9 strategies for boosting retail sales

August 26, 2015 Uli Aschenbrenner No Comments

Increasing sales in your business can seem quite complex when you consider all the parts that come into play. In truth though, there are only really three ways to grow your business:

  1. Increase the number of customers
  2. Increase the number of sales
  3. Increase the value of sales

Increase the number of customers

When business owners think about growing their business, this is what most of them think of. If you’re get 100 customers per month now, increase the number to 110 customers per month, and you’ve increased your business by 10%.

Increasing the number of customers you receive can be overwhelming, so we’ve put together a list of our top three:

#1 Partners

Partnering with other businesses that share the same audience as your target market (without being direct competitors) is a great way to attract new customers.

By partnering with other organisations, you leverage off their existing relationship with customers, helping to bridge the gap of trust in customers minds.

Be careful about selecting the most appropriate brands based on your company values though, because being seen to associate with a partner that’s in conflict with your values will tarnish your brand (think about if greenpeace were to partner with Shell oil).

#2 Online advertising

Online advertising is a great way to get measurable results for your business. While it’s a little harder to track for physical stores, online advertising is a great way to target in on the exact demographic, intent or location of your audience, allowing you to get good return on investment for your advertising dollar.

Some great places to start advertising online are:

AdWords

While I wouldn’t recommend AdWords display advertising (aside from remarketing) for most small to medium retailers, AdWords search advertising with a product feed is a great way to pick up on prospects with the intention to buy.

Advertising on keywords that are product specific, location specific or type specific are a great way to start.

If you don’t have an eCommerce store, consider advertising on your brand (depending on your Google rankings and competitors), and local searches. Keep in mind, tracking conversions (sales or enquiries) may be a little harder to do, but so long as you’re tracking your phone calls, emails and contact forms, it’s a good start.

Facebook

Facebook is a great way to connect with your audience and their network. You can use Facebook advertising to promote your page or posts, targeting your demographics quite tightly.

I’d recommend promoting some interesting posts (perhaps an image of your product?), and run ads on a CPC (Cost Per Click) basis (rather than CPM). This allows you to get greater results and ensure you’re actually getting people to your website, rather than simply seeing your ad on Facebook.

If you do decide to try Facebook advertising, just don’t fall into the trap of advertising for ‘Likes’, when it doesn’t measurably add value to your bottom line. I can appreciate some sense of brand perception, but it’s much better to focus on getting likes from your existing customers (you can upload an email list to advertise to them), and funnelling customers through your website.

Pinterest

Using Pinterest as a channel doesn’t necessarily mean you should advertise on there, however if you have good photography, it can be a great way to show off new products and get visitors back to your stores or eCommerce site.

A good way to start is to develop your channel, get involved and see how many visitors you get. As with any advertising channel, the key is in testing and measuring your results.

#3 Guerrilla marketing

If you’re not familiar with the term, guerrilla marketing is simply advertising your business in an unconventional way, with a minimal budget. The key to guerrilla marketing is doing something on the fringes of what’s acceptable, or breaking the pattern of thought for your audience.

Some great ways to start guerrilla marketing are:

Events

Events take a huge amount of energy and organisation to pull together. With so many like minded people in one place, it’s a great way to get in front of your prospective customers at minimal cost.

SageOne did a cheeky event campaign at Xerocon recently, which was a pretty good example of guerrilla marketing at an event. It even created a little online buzz for them:

Spray painting

Whether it’s a graffiti mural, or a temporary sign, spray painting can be a great way to attract attention in key locations.

Crumpler did this years ago, when they were trying to establish their brand (and still do today). For the style of business they are, and their target market, this works very well.

spray painting

If you decide to do this however, keep your brand in mind (obviously spray painting for a luxury brand, may not work so well) as well as any council laws and the environment.

Flyers

Handing out flyers on the street is just annoying. It’s not targeted to a specific audience, and more often than not, they end up in the bin 100m down the road.

Distributing your flyers in a more creative, targeted way however, can be quite effective.

Again, Crumpler provided a good example of how to do this correctly. Rather than simply handing out flyers on the street, they tied mini-flyers to parked bicycles around the CBD offering a discount on their cycling bags.

Increase the number of sales

Although it’s important for business growth, increasing the number of customers you get certainly isn’t the only way to increase your sales – and in many respects, it often takes considerably more effort. After all, you have to get yourself in front of your audience, build trust with them, and show better value than competitors.  

Another method to boost retail sales is to increase the number of sales you receive per customer. If your customers buy once a month, can you increase that to twice a month, or three times a month?

Increasing sales volume from existing customers can quickly and easily increase revenue, especially considering you’re often at arms length of being in contact with them via email, or social media.

Here are a few ways to increase the number of sales you receive:

#4 Discount/sale

Sales and discounts are not only a great way to get rid of old stock, they’re also a great way to boost revenue by enticing existing customers to revisit and consider another purchase.

In many cases, offering sales on smaller items draw customers into your store, leading your customers to purchase bigger items while you’ve got their attention.

There are a variety of different sales to host – if you need ideas you can check out: how to successfully run a retail sale.

#5 Re engage

Staying at the ‘top of your customer’s mind’ is important for any business. This is important to ensure that you’re the first choice for a customer when looking to purchase a new product, as well as introducing new products to customers that they may want, but not yet be aware of.

There are a variety of ways to re engage or stay at ‘top of mind’ for your customers, but here are our top picks:

Email marketing

If you haven’t yet built an email marketing list, you’re missing out on a great way to get in contact with your customers and prospects.

Email marketing allows you to notify your customers of changes, sales, new products, as well as establish your brand and build a relationship.

If you haven’t yet developed a mailing list, a good way to start is by offering exclusive membership discounts – capturing your customers details upon joining as a member. This not only serves to develop a mailing list, but also helps to clarify your customers via demographics etc.

Social media

Being present on social media is also a great way to connect with your prospective and existing customers.

While it can be easy to waste time on social media, if done carefully, it can be a fantastic way to boost sales and get customer feedback.

Some  great examples of this are  @lornajane and @lululemon on Instagram and Facebook. If you’ve ever taken a glance, new products posted on their Instagram accounts are often sold out within days of being posted – showing how powerful the platform can be.

Good places to start for retailers to start on social media are:

  • Facebook,
  • Pinterest, and
  • Instagram

Sponsorships

Sponsorships are typically a more expensive way to increase brand exposure, but it doesn’t always have to be that way. Sponsoring local or upcoming events, sports professionals, artists or the like can be a cost effective way to reach your audience – especially in a niche market.

Associating your brand with figures or events, which your target market are a part of, or aspire to be like, is a very powerful way to build credibility and trust in your prospects and customers minds.

Offer your product to the sponsee, get their feedback or arrange an agreement to promote your product with their audience.

If your customers are a part of a group, this keeps your brand engaged with the audience and builds a long term relationship with them, bringing them back to your store on a regular basis.

#6 Up-sell/cross-sell/down-sell

McDonalds is famous for the “would you like fries with that?” up-sell to customers. It’s a simple question (with clever pricing) that has significantly increased the profit of McDonalds.

Up-selling (increasing the number or value of items purchased in a transaction) to customers by offering a higher priced or additional complimentary item/s is a great way increase the number of sales, as well as average sales value.

An example of this was when I went to purchase a sleeping mat. My initial requirements were to purchase something that was lightweight, comfortable and durable. Upon speaking to the sales person, they advised me that another mat was better for me, as it contained insulation, was more durable, and lighter weight.

The end result was that I ended up spending more than I had anticipated in order to get a better sleeping mat – or in other words, I was up-sold.

Cross-selling (offering an alternative item or additional item) is also a way to increase sales or sales value, by suggesting items to the customer that they may not have thought about.

For example, again, when I was interested in purchasing a sleeping mat, the salesperson mentioned that camping above the snow-line meant that the lightweight mat I wanted would be better accompanied by an under mat (thermarest z lite) as it would provide more comfort and better insulation in the 4th season.

My normal mat could be used comfortably for 3 seasons, and the addition of the ‘z lite’ would help with the 4th season – keeping me lightweight and comfortable for both occasions.

The end result was that I was cross-sold into another product, I hadn’t yet considered.

Down-selling (offering a different item at a lower cost) is yet another way to increase sales volume or value. In the case of a customer being more concerned with price, down-selling is an opportunity to make a sale on a lower value item, rather than missing out on a sale altogether.

The key to down-selling is not to push customers into products that don’t meet their needs, and instead help them make a compromise. Pushing customers will make them feel like you don’t have their best interests in mind, and will degrade their level of trust in you and your brand.

Down-selling properly improves a customer’s experience by showing that you understand their needs, and are helping them to meet them, despite having to compromise.

Increase the value of sales

Just like increasing sales volume, increasing the value of sales leverages of your existing customers or prospects coming to your business.

To best take advantage of each interaction, consider incentivising customers to increase the average sales value. In other words, if your average sale value is $100, are there ways in which you can ethically serve your customer or prospect to spend $110?

#7 Train your staff

Whether the training is in product (and understanding it’s features and benefits), in communicating features and benefits to your prospects or customers, or serving them better, training your staff in sales can make a dramatic difference to your bottom line.

If your staff can help a customer to make a better decision, that can easily increase the average sale value, or result in a higher conversion rate from prospect to customer.

Instead of spending $100, they may spend $150, and instead of converting 1/10 prospects, they may convert 2/10.

Small changes in sales value can have a significant impact in your overall sales revenue.

#8 Bundle

Ikea has done an amazing job of putting you in an environment that’s conducive to buying. Not only are you forced to walk through their (seemingly endless) display of products, but you can also see it in a beautiful setting, making it more real for you to see how it’ll fit in your home.

Another clever strategy that’s implemented by Ikea is to bundle products together for a combined price. Want a table? How about you buy a table and chair set for a combined cheaper price?

Bundling is nothing new to retailers, but many still forget or neglect to implement it.

Consider packaging popular or related products together and decrease the overall price, to increase your average sale value.

#9 Incentivised rewards

No doubt you’ve seen supermarket chains implement flybuys or fuel vouchers with partnering businesses. These are clever strategies to increase sale value and brand loyalty.

If you’re not familiar with the concept, incentivised rewards are the process of offering a reward such as a competition entry, bonus points or a discount for spending more money with a business.

It’s a great way to both increase the average sale value or brand loyalty. Some examples of this are:

  • Spend over $X, get 25% off
  • Buy two, get one free.
  • Get ‘X’ points for every dollar you spend
  • Spend $X to enter the draw to win
  • Buy three products to enter the draw to win

Clever businesses even bring ‘gamification’ into the process to make the process more enjoyable and repeatable, tying consumers into the brand and getting them to spend more.

Summary

Many business owners become overwhelmed with growing their business. While it can seem like a daunting task, the truth is, it’s a combination of small changes that considerably increase the effectiveness and ultimately profitability of a business.

By simply making incremental and measured changes to increase the number of customers, sales and average sales value, your business can quickly and significantly increase its sales and hopefully it’s profits too!

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