Here come the holidays! If you run a retail store, you know what that means. According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales represent an average of 20 percent of annual retail sales. For some industries, it’s even higher. How ready are you to take advantage of the season? No matter how well prepared you are, there are always ways to improve your in-store marketing. Here are some easy things you can do to boost retail sales.
1. Lighten Up — The quality of your lighting has a direct impact on sales. In general, customers prefer stores that are cheery and well lit. The quality of your lighting matters, too. Harsh fluorescent lighting can deter sales, while one study found that daylighting with skylights boosted sales in a chain of retail stores by an average of 40 percent. Even if you don’t have the budget to invest in skylights or new fixtures, you can use your existing lighting to strategically highlight merchandise displays. Be sure to direct lights away from people’s eyes, and clean your fixtures regularly to keep your show floor looking clean and bright.
2. Offer Samples — Who doesn’t love a free sample? Samples remove the risk factor of buying by allowing your customers to experience your merchandise before they buy. Giving freebies also triggers the “reciprocity principle” in your customer’s brain. This is the psychological tendency for people to want to give back when treated well. In a retail situation, of course, this means it makes them more likely to buy.
3. Let Your Customers Get Hands On — Many retailers cringe when customers want to touch their merchandise, but if you want to sell more, you might want to reconsider the hands-off policy. Handling an item can trigger feelings of ownership, so it’s no wonder the longer a customer spends with an item, the more likely they are to buy. Consider setting up a few “interactivity stations” where customers can play with or try fun or interesting things in your store.
4. Start a Loyalty Program — It’s far easier to sell to a person who is already your customer than one who has never purchased from you. Loyalty programs are an easy way to maximize per-customer sales, and customers love them. Starting a loyalty program can be as easy as printing a few punch cards, where customers get a punch-per-purchase and a reward when it’s filled. To maximize results, add a couple extra punches to your card — and punch those for “free” when you give your card. The added perceived value encourages them to fill it the rest of the way.
5. Use Signs to Advantage — People are trained from an early age to follow signs. No wonder more than half of consumers are more likely to enter a store with a sale sign in the window. You can use signs to drive or direct traffic, educate your customers, highlight certain items, and communicate special offers and promotions. Don’t be afraid to invest in professional signage. One study showed a 55 percent increase in sales when products were sold using professionally produced signs rather than handwritten ones.
6. Be Friendly — Finally, don’t forget that people love to do business with people they like. Train your sales staff to be friendly and polite, and above all to smile. To take it a step further, here are a few tips to make your friendly interactions pay off even more:
- Ask “Have you been here before?” If they haven’t, give them the tour. If they have, welcome them back and thank them for being a repeat visitor. This technique has been shown to increase sales by 16 percent.
- Don’t ask “Can I help you?” Most people will answer “no, just looking.” Instead, assume they’re there for a reason and ask “What can I help you with today?”
- Show interest in them. Compliment their scarf, ask where they’re from, or even how they’re enjoying the weather. As long as you’re genuine, people appreciate your interest and will often reciprocate with a purchase.
Put a few of these techniques in place, and you will likely experience a boost in sales — not just over the holidays, but throughout the year!
Steve A. Parker is the Director of Communications at Raider Signage, a California-based commercial signage company. It is committed to installing quality signs, including monument signs, LED digital signage and custom signs.