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Retail

How to Increase Retail Sales: 10 Tips

How to Increase Retail Sales: 10 Tips

Here’s something that’s on the minds of retailers around the world: how to increase retail sales in-store.

Most retailers share the goal of driving more foot traffic and continuing to bring shoppers back to their stores, but there’s a second hurdle inherent in that goal: what good are more customers if you aren’t making the most of your in-store sales? 

Whether it’s through cross-selling and upselling, promotions, or just flat-out amazing customer service, selling more during peak hours is a must for any retailer that wants to grow their business. 

In this post, let’s focus on how you can do just that with ten retail sales tips: 

  1. Find your store’s peak hours
  2. Schedule your top sales associates
  3. Provide effective sales training
  4. Promote your local brand
  5. Make loyalty a key part of your retail sales strategy
  6. Offer free delivery… to your store
  7. Offer complimentary and paid services 
  8. Launch attention-getting promotions
  9. Offer customers personalized service in-store
  10. Speed up the buying process

Global State of the Retail Industry Report: Omnichannel is Do or Die

After two years of change, disruption and acceleration, the retail industry is moving into a new era. Are retailers ready?

How to increase retail sales: what customers want

The good news is you’re not fighting an uphill battle to get customers into the store. In-store shopping outranks shopping on mobile phones and ecommerce on a computer—and it outranks them by a lot, with over half of US customers preferring it. 

However, you’ll need to do some work to convince customers it’s worth it to spend more once they’re in the store. It’s not enough to open your doors and wait for them to come to you. Your competitors are already doing that. If you want to take advantage of peak periods to sell more, you need a retail marketing strategy based on current customer desires.

According to our recent survey of the global retail industry, customers are focused on four key purchase drivers:

  • Shopping local. 63% of customers around the world think shopping local is important, and 37% plan to shop local more often. This is good news for independent retailers. 
  • Free shipping and delivery. Free shipping is a tried and true favorite, and tops the list for purchase drivers. While primarily considered in the context of ecommerce, physical retail can take advantage of it through free shipping to the store.
  • Loyalty. Customers want to shop with brands they know and love, and they want to be rewarded for it. Given existing customers are more valuable than new customers, retailers can increase retail sales by doubling down on their loyalty programs. 
  • Personalization. Customers want to feel like their favorite stores know them. If you’re on the hunt for how to increase retail sales, look to your sales associates and the technology they’re using for personalized customer service. 

Creative ways to increase retail sales 

1. Find your store’s peak hours

The first thing you need to sell more during peak business hours is to actually know when your peak hours are. 

Half of your total sales come from around the 20 busiest hours of the week—this is the 50/20 rule. 2020 saw sales during peak selling hours increase slightly as shoppers became more focused in their outings, and the peaks themselves shifted from evenings and weekends to afternoons and weekdays. Now, some of those peaks have shifted back to pre-2020 levels, but there’s no hard and fast rule that says your shoppers will be following either pattern. 

If you had a good grasp on your peak hours prior to 2020, you’ll still want to find out when shoppers are shopping now. Even with workers returning to the office, the patterns of life have been shaken up enough that you’ll want to double check what your customers are doing. 

Start by evaluating the volume of people in your store and when they’re most likely to purchase. You can find that out using your point of sale system’s sales and employee reports; with Lightspeed, we suggest pulling the Sales by Hour of Day report for a clear view of the percentage of total sales each hour of the day accounts for. 

But keep in mind that peak in-store traffic might not align with your best selling hours. If customers are just browsing, your point of sale systems sales reports can’t capture that information. 

If you’re curious about your non-transactional store traffic, we’re a big fan of RetailNext, a people counter solution that measures walk-in customers, average visit durations and store flow patterns, and pushes those numbers in real-time to your point of sale system. 

It’s also a good idea to compare your online sales versus your in-store sales by day of the week. Are there days of the week where online sales or site traffic spikes? Perhaps you can run a promotion that’s exclusive for in-store customers (or offer free in-store pickup), advertise it on your site and convert more online traffic into in-store sales. 

By knowing when your online store is most active, you can explore running dayparting campaigns, timing your in-store promotions better and converting that traffic into sales.  

2. Schedule your top sales associates

Now that you know when your peak hours are, you can schedule your A-Team of sales associates to make  the most of that traffic. Hopefully your sales team is strong across the board, but even so, every store has top performers who really stand out. 

Take a look at your employee reports and pinpoint the sales associates with the highest total sales and items per transaction in relation to their hours worked. If possible, we also suggest checking their customer reviews through a post-purchase NPS survey.

You want to identify the sales associates who are most effective at closing sales and put them on the schedule during peak hours because they’re the ones who can generate the most revenue.

Retail sales tip: Reports on employee performance can help you find this data. Try running reports about upsells to find your superstars. This can tell you a great deal about which team members you want to call in during those busy periods.

In many cases, these sales associates have the most experience and have a great deal of knowledge about your brand, services and products. They’ll be able to help the customers effectively and offer relevant recommendations with a smile. 

We suggest scheduling at least one of your top-performers at all times when you’re expecting high volumes of traffic. 

However, in order to have top sales associates at all, you need to have sales associates that are ready to work—employees that aren’t burned out and that are motivated to provide the best possible customer service. The pandemic has been hard on retailer workers’ morale, with many quitting the industry altogether.

The good news is that your sales goals line up nicely with two of the main things workers need to feel less burned out: predictable, set schedules and appreciation from managers

Your peak periods shouldn’t change much week to week, so your top performers should have a relatively predictable period of time they can expect to work. Make sure they know you’re scheduling them for peak periods because you appreciate their hard work, and keep the line of communication open for all your employees. 

3. Provide effective sales training

Ideally, all of your sales associates can hold their own on the sales floor, especially when it comes to effectively cross-selling and upselling products and services. 

Cross-selling allows you to encourage add-on items to purchase, such as getting users who are buying an engagement ring to buy the matching wedding band with it. 

Upselling is the practice of getting users to purchase a product that’s a higher value than the one they were originally looking at. Instead of that $1,000 engagement ring they’re considering, you also want to show them the $1,500 counterpart and explain why it’s superior, as long as you think it’s within their budget. 

Both cross-selling and upselling can significantly increase average transaction value (ATV) and maximize revenue. Make sure your sales associates have enough product knowledge to be able to suggest alternative and additional purchases that are relevant to the customer’s wants and needs. 

You can read about cross-selling and upselling in-depth here, but here are a few simple retail sales tips to teach your employees:

  • Recommend complementary products to the one that customer is purchasing, framing it as a package, bundle deal or perfect set. If they’re buying a phone, suggest car chargers and phone cases, too.
  • Put the emphasis on the features. When upselling, search for needs customers may have that could be solved with the higher-value product. A newer version of the phone, for example, may have superior camera and call-recording features that a journalist or reporter could benefit extensively from.
  • Ask about what else the customer may need and suggest products. “Is there anyone else you wanted to shop for?” is a great question to ask, actively putting the task of coming up with additional purchases on the customer’s mind. 

4. Promote your local brand

Because a majority of customers consider shopping locally to be important, it’s important to lean into your identity as an independent retailer so they know they’re making a choice that aligns with their values.

Where your business is located will impact what customers define as shopping local. 

Lightspeed found that Canadian shoppers valued buying from retailers based in their country more than anyone else we surveyed, and they rank being in their general geographic region as being of equal importance as being based in their city. This means that you can catch eyes to bring Canadians into the store and make them feel good about buying more once they’re there by prominently advertising that you’re Canadian-owned. In addition, getting active in your province and closer to home in your city have the potential to generate equal amounts of goodwill.

In comparison, we found that American shoppers valued shopping with businesses based in their city more than businesses based in their wider geographical location. To capture their attention and the shop local momentum, capitalize on ultra-local flavor. That could mean participating in and supporting events in your city, partnering with local causes and/or focusing a larger portion of your marketing budget on shoppers close to home. 

5. Make loyalty a key part of your retail sales strategy

Our survey found that customers reported preferring to shop the brands they know and love over discovering new brands. Keep that in mind when you’re planning how to increase retail sales: loyal customers are going to be less work to convince to spend more than new customers.

Capitalize on this purchase driver with a three-pronged strategy.

First: reward your existing customers. If they can earn more points or dollars off their next purchase by buying more now, they’ll be tempted to spend more. If you don’t already have a loyalty program in place, implement one now and make sure your sales associates are signing customers up at checkout. Check here for some tips to make the most of your loyalty program.

Second: entice first-time customers to return with the promise of rewards. Your existing customers already know why they love you, and they’ll appreciate the extra incentive to shop. Your new customers might need that extra push to keep you top-of-mind and come back. Try offering a sign-up bonus that will entice customers back to the store to buy more.

Third: make use of your loyalty program’s marketing tools. A good loyalty program will have tools you can use to send customers communications about promotions and personalized purchase incentives. Birthday rewards give you an annual push to bring customers back to the store, for example. And you can catch dormant customers with a promotion designed to get them back in store, giving you a chance for sales that you would have otherwise lost. 

6. Offer free shipping… to your store

Customers love free shipping. Any retail sales strategy aiming to increase spending should keep that in mind.

However, free delivery can be an undue financial burden on retailers, especially as customers want fast and free. Funding those services eats into your profit margins.

There are ways to reduce the cost burden of free shipping to out-of-town customers you can explore. But for customers closer to you, you could offer free curbside pickup (or pickup in store) as a compromise. This way, shoppers get the convenience of ecommerce, but can skip the wait time and the cost for shipping while getting their order right away. 

Between saving on shipping and coming to the store, there are multiple opportunities for shoppers to buy more than they would have otherwise. 

7. Offer complimentary and paid services 

Complementary services can not only encourage people to visit your store, but they can also encourage additional purchases. 

For fashion and apparel retailers, tailoring is a great example of a (paid or complimentary, depending on your budget) service that can drive more sales. If a pair of pants doesn’t fit exactly how a customer wants, you can close the sale by offering to tailor the garment exactly to their liking. Moreover, you can invite the customer to tailor other garments at your store. This not only helps you close a sale, but increases that customer’s lifetime value with repeat purchases. 

In-store services can help seal the deal during peak hours—they can turn browsers into buyers with the extra enticement. But they can also help you increase sales during off-peak hours. 

Say you’ve done the math and you’ve found that your peak hours have settled into a late afternoon on weekdays pattern. If you wanted more traffic in the store on Sundays and in the evenings, you could start encouraging appointment shopping. A pet store could have a groomer visit the store during off-peak hours, while an apparel store could offer personal shopping and styling then. The appointments and services will bring traffic in during those slower hours while offering your shoppers new value beyond the products you sell.

8. Launch attention-getting promotions

Here’s an easy retail sales tip: a solid in-store promo can help your employees close more sales. We suggest focusing your in-store promotional efforts on point of sale marketing and time-sensitive promotions. 

Optimize in-store promotional materials 

Did you know that your store layout has an effect on sales? Placing low-cost add-ons near your cash register can incentivize last-minute impulse purchases. We call this point of sale marketing

You’ll also want to have in-store promotional materials that can help your team with some of the selling, too. 

Signs that use FOMO-driven language leverage scarcity and urgency to remind users to take advantage of a limited-time offer, and they can incentivize people to purchase more or different products. 

Create time-sensitive in-store promotions 

Online shopping has increased significantly in recent years, partially thanks to its convenience (especially during times shoppers couldn’t visit stores). As a result, it’s not uncommon to have people come into your store to browse, but who may not have a ton of motivation to purchase.

You can drive more high-intent traffic into your store by promoting time-sensitive in-store promotions online. 

Bring customers into your physical store with flash sales, great deals on in-stock clearance items, and even offers like free gifts like a makeup palette with a purchase over a certain value. You can then have your well-trained, high-performing staff leverage upselling and cross-selling, increasing their purchases overall.

Time-sensitive can be key here because you want to drive purchases now; if people feel like a great deal will run out fast, they’ll be much more likely to purchase right away instead of wanting to think it over. 

9. Offer customers personalized service in-store

Customers like personalization. Making every customer feel like a regular when they step into the store, no matter who you’ve got on the floor, will reinforce that your business has something extra for them.

You can use technology to give your sales associates a leg up here—specifically, your retail point of sale

iPad POS systems like Lightspeed put a database of customer profiles in your sales associates’ hands (literally!). When a customer visits the store, a sales associate can look their profile up and make recommendations based on past purchases, even if they’ve never met before. That means you can offer personalized service every time. 

10. Speed up the buying process

Before the pandemic, peak sales hours were chaotic, with sales associates waiting in line to check out their customers, and customers lined up halfway through the store. It wasn’t uncommon to see customers walk in, decide it was too busy and walk back out, even if they would have likely purchased otherwise. 

Now, while traffic is steadily increasing again, shoppers have gotten used to convenience with online shopping (which has no wait times, beyond shipping). 

Setting up a mobile POS system is something that all retail stores should be doing to get to the heart of in-store delays. Each of your sales staff can have their own tablet that they can use to quickly process sales and complete transactions. They can do this anywhere in the store, without having to be at the cash register. That streamlines and improves the experience for both your team and your customers alike. It also means sales associates can serve and check out shoppers through the store, encouraging safe distancing and cutting down on lengthy lines.

An Irisys study found that the average American consumer will leave a store without making a purchase after waiting eight minutes. Retailers simply can’t afford to make customers wait, since it’s more than likely to impact their sales. 

You want customers to be able to purchase the second they’re ready to do so, as it eliminates the risk of someone walking due to a long wait time. And don’t forget that the faster your team is able to complete one transaction, the sooner they can serve another customer and make more sales.

Curbside pickup helps here as well. It marries the best of both worlds for shoppers in a hurry: they can browse online at their leisure, then skip shipping times and still indulge in the superior customer service you’ve trained your associates to offer. With a mobile POS, handling pickup orders during peak selling hours doesn’t slow your employees down.

How to increase sales in retail stores? Make a plan for peak hours  

Increasing retail sales during peak hours sounds like it should be easy, but unless you’re taking intentional steps to maximize sales, there’s a good chance that you’re missing out on major revenue. 

These ten retail sales tips will go a long way in helping you to increase your overall sales.

  1. Find your store’s peak hours
  2. Schedule your top sales associates
  3. Provide effective sales training
  4. Promote your local brand
  5. Make loyalty a key part of your retail sales strategy
  6. Offer free delivery… to your store
  7. Offer complimentary and paid services 
  8. Launch attention-getting promotions
  9. Offer customers personalized service in-store
  10. Speed up the buying process

Ready to implement these tips into your store? You need a commerce platform that can keep up. Get in touch for a free consult to see if Lightspeed is the right system for you.

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