Frugal LivingStarting a BusinessFinding a JobBusinessReal EstateIndustriesPersonal FinanceSelf-EmploymentScams & FraudInsurance

15 Methods to Increase Retail Sales

Updated on April 22, 2016
A sidewalk talker is a must!
A sidewalk talker is a must! | Source

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.

© Linda Bliss 2012

A time limited sales promotion offer - creating a sense of urgency.
A time limited sales promotion offer - creating a sense of urgency. | Source
What impression does this display leave you with? It is always worth spending a little extra time and effort on signage, even if its just a price reduction...
What impression does this display leave you with? It is always worth spending a little extra time and effort on signage, even if its just a price reduction... | Source

Short Term - Increase Sales Today!

1. Sales Promotion is a Great Sales Booster

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!

Here are Some 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.

Update your window display regularly
Update your window display regularly | Source
A good looking window display with clear pricing is likely to attract customers and generate sales.
A good looking window display with clear pricing is likely to attract customers and generate sales. | Source

Medium Term - Increase Sales this Month

2. Keep that Window Display Up to Date

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.

Small Retailers have to use all the tools at their disposal to keep sales up. This book shop has placed portable book shelves outside their store for easy browsing...
Small Retailers have to use all the tools at their disposal to keep sales up. This book shop has placed portable book shelves outside their store for easy browsing... | Source
A Point of Sales Display promoting Arctic Bread in the supermarket
A Point of Sales Display promoting Arctic Bread in the supermarket | Source

3. Point of Sales 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. 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!

Update your A-Sign regularly
Update your A-Sign regularly | Source

6. Signage Overhaul

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 Price Tagged

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!


This charity shop has made the effort to create a colour themed window display - even though they know they only have one of each item in stock!
This charity shop has made the effort to create a colour themed window display - even though they know they only have one of each item in stock! | Source
Always Re-stock your shelves. Unsurprisingly, empty shelves don't sell products!
Always Re-stock your shelves. Unsurprisingly, empty shelves don't sell products! | Source
Clear Signage makes this tiny little shop visible
Clear Signage makes this tiny little shop visible | Source

Long Term - How to Increase Sales This Year

9. Your Suppliers are Your Best Buddies

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. A Marketing Plan is a Must to Drive Business Long Term

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. A Social Media Plan Can Help You Achieve Sales

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.




How To Use Core Retail Drivers to Increase Sales

This retailer planned ahead for a sales promotions campaign
This retailer planned ahead for a sales promotions campaign | Source

13. Stock - Planning ahead 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. 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?

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      olrac29881@gmail.com 12 months ago

      hi Linda

      i will apply this and share it to my team

      keep sake

    • profile image

      Jan Maklak 14 months ago

      You forgot one of the simplest and most effective ways we have at out disposal today. SMS text marketing is cheap and effective. At Mobimart.ca we always tell out customers to build their database in good times and it will repay you 10 fold in downturns. Text marketing works because people open their texts, 95% of the time. My email list with articles on marketing only gets open by about 1/2 the opt ins despite catchy titles right length etc.

      Text marketing can instantly increase business by clearing out stock that is not moving, creating a buzz on a slow day, offering special rewards to loyal customers, birthday coupons, voting on the product they want the most (with a coupon and much more.

      Jan

    • DanielJChambers profile image

      DanielJChambers 14 months ago

      We use a retail traffic counting system to help with our sales and operations. just with the ability to staff properly it has helped us decrease overhead and optimize sales. The system we used is very accurate as it offers visual proof. We looked at ShopperTrak and others but this one was less expensive and does the job. Check it out if you are interested, I highly recommend it https://traxsales.com/

    • Kostas Vav profile image

      Kostas Vav 18 months ago

      Wow, pretty impressive stuff here! As you're mostly referring to physical stores, I would be more than interested to read your opinions specialised on digital shops as well. Although the principles should be similar the fundamental differences between digital and physical should reflect on strategies and tactics.

    • Mitch Alan profile image

      Mitch Alan 5 years ago from South Jersey

      Having been in sales and marketing for 20+ years it was nice to see some other retail sales Hubs that are both well written and actually useful. Jump over and check mine out and hopefully they will help you as well. Keep Hubbing...voted useful and interesting.

    • Linda Bliss profile image
      Author

      Linda Liebrand 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks for stopping by Michael - fingers crossed your team managers will get some inspiration from the sales tips too!

    • charmike4 profile image

      Michael Kromwyk 5 years ago from Adelaide, South Australia

      I really enjoyed this hub Linda Bliss. The concept in here allow frontline managers to get inspired to change for today as well as in the longer term. Will share this with my sales team managers at our monthly meeting tomorrow. Cheers Michael

    • Linda Bliss profile image
      Author

      Linda Liebrand 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi Farmloft and thanks for reading my hub. Yeah there is more than meets the eye with retails sales, and many new shop owners have a steep learning curve ahead of them :-)

    • Linda Bliss profile image
      Author

      Linda Liebrand 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi Case1worker and thanks for stopping by to read my hub! It seems some retailers think they can get away with not showing their prices in the window, some are just lazy and others think it will somehow help their sales in some sneaky way. Great to hear you agree with my thoughts that the pricing should always be clearly displayed :-)

    • farmloft profile image

      farmloft 5 years ago from Michigan

      voted up! Who knew there were so many things to consider in retail? I agree with advice about price tags and paying attention to the window display.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 5 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      A fantastic hub- I especially like the advice to always put the prices in the window. If the prices are not there I assume that it is too expensive and don't go in the shop- which may not be the case- also the shop miss me coming in and perhaps buying something else more in line with my budget!

      Thanks for sharing such a range of good ideas- you obviously know exactly what you are doing!

    • Linda Bliss profile image
      Author

      Linda Liebrand 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi Peg and thanks for reading my hub! In retail, some of the best ideas are often the simplest ones. Nice to hear you have shared some of my findings too - always nice to see how sales ideas can work across different types of shops!

    • Linda Bliss profile image
      Author

      Linda Liebrand 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi Brian and thanks for stopping by! One benefit of having a lot of interests and jobs in different industries is you get plenty of experience to write about. I grew up in a retail environment so it will always be close to my heart. If some of my experience can help others, then even better :-)

    • BRIAN SLATER profile image

      Brian Slater 5 years ago from England

      Hello Linda, I don't know how you do it, just when I know my way around London and have the "right " dog collar you amaze me with your knowledge of the best methods to keep the high street sales " kurchinging". I can see you working in this environment, you sound like you know this trade and I hope retailers will read these simple ideas to help with sales. Voted up awesome.:)

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      This is so terrific. What a wonderful list of ways to increase sales and you are so right about moving items around. When I would rearrange furniture at my little collectibles store, customers would notice items that had been around for months in different places. Good point about posting the prices even on garage sale items for those who don't want to be embarrassed by asking. All of these are great insider tips!

    • Linda Bliss profile image
      Author

      Linda Liebrand 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi Docmo- thanks for reading my hub and leaving such positive feedback. Your comment left a big smile on my face so thanks :-)

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 5 years ago from UK

      This is an absolute humdinger of a hub and a masterclasses in retail sales techniques. Learnt so much from here, I almost want to open an outlet of my own just to try these techniques!!

      Your experience shines through- and it takes a lot more expertise to turn that experience into an informative and highly readable hub. Well done- voted up and pressed all buttons here!

    • Linda Bliss profile image
      Author

      Linda Liebrand 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks for stopping by Ruby! Glad I could share some useful retail info with you, I really enjoyed making the list :-)

    • Ruby H Rose profile image

      Maree Michael Martin 5 years ago from Northwest Washington on an Island

      Wow Linda! This Hub is absolutely awesome! I love it. You got it down perfectly in my opinion. Retail taught me a thing or two, you learned about 5 more! LOL.

      Thanks for taking the time to share all of this wonderful information with us!

    • Linda Bliss profile image
      Author

      Linda Liebrand 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks for stopping by Simone - and thanks for the great feedback! Price tagging is one of my pet peeves, it really winds me up when shops don't show their prices and having worked in the retail industry for years I know the difference it can make to sales.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Wow, SO MUCH good advice here. All of these things definitely get ME to fork over cash, that's for sure!

      I especially appreciate your tips on working closely with suppliers (it can make such a big difference!) and making sure that products are properly tagged with prices (I am far less likely to buy something if I have to ask about the price or am unsure of how much it costs).

      Awesome guide!

    • Linda Bliss profile image
      Author

      Linda Liebrand 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks for stopping by Cookies4breakfast! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that you'll get that shop sometime in the future!

    • cookies4breakfast profile image

      cookies4breakfast 5 years ago from coastal North Carolina

      Great Hub! While my business is strictly online at the moment, if I ever get my wish, my dream is to have a brick and mortar shop. What great advice you've provided! For some reason, I was unable to access the photos, but I'm definitely going to attempt it again later today. Voted up!