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A view of the industry through the eyes of independent and chain retailers.

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50 Ideas To Increase Store Sales!

Basic, simple, and effective.

by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender (August 2, 2010)

(Editor's Note: Meetings & Conventions magazine took a survey of meeting planners asking them to name their favorite speakers/keynote presenters – and Kizer & Bender make the list, along with such luminaries as Dr. Stephen R. Covey, Mike Ditka, Bill Gates, Rudy Giuliani, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Jay Leno, Colin Powell, and others.)

It’s a busy retail world out there – every competitor wishes they had more customers. Actually, they wish they had YOUR customers. Keep competitors at bay and thrilling your customers with these easy-to-implement, customer-pleasing, traffic-building, sales-increasing ideas!

On the Sales Floor …

1. The customer’s first 10 seconds inside the store sets the tone for their entire shopping trip. What kind of first impression does yours give? Check it daily.

2. Hang a bulletin board near your Decompression Zone (the first 5-15’ inside your front door). Post a store map, a list of this week’s sale items, Bag Stuffers, class calendar, special events, and other important information. In time, customers will stop at the bulletin board first to see what’s going on in the store.

3. Place Speed Bumps – small tabletop displays of product just beyond your Decompression Zone. Make these displays irresistible and easy to shop: customers are far more likely to buy if they are encouraged to pick up the product.

4. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires store aisles to be a minimum of 3.6’. Could a wheelchair bound customer easily maneuver your aisles? Can two customers comfortably shop in the same aisle?

5. Set your end features to sell! End features are meant to display promotional items; not to house everyday, basic merchandise. You need to plan what will go on your end features, so assign each one a number, and make a list of product each end feature will house each month. Take this calendar with you to trade shows and look for merchandise specials specifically for your end features.

6. Studies show that customers will spend 25% more in dollars, and up to 15 minutes longer in the store when they shop with a cart. Even if your store is tiny you can still offer customers a shopping cart. Visit BigBasketCo.com and check out their Basket Carts – they’re no wider that a typical shopping basket, but they sure help sell product.

7. Do not house shopping carts and/or baskets in the Decompression Zone because customers will walk right by them. Instead, place them just past the DZ and in key locations throughout the store. Instruct associates to get a cart or basket for customers carrying product – once their hands are full they tend to stop shopping.

8. Implement a signing program. Signs serve a purpose – they act as silent sales people, helping customers until a real person is available to help. And unless handwritten signing is part of your store décor, don’t do it. Professional sign making software is available from a variety of suppliers, including Insignia Systems, Inc. www.insigniasystems.com

Check Out the Checkouts

9. The wall directly behind your checkout counter is major selling space!  Use it to display new items, hot buys, and impulse product.

10. Policy signing must be professionally done. Nuke the “No! No! No’s!” Write your policy signing in a positive voice: “We gladly accept returns and exchanges within _________ days. Your receipt guarantees it.”

11. Increase sales at the checkout with impulse item displays – your female customers can’t resist them!

12. Instruct associates not to hang out behind the checkout counter unless they are helping a customer. And when they are assigned the job of cashier, have them work on a project in-between customers.

13. Save the sale! Keep a stash of items that customers frequently forget at each checkout counter. Then when a shopper says, “I forgot to get __________.  I’ll get it next time.”, the cashier can reach under the counter and hand the customer that item.  Cashiers can be your best add-on sales associates!

Store Operations

14. Make sure that your store is open when your customers need to shop. This means before and after work, nights, and Sundays.

15. Decide how you want the telephone to be answered, and then let every associate know that’s the plan. The phone must be answered within three rings; customers are “connected,” not “transferred”; customers are asked before being placed on-hold; and no one stays on-hold longer than 45 seconds.

16. Cross merchandise whenever and wherever possible. Visit SouthernImperial.com for J-hooks, clip strips, power panels, and other inexpensive fixtures designed to help you sell more product.

17. Assign Category Captains. Their job includes making sure the shelves are full, the shelf space is optimized to avoid out of stocks, and that top sellers have been given enough facings.

18. Control your back stock. Make sure the product you are about to order is not already in your back room.

19. Create a “Never Out” Item List. Category Captains can check this list daily, and re-order product as necessary.

20. Every item on your sales floor must be assigned a “home” that is identified with a bin ticket. If you do not use bin tickets your stock will not be organized and product could end up in several different places.

21. Ditch the dogs! Add a “sell by” date to price tags and bin tickets and markdown as necessary. Move product with special sales, grab bags, store-created kits, and “Last Chance” clearance dump displays.

Your “Things to Do” List

22. Do our 360 Degree Pass-By every, single day. Begin at the front door and walk the entire store – every aisle, nook, cranny, restroom, and service area. Note things that need to be attended to before the store opens for the day.

23. Are your windows set to sell? Window displays need to be refreshed as necessary and set to a new theme on a monthly basis.

24. Each morning create a Store Opening Checklist that outlines tasks that must be completed by the day crew.

25. Each afternoon create out a Store Closing Checklist. These are the things the closing team must accomplish before they leave for the night.

26. Set a daily sales quota for each person working that day. If it’s not written down, it’s not a goal. Your people will perform better if they know what’s expected of them.

27. Make time each day to quietly observe your customers. This daily exercise will help you come up with new ways to amp up the customer experience.

28. Host one MAJOR in-store event and two or three MINOR in-store events each month. Major events fill the store with shoppers; minor events limit the amount of participants. Think demos and classes.

Your Team

29. Hold a New Hire Orientation for each new associate. Let them know what’s expected and give them an assignment they can easily accomplish on the first day – this will boost their on the job self-esteem.

30. Implement our “7-Tile Rule™": Each time an associate comes within seven floor tiles – that’s seven feet – of a customer they must acknowledge that customer.

31. Don’t react to customer questions. Respond. When you react you tend to give a short, unfocused answer. But when you respond to a customer, you look them in the eye and really engage them in conversation.

32. Associates must also do a daily 360 Degree Pass-By. They need to know the products they sell, and where they are located in the store. Associates must also memorize the prices and locations of key items.

33. Unless the customer looks like they need help ASAP, never ask, “May I help you?”  Talk about the customer’s kids, the weather, or local news – the best opening lines have nothing to do with the store. Schmooze a little before you talk about product.

34. Have associates carry product you don’t want customers to miss (or that you just can’t seem to move). After a little schmoose time, the associate can talk with the customer about the item.

35. Encourage every associate to practice add-on selling; the goal is to sell the primary item, plus additional merchandise. Ethically adding on to the sale actually strengthens customer relationships because it saves them time and money. If they forget a key item, and have to come back, they aren’t going to be very happy about it.

36. Do a monthly add-on selling exercise. Hold up an item and ask associates to shout out complementary items they could add on to the original item. If they can’t come up with a complementary add-on, they can always suggest a sale or value-priced item.

37. Each month ask associates to write three things they could do to exceed customer expectations. Implement their suggestions.

38. Reward associates when they do a good job. Programs like “Associate of the Month” and “Super Star of the Week” are great motivators IF they are well run. Have associates nominate one another and vote for the winner.

39. Be flexible with scheduling. According to a recent survey, 61% of working women would leave their current jobs if they were offered more flexible hours elsewhere.

40. Offer on-going education. Hold monthly in-store training classes, keep a library of books and DVDS, and ask vendors what they have available to help train your team.

41. Two words: Dress code. Every associate should be properly dressed to meet your customers.  Even when you provide garments, you still must be very specific about what is acceptable to wear to work and what is not.

Build a buzz about town

42. Pick an email marketing company and send out monthly email blasts. Send your blasts on the same day each month and customers will look forward to receiving them. We like EmailContact.com because it offers lots of templates, it’s easy to use, and live help is always available. Add a “Forward to Your Friend” link to every promotional and marketing email message you send to customers.

43. Use free social medias, like Facebook and Twitter, to your advantage. Remember it’s SOCIAL media, a conversation, so answer as many friend/fan/follower comments as you can. If all you do is sell, sell, sell you won’t have friends, fans, or followers for very long. And don’t abandon your account – once you sign up commit at least 30 minutes a day to updates.

44. Create a weekly Bag Stuffer and hand one to every single shopper. DO NOT pre-stuff them in your bags – they never get read if you do that! Some weeks use your Bag Stuffers to advertise specific product or events; other times create a monthly calendar that’s loaded with in-store goings-on.

45. Make a list of all the services and conveniences you provide and build a “Brag Sheet.” Print it on the back of your weekly Bag Stuffer and add it to your website and e-mail blasts. You can also turn it into a big sign to hang near the checkout counter. Soon you’ll begin to hear, “I didn’t know you did that!”

46. Watch QVC and HSN and the infomercials on television. Each time they feature a product that you sell, hang "Same As Seen on TV!" signs over that product in your store.

47. Make your own “radio” advertising campaign. Play it over the intercom system and it use it as your telephone on-hold message.

48. Contact local media and pitch stories about your store, product lines, services, in-store events and promotions, charity events, your people, trips to trade shows, and more. Eighty percent of the stories in local media come from a press release, so send one for each legitimately newsworthy thing you do in your store.

49. Contact your trade associations and ask to be put on their Reporter Referral List. Who knows? You just might end up on national TV!

50. Collect customer testimonials and add them to your e-mail blasts, newsletters, website, and other marketing materials. Customer quotes are also great additions to your in-store signing program. A customer testimonial is 10–20 times more powerful than what you have to say about yourself!

Send an e-mail to info@kizerandbender.com and put “50 Things” in the subject line, and we’ll send you the forms mentioned in this article, plus additional customizable templates and employee motivational tools to help you stimulate store sales!

Note: To read previous columns, click on the titles in the right-hand column.

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