Sell More Before Customers Leave the Store
"I'm just looking," is a common refrain retailers hear. How can you turn browsers into buyers, and buyers into customers who purchase even more products? Even though the term "shopper marketing" is used to describe activities that drive customer sales and consumption, all the way from advertising and marketing to store layout, design, and point-of-purchase activities, most business owners assume shopper marketing is limited to in-store marketing efforts: in effect, what happens when a customer is in your store. Shopper marketing encompasses a lot more. Let's focus on in-store activities that can improve overall sales and total sales per customer.
It takes time to sell. Make sure customers give you that time:
- Set the tone. Walk inside your store. What do you see first? What is your impression? Is the entry area well-lit, clean, and inviting?
- Create intervention zones. Once a customer is inside, strategically place small displays that attract attention. Customers are more likely to buy if they pick up and handle a product, (make it easy). At the same time you'll slow down otherwise busy shoppers, inviting them to take more time browsing.
- Make sure end caps feature key items. Ends of aisles should contain promotional items or special items. End caps get lots of attention; make sure key items are displayed and make sure those items set the tone for the rest of the store.
- Provide carts or baskets. Numerous studies indicate customers will spend ten to fifteen minutes longer in a store and up to 25% more in total purchases when they have a cart or basket. Don't place all your carts at the entrance to the store; create other cart storage areas so customers can grab a cart as they shop.
Overall Store Operations
Focus on the rest of your store (and the customer's experience):
- Be available. Your store hours should be convenient for customers, not for you. Most retail customers want to shop in the evening or on weekends; match the hours your customers need. After all, you cannot make a sale if your doors are closed.
- Create complementary displays. Don't make it hard for customers to find the items they need. Don't think "departments," think "customer needs." Place scarves and hats near coats. Place hammers and screwdrivers near nails and screws. Think about the other items a customer might need, and make them easy to find. Satisfy a customer's desire for "just-in-case" by having those items handy.
- Intervene at key points. Some items can be sold without assistance; others benefit from salesperson intervention. For example, if you run a shoe store, customers will not require help choosing shoe strings but will definitely need your help trying on shoes. Here is a less obvious example: A customer may require help choosing a high-end digital camera, but many will also require help determining which type of memory card to purchase for a camera they already own. Think about where your customers will most need help and where you have the greatest likelihood of creating up-sell or additional sales possibilities and intervene.
- Develop incremental pricing schemes. Once a customer is in the store, the cost of acquiring that customer goes down. If you can sell additional items or products to that customer even at a reduced price, you may still be able to maintain healthy profit margins. Don't always look at add-on sales as opportunities to charge premium prices; selling add-on items for lower margins can increase overall revenue while building additional customer loyalty.
- Make it easy. Consumers are accustomed to having information at their fingertips. Make sure product information is easy to access. Don't assume a customer has done all their research ahead of time. A customer who hesitates and decides to go home to look up product reviews on the Internet may never return. Be transparent: provide information. Sales will go up and so will consumer trust.
Lastly, focus on point of purchase opportunities. Don't use the checkout area as a "bargain sale" or "discontinued item" display area. Stock impulse items and items customers frequently forget at the checkout area. (That's why many department stores stock batteries near the checkout counter. Who always remembers they need batteries?) Your checkout area is a customer's final impression of the store; make sure it's a good impression so they will want to return. Seeing a table full of damaged or discontinued items leaves a poor impression. Instead, feature items that make shopping easier and more convenient while enhancing the image of your store.