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How to Increase Retail Sales: Top 25 Expert Tips

October 25, 2023

25 minread

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows only 25% of new businesses make it to 15 years or more. Other than unforeseeable market fluctuations, the main reason is poor management, including a lack of effective marketing strategies and subpar customer service.

Even if your business isn’t new, navigating trends and unlocking opportunities to stay profitable will always be challenging for a business owner. Fortunately, as retail consulting experts, we know there are effective strategies to maximize your sales and grow.

In this blog, we share results-driven retail sales tips and tactics on how to increase retail sales.

1. Find Your Store’s Peak Hours

According to the 50/20 rule, half of a retail store’s total sales occur during its 20 busiest hours of the week. So, if you’re brainstorming how to increase sales in your retail store, the first step is to optimize peak hours.

Whether you have a brick-and-mortar or eCommerce store, historical sales data will show you which days and times are busiest. Knowing your peak hours informs staffing, inventory, and marketing decisions.

For example, you may double down on sales during peak hours or run specific promotions at quieter times to improve overall revenue. These choices rest on your current financial standing and business goals.

2. Provide Effective Sales Training

Provide Effective Sales Training

Ideally, the most experienced sales associates with the highest sales closure rate should work during peak hours. Their detailed knowledge of your business and its products makes it easier to offer relevant product recommendations on the sales floor.

Upselling and cross-selling techniques should also be part of your sales associates’ repertoire to increase a customer’s average order value.

  • Upselling encourages customers to buy more expensive versions of the products or services they are already considering.
  • Cross-selling influences them to buy additional products or services related to the ones they are considering. Both are highly effective in increasing revenue.

Research by online marketing software company HubSpot found that 72% of salespeople who upsell and 74% who cross-sell say it drives 30% of their revenue.

3. Make Loyalty a Key Part of Your Retail Sales Strategy

It costs four to five times more to acquire new customers than retain existing ones. Customers buy from brands they trust. The downside is cultivating loyalty takes time.

So, if you don’t have a loyalty program, now’s the time to implement one.

Then you can use these tactics to get the most out of your customer base:

  • Provide existing customers with rewards so they purchase more.
  • Entice first-time customers to return by promising rewards. They often need an extra nudge to come back.
  • Offer bonus items or discounts when customers sign up for store memberships.

Marketing messages via email or SMS about upcoming promotions, birthday rewards, and personalized incentives go a long way in creating loyal customers.

4. Launch Attention-Grabbing Promotions

4. Launch Attention-Grabbing Promotions

The best in-store promotions are time-sensitive and align with point-of-sale marketing.

Some examples of how to improve sales in retail with promotions include:

  • In-store promotions: Increase foot traffic and sales by offering exclusive discounts on minimum purchase amounts, in-store activations, and product sampling.
  • Free samples or gifts with purchase: Provide a tangible incentive for customers to spend more. Examples include a free toy with a clothing purchase, a beauty bag with the purchase of a cosmetic, and socks with a sports apparel purchase.
  • Point-of-sale displays: Emphasize certain sales opportunities to draw attention to specific products, such as buy one get one free.

5. Ensure That Your Store Shows up in Online Search Results

Did you know 93% of consumers use online searches to find local businesses? If a potential customer searches online, will your retail business turn up?

To ensure that customers find your business whenever they search for relevant products and stores online:

  • Create business listings on platforms like Google, Yelp, and Facebook.
  • When creating your profile, add the name, address, and phone number on your site and other listings.
  • Include accurate business hours, reviews, and photos.
  • Display reviews, as customers are likelier to choose stores with more positive feedback.

Doing so will make your business look attractive and draw attention to its location and website.

6. Get a Google My Business Profile

Have you ever searched online for a service or store, and it comes up on Google Maps? That’s because that business has a free Google My Business profile.

A Google My Business Profile lets you stay up-to-date on ratings and reviews, track analytics, and engage with customers. It also makes your store appear more prominently in local search results and Google Maps.

Because most potential customers use mobile devices and search for local businesses online, it is more important than ever for your business to have a presence on Google My Business. Put it this way: If a potential customer searches online and your store doesn’t show up, they won’t know it exists.

7. Make Customers Feel Safe in Your Store

7. Make Customers Feel Safe in Your Store

Follow these tips to create a safe and welcoming environment for your customers:

  • Have a visible security presence: Security guards, cameras, or even a well-lit store make your customers feel safer.
  • Be friendly and approachable: Employees should be welcoming and friendly to customers.
  • Have a clear policy on customer safety: Include information on what to do if a customer feels unsafe.Train your employees on customer safety:
  • Employees should know how to identify and respond to threats.
  • Take customer feedback seriously: If a customer complains about their safety, take it seriously and investigate the matter.

8. Promote Corporate Social Responsibility

Today’s consumers shop at stores associated with a good cause, which is why businesses must invest in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

To engage CSR in your business, there are several actions you can take, such as:

  • Donating a portion of your sales to charity.
  • Being ethical with sourcing or manufacturing products.
  • Supporting community initiatives.
  • Investing in your workforce.
  • Creating or participating in events that are associated with a good cause.

Investing in corporate social responsibility signals you are conscious of and committed to a larger purpose, which creates a virtuous circle of positive effects at both a business and social level.

9. Have Strong In-Store Signage

Customers are bombarded with visual stimuli when they walk into a store. Use strong in-storage signage to cut through the noise and capture attention. Ideally, you want to guide customers through your space, direct them to the products they’re looking for, and highlight new products they are yet to discover.

Strategic places to have signage include high-traffic areas such as cash registers, dressing rooms, and the center of your store. Once you’ve created your signage, test it and ask for staff and customer feedback.

10. Be Smart About Your Sales Targets

Consider multiple factors when creating a sales forecast tailored to your business, such as recurring revenue, contracts, expenses, product life cycles, and industry dynamics. You should also monitor the performance of each sales rep compared to the previous year and utilize data from account segmentation and scoring.

Consulting with your sales reps will provide valuable insight and facilitate more achievable and realistic targets. Lastly, implementing a rolling forecast rather than a traditional annual or quarterly schedule can create greater forward visibility and identify any potential risks or opportunities.

If you need help setting realistic targets or are unsure what the general benchmark is, our sales strategy consultants can help. Schedule a consultation today!

11. Tell an Authentic Story that Resonates

Tell an Authentic Story that Resonates

Customers love authentic brand stories because they foster a meaningful connection to businesses. Your brand story helps them better understand and relate to your products and services and perhaps appreciate them even more.

As part of your retail marketing strategy, you must craft an authentic brand story. Focus on creating a narrative that conveys the unique values behind your business and is relatable to your target audience.

Highlight the “why” of your product or service, its unique features, and how it meets your customer’s needs. The point is to create a genuine emotional connection between your customers and your brand

12. Ensure Your Products Are On-Point

Having the right product assortment is critical to winning more sales. To keep your store’s assortment fresh and profitable:

  1. Stay on top of your inventory data.
  2. Track advanced metrics like gross margin return on investment (GMROI), sell-through, and inventory turnover to gain insight into product performance.
  3. Forecast your demand using historical data and current trends.

Always be sure to have enough liquid capital to order products promptly. Hot-foot it with suppliers and set up stock level alerts to ensure you’re never out of stock. With these tactics, you can be sure your store’s product assortment will help you win more sales.

13. Automate Your Retail Sales

Generating retail sales can be a real challenge, so don’t make it even more difficult on yourself by trying to do everything alone. Automation is critical in helping keep sales up without you being constantly involved.

Utilizing a marketing automation platform can make this process so much easier. It takes your customer database and segments it to pinpoint those who have not purchased anything recently. From there, you can craft re-engagement email campaigns to draw their attention to your merchandise.

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14. Let Customers Try Before They Buy

While only appropriate for some types of business, try-before-you-buy gives customers firsthand experience with your product and the opportunity to discover if it fits their needs and expectations before making a purchase.

This lets customers assess your service, pricing, quality, and other aspects of your product, helping them to make a more informed purchasing decision.

When customers can try a product first, they’re more likely to make a purchase and be more satisfied because they know what they’re getting. Plus, it’s a great way to build trust and improve customer experience.

15. Offer Different Payment Methods

Offer various payment options that make it easy for your customers to pay.

Some ideas include:

  • Mobile wallets: A contactless payment that allows customers to pay with their smartphones.
  • Credit cards: Still the most popular payment method in the U.S., credit cards offer a variety of benefits, such as rewards and purchase protection.
  • Debit cards: Similar to credit cards, they deduct the purchase amount directly from the customer’s bank account.
  • Gift cards: A convenient way for customers
  • to purchase goods and services. They can be purchased in-store or online and can be used at a variety of retailers.
  • Buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS): BOPIS is a service that allows customers to order items online and pick them up in-store.

16. Create an Engaging Environment

16. Create an Engaging Environment

Other ideas to increase sales in retail stores include creating a comfortable and inviting environment that can encourage customers to linger and spend more money.

Here’s how to create a positive atmosphere in your shop:

  • Use dim and warm-colored lighting.
  • Play soft music in the background.
  • Use decorative elements that are pleasing to the eye.
  • Choose a signature scent for your shop. Studies show that customers spend 11% more in a store that smells good. Choose a scent that is appropriate for your target market. For example, a flowery scent might be more appealing to women, while a woodsy scent might be more appealing to men.

17. Have a Simple Loyalty Program

Points reward programs are the most basic and popular loyalty initiatives, and they can be very effective. The concept is simple: the more customers spend, the more points they earn. Starbucks, BestBuy, and Sephora all use them!

Every time a customer interacts with your brand (for example, by making a purchase online or in-store), they earn a fixed number of loyalty points associated with that action. This encourages them to accumulate points until they have enough to redeem for rewards, including discounts, free gifts, special offers, and more.

This retail loyalty program works best in businesses with high levels of overall purchase activity. It thrives in an environment where customers can quickly accumulate a significant number of loyalty points in a short period.

18. Speed Up the Buying Process

Mobile POS systems reduce wait times and improve the shopping experience by allowing sales staff to process payments and complete transactions anywhere in the store. Sales staff can use mobile POS systems to answer customer questions, make recommendations, and process returns. This creates a more personalized and convenient shopping experience for customers.

Sale optimization consulting experts also encourage retail stores to use Mobile POS systems as they support curbside pickup. This allows customers to order online and pick up their purchases without entering the store. A curbside pickup is a popular option for busy and decisive customers who already know what they want. And it improves online sales.

19. Offer Customers Personalized Service In-Store

19. Offer Customers Personalized Service In-Store

Customers appreciate personalization. Creating an experience where each customer feels like a familiar face upon entering the store, regardless of the staff on duty, will solidify the notion that your business offers them something special. Leveraging technology can give your sales associates a notable advantage, particularly your retail point of sale system.

For instance, software is available for iPad POS systems that provides sales associates with access to a database of customer profiles right at their fingertips. When a customer visits the store, a sales associate can access their profile and offer recommendations based on past purchases, even if they’ve never interacted. This capability allows for consistent, personalized service on every occasion.

20. Understand Customer Movement

Understanding how customers navigate your store is crucial. If your business is new, observe the paths customers naturally take within your space and make necessary adjustments.

While the arrangement of products might seem logical to you, the actual effectiveness of the layout becomes evident when you observe customers moving around and engaging with your inventory. If they struggle to find what they’re looking for, they won’t buy anything.

Furthermore, you should solicit practical feedback from customers regarding your shop’s layout and display methods. Direct feedback helps create a soothing and welcoming environment that encourages them to linger and purchase more goods.

21. Offer Complimentary and Paid Services

Complementary services have the potential to not only attract visitors to your store but also stimulate additional purchases. In-store services clinching deals during peak hours by converting browsers into buyers through added value and bolstering sales during off-peak hours.

Suppose you’ve analyzed the data and identified a trend of peak hours occurring during weekday afternoons. If you’re wondering how to boost retail sales on Sundays and evenings, you could actively promote appointment-based shopping.

For instance, a pet store might schedule a groomer’s presence during off-peak hours, while an apparel store could offer personalized shopping and styling services. These appointments and services would draw customers during quieter times, offering them value beyond the products you offer for sale.

Supercharge your revenue with our sales operations consulting services.

Supercharge your revenue with our sales operations consulting services.

Optimize Sales Processes

22. Use Product Returns to Your Advantage

The key to converting product returns into sales is providing a smooth and pleasant returns experience for the customer. This means making the process as simple as possible and offering services like free returns with select carriers, extended periods for returns, giving customers store credit instead of refunds, and offering personalized customer service.

You can also encourage customers to buy again by offering discounts on their next purchase. Going the extra mile by following up with customers, expressing appreciation for their purchases, and supplying them with helpful product knowledge and tips is a great way to increase the probability of repeat purchases.

23. Optimize Your Counter Area

Customers make impulse purchases when waiting in line. That’s why supermarket counters are stocked with candies and items you wouldn’t usually seek. A great impulse buy could be a practical yet small item like scented candles in a beauty store, a phone case in an electronics store, or energy bars in a health food store.

If you keep the price low and the packaging eye-catching, customers will pick them up in passing. Although only a small percentage of additional sales, these items can significantly increase your profits. Even a modest 5% revenue boost is still a revenue increase. If done right, impulse buys can significantly amplify your overall revenue.

24. Host an Event

Events are a great way to get customers through your doors. To make them more enticing, offer giveaways or other freebies.

Here are some specific examples of events you could host:

  • Special sales: Offer discounts on your products or services.
  • Studio workshops: Allow customers to learn or improve new skills.
  • Contests and giveaways: Prizes could include free products, gift certificates, or trips.
  • Live entertainment: Bring in musicians, comedians, or other performers to entertain your guests.
  • Networking events: Let customers connect with other people who share their interests.

Remember to take photos during the event so you can share a recap afterward and build excitement for your next one.

25. Transform Your Store into a Destination

25. Transform Your Store into a Destination

In the current landscape of abundant online shopping choices, brick-and-mortar stores must devise inventive methods to entice customers. While maintaining excellent products and top-tier customer service remains crucial, you must elevate your store beyond mere purchasing destinations to boost foot traffic and drive sales.

In-store shopping is only partly about the products. For example, boutiques offer personalized shopping or tailoring services. Fitness stores host classes and large legacy companies like Lego let customers (especially kids) interact with their products. You could provide classes, set up testing stations, or add hangout places in-store like Apple.

Conclusion: Increasing Sales in Retail

The above tactics empower you to influence customer behavior. There are endless opportunities for increasing sales in retail, so your customers choose your store as a preferred shopping destination. Understanding the importance of customer service, merchandising techniques, and marketing strategies is the tip of the iceberg.

If you wish to learn other ways to increase retail sales or further optimize these strategies, hiring specialized sales strategy consultants may be beneficial. Cultivate Advisors has helped many retail stores improve top and bottom-line growth by pinpointing blindspots and refining existing sales processes.

Call us today to schedule a consultation.

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