Last year (2018) saw a dip in consumer spending across most sectors in India. With more options available for today’s consumers, and competition from big players across the globe, stagnating or dropping sales is a common problem for small retail businesses. In this article, we will touch upon a few ideas which can help in improving your retail sales.
01 – Improve Physical Store Experience
Let us look at some of the old fashioned methods, which still hold good in the retail store business.
- Improve your VM (Visual Merchandising or Window Display)
You don’t need to spend a fortune on creating stunning window displays. All you need is a great idea. Executing the VM design can be with recycled or waste materials, like paper, scrap wood etc. If hiring an experienced Visual Merchandiser or a retail-design agency is out of your budget or scope, then do it yourself, with some help from Pinterest.com. You can get plenty of low-cost window display ideas, and execute them yourself or with a little help outside.
- Right POS Materials
If you are selling your own products or goods, invest in some well designed POS materials. If you are stocking multiple brands, these can be provided by the brands’ owners. Instead of just putting up every POS material provided by the brands, choose the ones that improve the store’s appearance, shopping experience and help customers in getting to the sale.
- Use Combo-Offers
For a walk-in customer, there is nothing better than getting a great deal in the store. Create instant-daily combo offers on limited products and numbers. You can use a black-board + chalk to write up these offers, and display them on an easel.
- Build Customer Relation
A physical retail store gives an advantage that is unmatched by an e-commerce site, a personal connection with your customer. Utilize this to the maximum and build a long-lasting relationship between your customer and your retail store. You can give personal attention to the customer, get to know more about them, understand their preferences, their background, what they like etc. Make them feel special. Educate them about your store’s advantages, offers etc. You can also take their email id, social media link etc, and convert them into your repeated buyer and a loyal one, by slowly moving them to your own e-commerce store.
02 – Use e-commerce and Technology
There is no escape from technology, especially in the retail business. If technology has thrown up new challenges to traditional retail business, it has also brought in new opportunities.
- Adapt to E-commerce
Get your own e-commerce website, apart from selling on market places like Amazon and Flipkart. Your existing store-customers can comfortably buy from your e-store, as they already know you and your products. With familiarity and credibility already in place, they get the convenience as an extra advantage from buying at your e-store.
You can use the e-commerce website to display a larger range of products and stock, without actually investing in inventory. You can educate your walk-in customers to check out a larger collection online, and place orders, which can be full-filled in few days from your warehouse or factory.
Having an e-commerce website will help you reach more people (from other parts of the city), sell more without increasing your stock or staff and grow sales easily.
- Instore Apps + Touchscreen Tabs/ Ipads
If you are in the business of fashion, lifestyle products, or higher value goods, customizable products, then instore apps loaded on tabs will be perfect for driving sales. As per your business need, you can get a custom app developed, which can help your walk-in customers. Some ideas for the apps you can use are,
- Price Comparison of different models/ makes
- Customization of a product
- Product Configuration app
- Offers Explorer app
- Loyalty Program Subscription
- Loyalty Program and Subscription
Most of us are not comfortable in telling our mobile number in front of strangers, near the queue. And filling up a printed form is difficult when we are trying to check out. One easy method to overcome both these pain points is to have a small web-app loaded on an Ipad or tab, given at the cash counter, or at the entrance. The sales staff can request the customer to enter their email + mobile number, to avail special offers and discounts.
You can also extend some special offer if they like/ follow your social media page or check-in at your store. Something they can do while they are the store, which can be rewarded with an offer that can be redeemed there itself. This will give you a clean channel of gathering customer’s contact information, as well as their social profile. Not to forget the reach your store is getting among their friend circle through the check-in.
- CRM Tool
Use a good CRM tool, which is suitable for your business model. There are plenty of free, open-source and paid versions for all sizes of retail business. Choose the right one with some advice from a professional consultant who understands your business as well as CRM tool and technology.
Once set up, integrate your e-commerce website, social media channels and campaigns, emailing, POS software, in-store apps, customer-data-capture and loyalty programs etc with the CRM. This will be your central hub for managing your entire customer data and can be constantly updated automatically or manually.
With your CRM in place, provide special offers, reminders on refill or re-purchases etc to your customers, by way of Email, SMS or Whatsapp. A well set-up and maintained CRM will help you in increasing sales to your existing customers and converting them to your spokespersons.
A mix of improvements in traditional methods and smart implementation of technologies like e-commerce, CRM, in-store apps etc can help your retail business sell more in this highly competitive environment.
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