way initially. This lets your customer know that they’re not alone and that things can change.
  • Then tell them how that person found that when they bought the product, they got what they were after. That could be comfort, longevity, ease of use, etc.
  • For example:

    “I’ve heard that before about these shoes. I initially felt that they were too much. That was until I heard from other people about how long they last. One of my customers has had the same pair for four years, and the soles haven’t worn at all.”

    5. Stock up on what sells

    Even if you don’t have four sizes of a garment on the shelves, it’s important that the top selling items are well stocked, and the customer is clear that there are other sizes available if they ask. A simple message somewhere in store mentioning that there are more sizes in the storeroom should do the trick.

    You can also use any opportunity when you’re out of stock to collect a customer’s email address to alert them later when the item becomes available.

    6. Offer expert help

    If you sell products like clothing and gifts which aren’t unique to your business, consider your space as a showroom. As shoppers, we’ve become accustomed to visiting physical shops to research a product before comparing prices online. Though many may consider this an unfair advantage for online retailers, it gives you an opportunity to position yourself as a trusted expert.

    If you sell a niche product, then chances are the people coming to your shop are well informed before visiting you. Nothing says professional more than an encyclopaedic knowledge of your product range and the comparable benefits of similar items. As consumers, we love to hear from people more knowledgeable than ourselves. It also helps us dispel or confirm any doubts we have about a product. But this is something you only really get when buying locally and in person.

    If you can demonstrate added value by offering expert help to people browsing in your shop, you’re much more likely to convert them into buyers – and less likely to lose them to the online competition.

    7. Create a Facebook Instore Offer

    Facebook’s instore offers are a great way to drive customers to your business. People can easily access their Offer through the Offers bookmark and pull it up on their phone at the till. You can choose to enable a barcode or QR code to scan at checkout to make the whole process quick and easy. Facebook will also remind those that have expressed an interest in your promotion about when it is due to expire.

    8. Optimise your counter area

    What would be an appropriate impulse buy at your till? Decorated biscuits to go in a café, waterproof suede protector sprays in a shoe shop, and attractive scarfs in a boutique are just some examples. If only 20% of all your customers pick up an extra item at the end - it all adds to your bottom line.

    Consider products that complement your top selling items and solve a problem. Optical lens cleaning products at the counter in a sunglasses shop cater to those keen to keep their new investment shiny and clean for longer.

    9. Offer e-receipts

    At checkout, you can offer your customers an electronic receipt that is sent via email. Not only does this mean that shoppers don’t end up with a pocket full of paper that inevitably finds its way to the bin, it’s also easier and more practical to store a receipt digitally. As a business owner, this allows you to capture the email address of your customers to make them aware of seasonal sales and offers. It is an opportunity to extend and create a relationship with that customer beyond your shop, bar, café or restaurant. It’s a good idea to ask the customer to enter their own email address into a tablet as this significantly reduces the risk of misspelling.

    Why not incentivise the experience by offering them a gift card for signing up?

    These are just a handful of ways you can encourage customers to purchase from you and not from a competitor. If you have tactics that have worked for you that you’d be willing to share, we’d love to hear them.

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