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Retailers must do more to attract and close every sale.
Retailers must do more to attract and close every sale.

Six simple and effective selling tips you can implement right now

While some aspects of your business have undoubtedly had to change and adapt to the new reality of retail, there are other elements that you can’t afford to neglect, advise RICH KIZER and GEORGANNE BENDER.

Even when things were ‘normal’ – before COVID-19 – customers shopped in strange patterns, and their choices tended not to be divided equally among retailers. Yet the pandemic has made it even clearer that if you want to make more sales, you must do more as a retailer.

Here are six of the most effective ways to build your business and increase sales today and into 2021.

Continue to plan events and promotions

You have competition coming at you from all sides, all vying for the customers’ attention. What are you doing about it? Just opening your doors is not enough.

You need to be ready with events that are locked and loaded on your calendar. In-store events do not always automatically equate to running a sale – although that’s an option. You can do ‘make it-and-take it’ events, demos, seminars, pop-ups, supplier days – the possibilities are endless.

If you are selling online or via social media, plan something special for any digital sales days or upcoming holidays too.

Now is a fantastic time to create a calendar of sales events for each month of 2021 – both digital and physical. Plan each event, buy product, and get your team involved.

Re-train your team

You can’t do everything by yourself; you need a team of strong sales staff backing you up. Be specific about what you need and be up front about what is required to do the job.

If you have product that has been sitting dormant on your shelves while your store was closed, a clearance strategy is important. Packing them away for sale next year is almost never a good idea.

Sanitising the store and reinforcing mask mandates will be with us for a while and your team needs to know what is expected of them. That much goes without saying.

This isn’t a time to hold back, it’s time to sell. Hold training sessions about product and how to deliver exemplary service when you can’t see the customer’s face.

Update your team each time a state or community COVID-19 guideline changes and commit to a training schedule that lasts all year long. Adopt a ‘buddy system’ and partner new hires with seasoned pros who can mentor them as they learn about the store and the products you sell.

Create a ‘never out’ list

Every retailer should have a ‘never out’ list of the things you need to have in stock 100 per cent of the time. During peak times of the year, this list takes on an even bigger significance when being out of one of these items can literally make or break a sale.

Your POS system will likely create this list for you, but make sure to do frequent physical counts on the sales floor to make sure your list is correct.

Sell, sell, sell gift cards

Gift cards are your secret weapon – and that’s gift cards, not gift certificates. There’s a reason for that: a recent study found that retailers who switch from paper gift certificates to plastic gift cards increased gift card sales from 35 per cent to 50 per cent.

It also found that 55 per cent of gift card recipients required more than one shopping trip to spend the balance of their card – which is good news for retailers!

More time spent browsing means more chances to make another sale and turn a repeat customer into a loyal brand advocate.

Remember, a gift card that’s presented in a boring paper sleeve or envelope doesn’t look like much, even if it’s for big bucks. So, package your gift cards with a look that’s unique to what you sell and offer your gift cards electronically too for contactless sales.

Ensure your returns policy is competitive

If every one of your competitors accepts returns and exchanges but your policy screams ‘No!’, customers will go somewhere else to shop. Note that during the pandemic, many retailers have lengthened return and exchange windows.

A good returns policy is even more important when it comes to shopping online.

You’ll save more sales if you train all your staff to politely suggest an exchange or a gift card before offering a refund. Make sure your policy is up to date with all relevant legislation too.

Be prepared for markdowns

If you have product that has been sitting dormant on your shelves while your store was closed, a clearance strategy is important. Packing them away for sale next year is almost never a good idea and trying to sell past-season product at full price isn’t a good look.

Determine which piece will be discounted; how much it will be discounted by, how it will be ticketed – numbers work better than percentages – and where it will be displayed on the sales floor.

Unless you are having a big sale, display clearance stock near the back of the store so shoppers have to pass through new displays to get to it.

You’re exhausted just reading this, right? Being a retailer has always meant long hours and putting out fires. Add in selling through your website and social media, plus keeping up with COVID-19 mandates, and you have a lot of new hats to wear.

The only thing that makes it easier? Having a game plan.



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Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender

Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender are retail strategists, authors and consultants. Learn more: kizerandbender.com


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