As we fast approach the busiest retail season of the year, now is the time to plan for boosting sales in your store. And that means being able to show the value of a product over the price.
It’s not about just putting up a ‘discount’ sign and hoping for the best. Discounting on its own is never a good strategy for long-term success. So what else can you do? Here are some of the best approaches for you to consider.
1. Upselling and cross-merchandising
One of the most famous retail phrases, ‘would you like to upsize your order?’ is an example of upselling, in which you try to get the customer to buy a slightly more expensive product than the one they were originally going to buy. This can be effective because sometimes your customers don’t know that a more premium product is available until you mention it, or they simply need to be told about what makes a certain product more valuable, and potentially a better option.
Nobody does this better than Amazon. Not only do they upsell, but they also cross-merchandise, which is when you suggest that your customer buys another product that complements what they’re already going to buy. For example, if you choose a product on Amazon, their site will automatically suggest other items to you that are frequently bought together.
Just make sure upsells are related to the original product so that the suggestion makes sense, and be sensitive to the fact that your customers may be restricted to a certain price range. If you’re serious about upselling and cross-selling in your store, make sure your employees are trained to carry out these sales techniques properly. Teach your staff to look out for the customer’s best interests and have them upsell only if the product is a good fit – this will help build trust and loyalty to have those customers come back time and again.
2. Flash sales
The chance to save money — but only if you act fast — is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but also one of the most effective. After all, if a killer deal is only offered ‘for a limited time,’ customers can feel panicked that they’re going to miss out on the sale.
A flash sale can benefit a retail business in a few different ways. It gets people talking and attracts new leads thanks to the hype. It also shortens the sales cycle, which urges people to buy when they would have otherwise procrastinated. As a result, a flash sale can turn a slow time of year into a profitable stretch.
But there’s also the chance you only attract bargain hunters who have no intention of becoming long-term, full-price paying customers. If you’re going to run a flash sale make sure you have a good reason why (move excess inventory), consider only running it on a certain brand or section of your store, and make sure your website can handle the traffic.
Whenever Apple announces a new product, people camp outside the stores for days because they know that there will be limited quantities and they want an exclusive ‘first-touch’ of the product. If you don’t have a product in your store that can do this as well as the iPhone, it’s time to create one. For example, a boutique shop might strike a deal to be the exclusive retail provider of a certain designer’s products. Exclusivity means you don’t have to worry about being undersold by nearby competitors carrying the same products, so you can set profitable prices.
When it comes to your marketing efforts, there are simple tools you can use to foster an air of exclusivity. Having individuals sign up for an upcoming offer or event ahead of time builds up the hype surrounding your product. The bonus is this also helps you build a customer database that you can use in the future. Setting deadlines for registering for an event or redeeming a promotion creates a sense of urgency. And limiting your promotions to a set number of people also creates a sense of urgency and attractiveness, making your customers feel as if they can be one of the few lucky recipients. Making people meet a certain set of criteria like an exclusive sale for store VIPs, promotes the feeling that since not everyone can have it, it must be more valuable.
4. Lifestyle promotion
Sometimes it’s not about marketing a product, as much as it is marketing a lifestyle — that requires your products. Athleisure is a great example of taking exercise apparel and making it a fashion statement. Customers don’t just pay a premium for the clothes, they want to be seen in accompanying products like bags, socks and caps. Growing your digital presence and partnering with key influencers that embody your brand and lifestyle message are a way of engaging with a wider audience. And if you’re planning on building a following on social, it’s also a great idea to invest in technology that enables to you to sell direct through platforms like Instagram. For example, having an in-store platform like Vend that integrates with WooCommerce for online and social, makes it easy for smaller retailers to compete with the big brands and blend social selling across all of their other sales channels. Making sure you reach your customer where they want to buy, will be key to success this peak season.
No matter which strategy you decide to implement this Christmas and holiday sales period, make sure that you measure and track the results. Your marketing campaigns are only effective if your business improves on its bottom line. Set measurable and specific objectives and set up the right tools to track your progress. If something doesn’t work, remember you can always learn from the experience and modify your approach next year.
By Francesca Nicasio, retail expert, Vend