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How can you drive sales during the sprint to your year-end finish line? The National Debt Clock shows consumer debt and, more specifically, credit card debt declining in the U.S. In addition to millions of people forced to cut expenses due to circumstances, millions more are heeding the call to reduce their debt and increase personal savings in the midst of this holiday season. Clearly, this bodes well for the country’s long-term future although it might mean your holiday sales figures are lower than you want, or need, for your business.
Consider these last minute income-producing strategies to increase your revenues between now and December 31.
Evaluate merchandise that isn’t moving.
If it’s unappealing for a reason – price or design – slash the price as low as you can (Is your alternative to have it hanging around next year?) to encourage sales, based on price.
Sometimes merchandise needs to be paired to sell. If that’s the case, display items together in your real or virtual store. Last week, I saw the most exquisite bottle stoppers. However, the stopper portion appeared smaller than most bottles. If the store owner had displayed a few in bottles and carafes, they would have been flying off the shelf rather than stacked high.
Some products need sales associate intervention. In a brick & mortar store, move these items adjacent to your registers. Train your sales staff to ask customers, who are buying complementary items, if they have seen the ‘Wonder Widget 1000’, which can be used in tandem with their purchase. Give your sales team a simple, few seconds of explanation that makes the associated merchandise ultra appealing. Offer monetary incentives for your sales force to increase total purchase amounts.
Create a welcoming environment – whether virtual or brick & mortar – for customers.
Some shops with a dearth of children and abundance of leisure-paced shoppers can offer refreshments. As a sometimes klutz, the idea of sticky liquid or food and anything it could damage sends shivers up my spine. Customer hospitality can be as much about the attitude of your business as anything. Enthusiastic, happy, helpful, caring employees create an atmosphere that makes people want to support your business. If you haven’t planned anything special for year-end, maybe you simply amp up your happiness quotient.
Or, consider action that requires minimal effort. Have you sold enough stock to have space in your storage area? How about turning it into a package check for customers? Make an easy-to-see banner for outside and a few signs for inside: Free package check with purchase. Hire a couple of on-vacation students that you trust to staff it, and set it up like any number-matching coat or luggage check. Use your empty stock space for the packages. Definitely display visible, readable signs at the check-in/pick-up desk, which state: Packages are left at the shopper’s risk.
Hang a banner offering free shopping bags with every purchase. You can consolidate other merchants’ purchases into your bags, which means your name will be populating the area. And if you have holiday bags, you might clean out your supply.
Continue to offer special services through New Year’s sales.
Online, provide assistance to accommodate late shoppers. If you can’t deliver merchandise when it’s desired, you can email an attractively designed certificate saying a gift from ‘Mahvalous Merchant’ will be delivered by a specific date? Give your customers something appealing to wrap as a gift.
Make shopping easy.
It seems basic, however, after several hours of brick & mortar shopping, I assure you it’s not. And you know you bail, when a retail website feels more like a maze than a store.
Stock shelves. In a not-busy major warehouse store, the item I wanted was on a high shelf far beyond my reach, sales help was difficult to find, and I finally gave up after waiting 20 minutes for twice-promised assistance. During my wait, I noticed products were missing from numerous shelves although they were readily available several feet up, beyond customer reach.
Eliminate clutter. Some small shops contain so much merchandise that purchasing becomes a clutter removal challenge. That’s acceptable in funky antique stores or bargain basements. It’s a turn-off in an upscale shop with many breakable items. In one overstuffed store, I heard three different shoppers say, “Let’s get out of here; I can’t find anything.” How much business is lost because stores make locating gifts difficult?
Be objective. Face and correct flaws to increase sales.
As the clock ticks down to the end of the year, consider fresh ideas that entice shoppers to spend money in your store. Sometimes the simplest solutions, executed with care, can produce extraordinary returns on your investment.