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The best ways to increase retail sales

Ways to increase retail sales

Key takeaways

  • “Eye level is buy level” is a retail tactic that displays your premium merchandise in the window
  • The best ways to keep up with your customers online are via social media and Yelp 
  • Well-trained sales associates are the gateway to a great customer experience

As a small business owner in the retail business, it’s crucial to create a memorable customer experience that builds customer loyalty and referrals. When starting off, the first questions on almost every business owner’s mind are how to create foot traffic and bring in new customers. To answer those questions, here are the most effective ways to increase retail sales.

Exceptional retail marketing

It can be challenging to attract foot traffic to your brick-and-mortar store. These few tips on retail marketing can help you drive customer engagement and increase sales.

Capture attention with your window display

We live in visual times. To keep customers‘ attention, you have to think like them. Create an incredible first impression from outside your shop.

How many times have you been out for a walk in the neighborhood and been drawn to the incredible display of a new florist or gift shop? Even if it’s closed, it grabs your attention and piques your curiosity enough that you’re likely to return.

Actionable steps:

  • Write a fun joke on a sandwich board. Even if a passerby doesn’t stop to shop, there’s a good chance they’ll snap a photo for their social media. As such, make sure to add your social media handles and any hashtags to your signage. Free customer-generated marketing is the best kind of marketing.
  • Put your most impressive merchandise front and center, including trendy items that are difficult to find in other shops or are in limited supply. A popular saying in retail sales is “eye level is buy level.” Make sure that your visual merchandising displays are about four to six feet up from the ground.

Make your shop social media ready

Being social media ready means making your shop photographic enough that it will land on your customers’ social media pages. This idea goes back to customers who are helping with your marketing efforts while they shop—it’s a win-win.

Actionable steps:

  • Decorate a wall with some eye-catching signage. It can be a unique vintage poster, a neon sign with a clever or popular saying, or a piece of art or colorful wall design that makes customers stop in their tracks. 
  • Some retail stores carve out an entire corner for photo ops with props. Do what makes sense for your customer base. Even a full-length mirror with a written prompt and hashtag can do the trick.
  • Create a hashtag or selfie contest. To motivate customers to participate, offer a free gift or small discount with their purchase. Small actions like this can encourage social media sharing and in-store spending.

Host a class or speaking event

When you provide a free event with an interesting speaker or class, you’re more likely to attract foot traffic. If you’re a fitness attire store, maybe that’s a free yoga class; if you’re a bookshop, maybe it’s a book signing. 

It doesn’t have to be lavish or costly—a pot of tea and some biscuits are enough to get a shopper’s attention. The smaller the event, the more exclusive it will feel.

Fine-tune your online presence

While you have potential customers snapping selfies in your shop, make sure you have the means to engage with them online too. Not every retail business needs a mobile app or elaborate e-commerce strategy—it can be a lot simpler than that.

If your website works well on both desktop and mobile and has links to your social accounts, then you’re off to a great start. The bottom line is that you need to be part of the conversation and customer engagement that is already happening on the internet.

Actionable steps:

  • The social media landscape is constantly growing, so it can be difficult for customers to find your business amid the noise. Make yourself more discoverable by distributing your content on the platform of someone they already follow. Maybe one of your current customers has a massive social media following—ask them if they’d like to collaborate. In exchange, invite them to the launch of a new product or spotlight them in an event series, so they also get something from the exposure.
  • Update your Yelp Page to include your hours, address, location, and recent photos. Respond to reviews left by new customers, and let them know how much you appreciate their business.
  • Follow accounts of other local businesses in the neighborhood and engage with them regularly. Whether it’s about upcoming community events or content you admire, keep the door to communication open. 

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Price competitively with market research

The quickest and most effective way to increase retail sales is to beat out your competitors with pricing. To figure out what makes sense, you’ll have to create a pricing strategy.

Your pricing strategy relies on these factors:

  • The current market
  • What your competitors are doing
  • Audience segments
  • Margins
  • Operational costs
  • Economical conditions
  • Distribution costs
  • Additional variable costs

Customers care about both price and value. The cheapest product isn’t enticing if it’s poor quality and needs to be replaced quickly. When performing a competitive analysis, consider the overall value of your competitors’ offerings, not just the price. 

Market research doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive either— there are many low-budget ways to determine competitive pricing

Outstanding customer experience

Saleswoman helping a customer in a cosmetics retail store

With your marketing plan ready to go, it’s time to create the ultimate shopping experience. Even a fantastic social media strategy is useless without a matching in-store customer experience.

Merchandise like you mean it

We’ve all been in those retail stores where nothing makes sense. There’s always that one grocery store that puts the peanut butter illogically next to the toilet bowl cleaner. When you can’t find the right product easily or the store layout doesn’t make sense, it creates a frustrating shopping experience

One of the best ways to increase retail sales is to create a storyline with your merchandising. 

There’s not much of a link between peanut butter and toilet bowls, but if you want to bundle an experience together to increase sales, it may be referred to as cross-selling or cross-merchandising. For instance, it would be better to place peanut butter next to jam or crackers.

Benefits to cross-merchandising:

  • It saves customers time
  • It jogs their memory or triggers new ideas
  • It’s a targeted way to introduce customers to new products

Loyalty program

A loyalty program incentivizes your customer base to keep shopping with you. It also gives you access to their information. You can learn quite a bit about your current customer base by tracking their purchases. When you request additional information like email addresses, you can start to build an email marketing campaign. 

An email marketing campaign is a series of emails that are sent out to a targeted group of customers with messaging that is designed to encourage a behavior or call to action (CTA). This could be anything from visiting a website, signing up for an event, or making a purchase. 

Actionable steps:

  • Offer a free gift or special discount on your customers’ birthday.
  • Create a tiered points system that leads to discounts: For instance, loyal customers get one point for every dollar they spend; once they reach 100 points, they get $10 off their purchase.
  • Start a customer referral program to attract new customers: For example, you can create a personalized discount code (say, 10% off) that they can share with friends and family. Doing so can also provide insights into who they’re referring, which will help you understand your customers better.
  • Provide exclusive in-store events for repeat customers.

Always cross-check with local General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other privacy laws to ensure your email marketing is compliant. The GDPR is the toughest privacy law that aims to protect consumer information. Not abiding by these rules can result in hefty fines.

Properly train your sales associates

Your sales associates are going to make or break your customer experience, so they must be properly trained to expertly handle all sales activities.

Actionable steps:

  • Train all employees to make an authentic, human connection with everyone: new customers, potential customers, and current customers alike.
  • Implement a customer-centric checkout process and point of sale system that is both efficient and personable. For example, provide card scanners to sales associates to alleviate any bottlenecks at checkout.
  • Train them in suggestive selling to drive sales by making natural and appropriate suggestions for new products.
  • Always acknowledge new customers who enter the space with eye contact and body language even while helping other customers. 

To increase retail sales, make decisions with customers in mind

If you’ve ever walked into a shop and been snubbed by the sales associate, struggled to find a product, or waited while the employee fumbled with the POS system or cash register, then you can appreciate how important these gestures are to your shopping experience. 

Small business owners have so many balls in the air that it can be easy to forget that the most basic way to increase retail sales is to be your own customer. Be in the know about what your customers want and it will naturally provide an amazing shopping experience.

The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.