This article is re-posted on the OneCoast Blog with permissions from the author(s).
Before the pandemic, when things were “normal”, customers shopped in strange patterns and their choices were not divided equally among retailers. That hasn’t changed, so if you want to attract more customers to your store you need to do more. Start here:
- Plan Events & 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. A Re Open Open Houseis a good idea, so is a Grand Reopening. Think about the upcoming holidays and plan for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Holiday 2021. If you are selling online or via social medias you will need to do something for Cyber Monday as well. Keep going and add events for each month of 2021.
Plan each event, buy product for each event as needed, and get your team involved. Remember, in-store events do not always automatically equate to running a sale, although that’s an option. You can do makit & takits, demos, seminars, trunk shows, pop-ups, vendor days – your options are endless.
- ReTrain Your Team.You can’t do everything by yourself; you need a team of strong associates backing you up.
Be specific about what you need and be upfront about what is required to do the job. Sanitizing the store and reinforcing mask mandates may be with us for a while and your team needs to know what is expected of them.
This isn’t a time to hold back, it’s time to sell. Hold training sessions about product and how to deliver exemplary customer service when you can’t always see the customers face. Update your team frequently on what’s happening in the store, and commit to a training schedule that lasts all year long. Adopt our Buddy System and partner new hires with seasoned pros that 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 one hundred percent 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. Notice we said gift CARDS. That’s because a recent study found that retailers who switch from paper gift certificates to plastic gift cards increase gift card sales from 35 percent to 50 percent.
There’s more: 55 percent of gift card recipients require more than one shopping trip to the store to spend the balance of their card – that’s good news for you. But beware, a gift card or certificate 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 since many shoppers want a contactless transaction these days, offer your gift cards electronically as well.
- Make Sure Your Return Policy is Competitive.If every one of your competitors accepts returns and exchanges but your policy screams NO! NO! NO! customers will go someplace else to shop. If you don’t have a return policy here’s a good place to start: “Returns and exchanges gladly accepted within ______ days. Your receipt guarantees it.” You’ll save more sales if you train all your associates to politely suggest an exchange or a gift card before offering a refund. Note that during the pandemic many retailers have opted to lengthened return and exchange windows.
- Be Prepared for Markdowns.You have product that was sitting dormant on your shelves for the 60+ days your store was closed, and probably for months before that so a clearance strategy for those goods is important. Packing product away for sale next year is almost never a good idea, and trying to sell past season merchandise at full price isn’t a good look. Or strategy.
A markdown plan for every piece of merchandise that you purchase is a smart idea. You will need to determine which merchandise will be discounted, how much it will be discounted, how it will be signed (numbers work better than percentages), and where it will be displayed on the sales floor. Unless you are having a big sale, display clearance merchandise near the back of the store so shoppers have to pass through new product displays to get to it.
You’re exhausted just reading this, right? Being a retailer has always meant long hours, juggling tasks, and putting out fires. Add in selling online, selling via social media, keeping up with what’s happening with the pandemic, and you have a lot of new hats to wear. Trust us, having a game plan makes it easier. If you’re stuck or have questions, give us a call. We’re here to help!
Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender are consumer anthropologists, speakers, authors and consultants whose client list reads like a “Who’s Who” in business. Companies internationally depend upon them for timely advice on consumers and the changing retail market place.
Kizer & Bender
KIZER & BENDER are contributors to MSNBC’s television program Your Business. They made Meetings & Conventions Magazine’s list of Meeting Planners Favorite Keynote Speakers, have been named two of Retailing’s Most Influential People, are included in the Top 40 Omnichannel Retail Influencers, and the Top 50 Retail Influencers four years running. Their award-winning Retail Adventures blog was named the Top Retail Blog by PR Newswire Media, and is included in the Top 25 Websites for Retailers, Top 50 Retail Blogs, and the 7 Best Retail Publications just to name a few. KIZER & BENDER are partners and emcees for the popular Independent Retailer Conference recently served as official correspondents for the National Retail Federation’s 2017 Shop.org Digital Retail Conference.
Rich and Georganne are experts on generational diversity, consumer trends, marketing and promotion, and everything retail. As consumer anthropologists they stalk and study that most elusive of mammals: today’s consumer. Any speaker can talk about consumers, but Georganne and Rich actually become them. In addition to focus groups, one-on-one interviews and intensive on-site studies their research includes posing as every kind of customer you can imagine. The result of their research is literally straight from the mouth of the consumer: solid ground level intelligence you can use to better serve your own customers.
KIZER & BENDER’s observations are widely featured in the medias, including the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, Las Vegas Review Journal, NBC, CBS, ABC, WGN, MSNBC, National Public Radio (NPR), The Voice of America, AARP, Deseret News, The Washington Post, and the National Retail Federation. Their books “Visual Merchandising & Store Design: How to Set Your Sales Floor to Sell”, “BRANDING!”, and “Jingle Bells, Christmas Sells: Events, Promotions & Tips for the Holiday Season!” have helped thousands of retailers improve their bottom line. Their magazine column, Georganne & Rich on the Road, is a two-time winner of the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) Award of Excellence.
KIZER & BENDER are married, just not to each other! 2021 marks their 31st anniversary as a speaking team. Their presentations blend brilliant content with colorful examples, humor, and insight. You’ll learn while you laugh! And you’ll come away with inspiration, ideas, strategies, tactics, tips and techniques you can use the second you return to your business!