While we all like to think that we’re savvy shoppers who are immune to the effects of marketing, it’s often the case that sales techniques – even of the most transparent variety – are proven to work.
Most of these tips are incredibly easy to implement and come at little to no extra cost to your business. In fact, many of them have been in use for years by the big chain stores – so why should your independent retail business not also reap the benefits?
July has been an incredible month for small retailers all over the country thanks to the official declaration of Independent Retailer Month (a UK-based annual campaign led by ‘The Retail Champion, Claire Rayner).
In honour of the event, check out this collection of the best tips for maximising profits for your independent retail company.
1. Provide shopping carts
Making your customers carry their own shopping means that they are likely to spend 8% less in your store.
And aside from the spend difference, having baskets or carts means that your customer’s life is easier and therefore spending time in your store is a more pleasant experience all round. Win win.
2. Add a threshold incentive
If you’re in the online shopping biz, you may find that offering free shipping once a customer has spent a certain amount will entice customers to spend more time browsing.
Research was conducted into how far shoppers are willing to go for free shipping – and a whopping 58% of people added something extra to their basket to qualify for free P&P.
Don’t be put off if you’re not online, though – if you sell large items, or can offer delivery at peak times when people may be grateful (for example, Christmas), this threshold tactic may be more successful than you’d think.Retail fact: 58% of retail customers will add something extra to their basket to get free P&P - add an incentive! Click To Tweet
3. Give the customer a break
If you have a large store, or stock produce that customers are likely to spend a generous amount of time browsing (think clothes that need trying on, for example), then give weary feet a place to rest.
Some basic seating to alleviate a partner or a place to rest down bags means less discomfort for the customer. It also gives you another great place to display stock that may not be selling as well – a top tip from a former Ikea employee.
4. Improve your location
This tip is obviously aimed at SME owners in the process of choosing their first location, or adding an additional location to their portfolio. Spending slightly more on a great location now will inevitably be cheaper in the long run – the other option is plumping for low rent and then having to shell out for marketing to persuade the unaware public to visit.
Shops that are out in the sticks will need to try much harder to entice customers in (there’s a reason why many garden centres have cafes). Why make life harder for your customers and yourself?
5. Offer something that’s free (for both of you)
In this guide to starting a retail business, the owner of an independent butchers notes that many of their customers come in for personal advice about their produce; something they can’t get at the supermarket.
Make sure all of your employees are well-versed in your products or service so that customers feel at ease and well informed. The rapport this creates also adds another tick for exemplary customer service. Remember, good manners don’t cost anything.
6. Work the “compromise price effect”
It sounds complicated – in basic English, the compromise price effect means putting a similar but more expensive item next to the piece you’re hoping will fly off the shelves.
The psychology here is that people will see the more luxurious item and pick the lower-priced version, justifying the purchase as a good deal in comparison. Had this item been standing alone, it may have been written off as too expensive with no comparison to make people reconsider.Retail tip: Cheap items at the front of store help break down the psychological buying barrier. Click To Tweet
7. Break the buying barrier
In another simple case of rearranging your stock, you should be placing cheap items at the opening of your store, according to retail consultant, Jeff Green.
These will act as “open the wallet” items: low commitment purchases that pull down the psychological spending barrier and open customers up to making further purchases within your shop.
You’ll now notice these wherever you go – seemingly random promotions of low cost items in high-visibility locations in shops. Crafty stuff.
8. Use the classic 99p trick
We all know what’s going on when a price sticker ends with ‘.99’ – no-one’s getting fooled here. So does it really work?
In short, yes. The psychology on this one is so strong that even though we know what’s happening, we still play along – thanks to our brains preferring to think of numbers in categories, rather than the logical assessment of their worth.
Read this explanation from the BBC, including a case study in which a pizza priced at €7.99 sold 15% more than the identical €8 version.
9. Raise your prices
Stop worrying about being an aggressive business owner and start thinking smart to protect yourself for the future.
This handy 5 step process details the best way you should go about raising your prices and how to decide how much to raise them by. Hint: if you can fairly explain to your employees why your prices are being raised, you’re in a much better situation to explain to any curious customers.