If you sell just about anything in a retail environment, and whether online or on land, the thought of growing your sales and revenue streams is bound to dominate. The tips in this feature have been written with those that have suffered a slump in mind – business, shops and other retailers that do not sell as much as they expect or have not grown at the rate at which they anticipated. However, even if your results are excellent and your sales graph is currently on an upward curve, the theory generally remains the same. After all, the process of making more sales does not depend on how many you made last week if you try something new.
1. Launch Themed Days and Events
Assuming that the rest of your business strategy is sound, there should not be too much competition in the local area. Naturally, this is slightly different for online retailers, as the competition is never more than a couple of clicks away. Nevertheless, a dedicated day or event is a time that new and existing customers can put in their diary and look forward to. From there, you can do just about anything that comes to mind. If you sell books, get some authors and speakers in. If you sell fried chicken, make it Fried Chicken Day – it doesn’t have to be official! Anything that drums up interest and increases awareness should yield good results – just don’t do it too often and cheapen the idea.
2. Ramp Up Your Advertising
Following on from the concept of increasing exposure to boost sales indirectly, it may be time to increase your advertising spend. There has never been a better time to be an advertiser – online advertising has made targeting a reality, to the point that even more traditional advertising platforms have had to adapt to keep up.
Further to this, we’d suggest that you get out of your comfort zone. If you sell online, consider print and other offline opportunities. If you’re a retail store, get your name in front of the local with targeted Facebook ads. The more unique your approach, the less likely your competition is to do the same thing.
3. Revisit Your Approach to Pricing
If sales do not increase or, even worse, decline, then it might be time to accept that you shouldn’t do something just because that’s how you’ve always done it. If you’ve always sold items for a 10% markup and done well from that, has this led to you becoming overpriced compared to the competition? Would you do just as well, if not better, with more units at a lower markup? A few taps on a smartphone are all it takes for a potential customer to find the best price, so it makes sense to ensure that it's you they find.
4. Update the Store Design
If you run a physical location, your store layout should take advantage of the common psychological tricks that major players take advantage of. If you make a profit on every item, it becomes a numbers game, and if you can encourage a customer to pick up something else on their way to pay, that’s more money in your pocket.
If you operate online, revisit the sales process from arrival on the site to paying. Think about whether there are opportunities to upsell or at least capture the customer’s data for future follow-up.
5. Optimise Your Social Strategy
Social media conflicts with some of our tips as we prefer to focus on what you can do differently to your competition. However, this is an essential component of any strategy, and it is crucial that you are at least as visible, if not more so. If you have social profiles but never use them, start to interact with others. If you do make use of them, consider how you can take them to the next level – promote Tweets, post events on Facebook and take advantage of all the promotional tools that could potentially revive any flagging business.
6. Look After the Pennies
Several of these tips will cost money, at least in the short-term but the fact that you often need to spend money to make money never goes away. However, if the time has come that you need to boost sales, rather than simply want to, then it is time to take control of expenditure. In amongst all your other activities and jobs, don’t lose sight of the balance sheet. Cost savings can often counter a decline in sales and return you to a more favourable footing.
7. Gain Free Buzz and PR
If it fits with your business, you should never ignore the opportunity to get yourself and your business out there. Paid promotion is excellent, but the free alternative often feels more natural and genuine. If you do indeed sell food, cater local community events. If your work corresponds with local charities, make a point of helping them out. Don’t rely on coverage for your efforts, but appreciate it when it comes around.
8. Tailor Your Offering to Word of Mouth
Not all businesses have the opportunity to go the extra mile. If you run a newspaper stand, people come to buy newspapers and not much else – but they could go anywhere convenient. However, if you run the kind of store that can overdeliver, endeavour to do so. If you sell a certain number of things for a set price, toss in a few extras. People are likely to mention these efforts to friends.
9. Consider Affiliate Programs
We love affiliate programs. Get your pricing right, and you’ll make a profit on each sale as before, even though someone has done the hard work and taken a cut. No sales mean no cost. If you’re online, use an established service. For offline businesses, offer incentives to those that bring in more business.
10. Try New Channels
If you sell offline, move online. If you sell online, consider whether a retail store would work. A huge part of sales is to make it possible for your products to sell with the minimum of fuss. The more channels through which you can reach the customer, the better the results.