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Getting Customers into your Retail Establishment and persuading them to make Purchases
The biggest dilemma that the retail business owner faces is the problem of getting clients into the retail establishment. Traffic is the thing will either make or break your business. Massive amounts of traffic will keep your doors open even when your product line is weak.
Somebody will purchase something from your establishment no matter what you are offering. You find more of those somebodies with more foot traffic.
We are going to talk here about how to get more visitors to shop in your retail establishment, and different ways to coax them into making purchases once they have entered. I guarantee that if you apply these principles in your small business you will achieve results.
How do I Know?
I have been an entrepreneur for many years and during that time I have owned at least four different retail establishments. In addition I have worked many different venues as a vendor. I began in the most difficult sales market imaginable with all of the wrong ideas.
My very first venture was in a flea market. I bought new merchandise wholesale and priced it very reasonably. I set up shop feeling that I was ready to conquer the world. I sat there for days and didn’t sell a single thing.
My marketing strategy was way off for several reasons. First of all I didn’t do any testing or evaluation prior to making my debut. The crowd that visited the flea market were not looking for new merchandise. They were shopping for deals. They were used to bargaining and expected me to negotiate. The starting price did not really matter because they were going to negotiate regardless. I priced myself out of the market by starting off with my absolute best. I had no room to barter and when I refused I lost sales.
Most of the vendors there were not actually looking to make a large profit. They were simply interested in getting rid of extra stuff. They were willing to bargain because they weren’t going to take it back home, and as long as they got something for it profit didn’t matter. I didn’t fit into this scenario.
Draw Attention to your Establishment
People can’t purchase from you if they never enter your establishment, and they will never enter your establishment if they never see it.
I operated gift shops. A gift Shop can be a very finicky operation if you don’t do it right. First of all gifts will sell at certain times of the year but people don’t need gifts to survive, so a gift purchase is often the last priority when it comes to spending money.
The best thing that you can do for your gift shop is to place it in a highly trafficked area. Gifts are impulse items. They are seldom sought after by the buyer. Other items such as hardware, toiletries, and groceries will always sell because people need them to survive. Every household must have funds in its budget to purchase these necessary items.
Most times your establishment will not be located in a stand-alone location so you will have to compete with the sights, sounds, smells, and appeals being made to your customers by all of the other establishments around you.
You may have to get downright radical in order to draw attention so learn how to think outside of the box.
Appeal to the Physical Senses
You have to appeal to one or more of your customers’ physical senses so overwhelmingly that they will have to come in to investigate. Drawing their attention to your establishment is one thing, but drawing them inside is another.
1) Sight: Appeal to their sense of sight by using colorful signage on the outside and inside of your establishment. Odd or unique items placed outside of your place of business will also serve to draw their attention. Outside displays of some of your best merchandise will help also.
2) Sound. Music or hawkers will also draw the attention of passersby’s’ and need to appeal to the exact clientele that you are attempting to draw. If you want to draw young urban folks you may use music that is popular to them. Remember it is the promise of a reward inside of your store which draws them in.
3) Smell: This works well for food establishments but you may use it also. The sweet savor of free food samples will draw many souls into your place. Make sure that you have tables there because people seem to associate eating and sitting. If you don’t many of them will take the samples and leave. Many business use scented air fresheners to attract customers.
4) Taste: The taste of good food or beverages will cause them to linger. This is a place where aggressive salesmanship will come into play. Don’t allow them to leave without at least knowing what you can do for them.
5) Touch: One thing that increases sales is that customers can actually touch samples of the product that they are considering buying. Allow them to feel it in their hands and experiment with the way that they intend to use it.
Get them inside
I once saw a businessman use a famous heavyweight boxer to get people inside his shoe store. It worked very well but it didn’t help his sales much because people were not coming in to get autographs not buy shoes. The moral of this story is that one thing will not automatically lead to another.
After you get their attention you have to get them inside. Once you get them inside you have to get them interested in what you have to offer. Once they are interested you need to get them to make a purchase. They will only purchase products which will give some type of positive return for their money. You as a salesman have to show your customer how the article in question will benefit them more than the money that they have in their pocket.
The inside of your establishment must be sexy in the sense that it needs to engage and entice your customer. It must be neat, beautiful, and well organized (shapely). Anything less paints a negative picture for the potential buyer. You must woo them with your sexy body (establishment).
Establish and maintain a theme for your customers. I tried to carry a wide variety of merchandise at one time but found that it really didn’t work. Too much variety confuses the customer about what your establishment is about.
Establish a theme built on a certain niche, (gifts for example) and expand on that theme with a wide variety of gifts for all occasions. If you do this it may cause many of your browsers today to become buyers tomorrow. The Valentine’s Day browser will certainly remember you on Mother’s Day.
The organization of your establishment should lead your customers to the place where you want them to go. Your most popular items should be the easiest to reach. Don’t place them too high or too low on the shelves. Remember that eye level is the best place for your best items and nothing but extra stock should be out of reach.
Make it aesthetic and convenient. Remember you are catering to impulse shoppers. If an item is too hard to find or reach the buyer may give up and move on.
Use adequate lighting and quality displays. One trick that I used was to use extra lights to highlight my best or more popular merchandise. Glass display shelves are more appealing than regular metal shelves.
I learned that you have to ride market trends in much the same manner as a surfer rides a wave. Keep your eyes on new products. Observe potential customers to see which items that they are purchasing as gifts and for personal use, be attentive to customer requests. One lesson that I learned was not to attempt to fill every customer’s whims, but to tally the number of people who asked for a particular item or product. If people constantly asked for an item I knew to obtain a few for my inventory. I would feature them and monitor their sale. If they proved to be rapid selling items I would order larger quantities. You don’t want to run out of a popular item because customers will find it elsewhere.
You have to keep a close eye on the trendy items in your shop. When sales begin to slow down decrease your quantity ordered. When sales begin to stall place them on special and make room for the next product.
Sometimes you will have several articles trending high at the same time, and other times you will have one particular item accounting for thirty or more percent of your sales.
You need to price your merchandise according to what the market will bear. My personal technique was to price a new item just a little higher than normal. I would watch my customers’ reaction to the price and adjust it down. Once customers began to purchase at my stated price I would leave it there.
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