15 Methods to Increase Retail Sales
How to Improve Your Retail Sales
If you've landed on this page you are probably looking for ways to increase sales in your shop or retail business - and you need help fast! Perhaps you're a store manager wondering how to reach this month's sales quota, or you're running your own business and need some advice on how to increase sales so you can afford to pay your own wages.
Either way, you can relax: you've come to the right place. This is a no-nonsense, practical and down to earth guide to how you can increase sales in your shop on a daily, monthly and yearly basis.
I've been the store manager for several small retail businesses and I'm about to share some of the best tricks of the trade with you.
There is no strange marketing jargon, or tricky sales psychology to learn—just sound advice and simple sales techniques that I have learned through the years that you can implement today.
1. Use Short Term Sales Promotions to Increase Sales Today!
Sales promotion is a short term promotional technique designed to increase sales. It is one of the seven components of the promotional mix, but you don't have time for hearing about the academic research that has been done in the area, all you need to know at this stage is:
Sales Promotions are easy to set up and are likely to show results in your sales immediately.
All you need is pen and paper, some stock that you need to shift fast, and a really visible place in your shop where customers can't miss your offer - right next to the counter is always a winner!
Planning & Executing Your Sales Promotions
If you're thinking of doing a sales promotion as a last minute measure, you're probably best off using older stock that have been gathering dust on the shelves for a while.
Going forward, you will learn to plan ahead and buy good margin products specifically for these kind of promotions so you don't end up losing money.
Customers like Sales Promotions as they feel like they're getting a better deal, and you end up with more money in the till at the end of the day. It's a win-win situation!
Popular Sales Promotions Offers:
- BOGOF - Buy one get one free
- Buy one, get one half price
- Discounts, for example 50% off. Make it time limited offer, for example 'this week only' to add a sense of urgency.
Ways to Increase Sales This Month
2. Use Window Displays
Your window display is one of the single most important places to promote your business, so don't ignore it.
There is nothing worse than a dusty, neglected window with sun faded products on display - who wants to visit a shop like that? Whether you're selling sweets, electrics or children's toys - keeping your window display clean, up to date and interesting is an absolute must.
When I worked in a gift shop, we constantly welcomed new customers who had spotted something they liked in the window - and our regulars were always excited to see the new products and it reminded them they should pop in for a visit.
- Change the Window Display every week, or bi weekly if you're really struggling for time.
- Clean the window on the outside every week, and on the inside every month. Vacuum and clean the floor - there should be no dead flies or dust rats lying around.
- Show your prices clearly. Yes the competition will be able to see how much you're charging, but if they are really interested, they'll find a way to find out anyway.
Have you ever looked at a boutique window and decided on the spot that it all looks too pricey and you don't want to embarrass yourself by going inside and ask how much that gorgeous cardigan is? Guess what, that boutique is losing business by not showing their prices and the same thing will happen with your shop unless you add a couple of price tags.
3. Use Point-of-Sale Displays
Point of Sale Displays can act like an extra sales person in your shop - you see them everywhere in supermarkets and bookshops for example. They come in all shapes and sizes, from custom made cardboard shelving units showing the latest bestseller books, to wobbling signs hanging from the ceiling promoting the benefits of a garden fertiliser.
They don't have to be supplied by the product manufacturer, with a little imagination you could create your own. The point is - they make one particular product stand out from the crowd and help push sales.
4. Move Stock Around
A couple of weeks ago my supermarket moved the cheddar cheese from the left side of the cooling cabinet to the right hand side. While I was busy looking for my favourite cheese, I accidentally stumbled upon a new cheese that looked nice. And voila, by simply moving stock around, the supermarket had tricked me into trialling a new product.
Your regulars will know exactly where you stock the nails and hammers, or the latest board games so make sure you move stock around every now and then. You will be surprised at how a seemingly old product become popular again, just because they've been moved to a new shelf.
5. Place Impulse Buys at the Tills
Make use of the space by the tills - its no accident that supermarkets stocks sweets, gossip magazines and chocolate there. They know you will be tempted to pick up an impulse purchase on your way out!
What would be a good impulse buy in your industry? Dog treats in a pet store, freshener sprays in a shoe store and funky socks in a clothes stores are just some examples I've seen this week. Imagine if just as many as 20% of all your customers picked up an extra £5 item - its all adding to the bottom line!
6. Overhaul Your Signage
Whether you call them sidewalk talkers, A-signs or Sandwich signs - they are a super important weapon in your arsenal. If you have one of these signs, how often do you update them?
When I worked in a tea and coffee shop specialising in freshly ground coffees and teas available in lose weight, the sidewalk talkers was the single most important place where we told customers about new recipes and blends.
As soon as a new sign went up, we had curious customers coming in to trial the new products straight away. We saw instant increases in sales.
- Update your sandwich sign at least every week.
- A hand written sign looks welcoming and saves you money on expensive design and print costs.
- Consider getting a chalk board style sign - then you can update it every day!
7. Restock Shelves
Although this is hardly rocket science, I'm still surprised at the number of retailers who make the mistake of not actually showing their products. How could you possibly sell goods hidden away in a storage room?
A variation of this mistake is to only show one product in the store and leave the rest in storage. This is particularly bad mistake to make if the product comes in different sizes or colours.
'But the customers will ask me if they want to see other sizes,' I hear you say.
There are a couple of reasons why you should always show all colour variations and all sizes and options of a product.
- Firstly, customers don't necessarily want to talk to you, many customers just want to be left alone and won't ask you any questions if they can avoid it.
- Second, they might not even know they would like that coat or vase in yellow so why would they think to ask you for that colour?
- Third, a big display with all variations look more impressive and is more likely to catch the customer's eye. And why is that good? Because it leads to sales!
8. Make Sure Everything Is Priced
Yes, everything in your shop must be clearly labelled. Can you imagine the chaos in the supermarket if they didn't bother labelling any of their products? Many customers would simply not bother asking about the prices for all the stuff they wanted and go elsewhere. The same applies for your shop!
Long Term: How to Increase Sales This Year
9. Make Friends With Your Suppliers
What do you and your suppliers have in common? That's right, you both want to sell more of their products! Getting a good working relationship with your suppliers can help you increase your sales in the long term.
- Ask if your suppliers would be willing to arrange quarterly training sessions for your new staff. When I worked in a coffe shop, my boss arranged for me to visit the suppliers and they showed me the whole process of great coffe making, from plant to roasted beans. Needless to say, I came back to the shop more enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the product.
- Check if your suppliers have any point of sales stands, posters or other marketing collateral that might help you promote your products.
- Follow your suppliers via their blogs and social media to keep up with new product launches, alternative uses and general sales ideas.
10. Employ a Long Term Marketing Plan
If you haven't already got a marketing plan in place for your business I strongly suggest you start working on one. There are plenty of books in the library that can talk you through the process of making a marketing plan that suits your business.
Its easier than you think to make an effective retail marketing plan and you can even get hold of ready made templates.
The key thing is to set specific, measurable, achievable and timed objectives, and come up with a low cost plan that helps you reach them.
11. Use Social Media
Do you really need a plan for social media I hear you ask? Surely its just about putting a new status on Facebook every now and then? Nope. Social Media is serious business nowadays, and its a low cost channel that can help you build your brand and drive sales.
In essence, your marketing plan should outline the objectives of including social media as part of your marketing mix. Then you need to create a publishing schedule and stick to it.
12. Build an Email List
Ask your customers if they'd like to sign up for your email list and use it wisely. You don't want to bombard your customers with sales messages, but everyone appreciates a monthly newsletter from their favourite shop.
13. Stocking Wisely Can Improve Sales
When you see your suppliers at trade shows, look out for products with a good enough margin to work as loss leaders and sales promotions offers. Ask your suppliers - they might be able to give you an offer if you buy a higher quantity.
Also look out for products that will stand out in your window display. Lets say you're selling children's toys and you're looking to buy a new range of soft animal toys. Buying one gigantic rabbit might not make much sense sales wise as it wouldn't fit in a child's room - but I can guarantee that it would look very eyecatching in the window and help generate sales that way.
14. Up-Sell and Cross-Sell: "Do You Want Fries With That?"
Up-selling and cross-selling can really help bringing your sales numbers up. McDonald's have been doing it for years by asking customers if they 'want fries with that'. Shoe shops have started asking if you need protective sprays for your new boots, and when I sell a dog collar I always ask if the customer needs a new ID tag for their dog as well.
Done correctly, up sell adds value to the customer's experience. Done badly, the customer leaves with a feeling of having been pushed into buying something they didn't want.
15. Improve Staff Training
Never assume that your staff knows as much about your products as you do. Also, never assume that they care about increasing your sales - after all they get paid anyway, so what's in it for them?
You could send them on a sales course, but I find that getting them involved in your sales objectives work much better long term. Tell them about your weekly and monthly sales figures, and explain whether its better or worse than last year. Ask them what they think you should do to increase sales. Get them involved and reward them when sales are up!
Do you work in retail? What are your best tips to increase sales?
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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.