Oct 28, 2011 15:54
If holiday shoppers are going to be fewer this year, as some experts predict, then now’s the time to plot ways to turn more browsers into buyers, according to Dwight Hill, managing director of retail consulting firm The Retail Advisory LLC of Plano, Texas.
Sageworks, a financial information company, conducted an analysis of financial statements from private companies within all industries and found companies have seen a nearly 7 percent gain in revenue so far this year. But retail expert ShopperTrak says holiday foot traffic in stores will be 2.2 percent lower this year, hurt by persistently high unemployment rates and high gasoline prices.
“Every shopper in a store will be more valuable than last year,” ShopperTrak co-founder Bill Martin said recently. The Chicago research and retail services firm estimates sales in November and December should increase about 3 percent from last year, despite fewer shoppers.
Hill, who has worked with such retailers as the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, Zale Corp. (NYSE: ZLC) and Michaels Stores Inc., says a key focus of his practice is helping business owners improve conversion rates and helping them reduce the number of empty spaces on shelves when products are out of stock.
Here are Hill’s seven tips for boosting your sales conversion rates:
1. Talk to your customers – ask for feedback. Retailers must survey and research their customers to develop an understanding of the key triggers that motivate their particular customers to buy. Be it no-hassle returns, low-price assurance, great service, or clear signage, understanding these triggers is key to engineering the store/shopping experience that will drive conversion.
2. Be in stock. Ensure displays of merchandise are properly stocked and signed appropriately. Based on studies by the University of Florida, a three percentage point improvement in in-stock percentage yields a one percentage point increase in sales. There is nothing worse than losing business to your competitors when the merchandise is in the warehouse or back room.
3. Be ready for the customer. Schedule operational duties like price changes, ad sets, truck receiving, etc. to take place during closed or hours of minimal demand. Schedule enough staff to ensure the tasks do not impact service and the customer experience.
4. Provide good training. Your employees represent your store and brand – each and every day and during all open hours. Ensure they are trained to provide great service and are prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure that customer will leave the store as an advocate of your brand. This means not just being friendly, but also being ready to sell “solutions” to the customer.
5. Build a schedule with customer in mind. Schedule differently for the peak season, and schedule for customer traffic – regardless of time of day. Have a labor schedule that ensures you have enough sales associates for those peak times – including nights and weekends.
6. Have a floor leader. Schedule a manager whose sole focus during the holiday peak season is to ensure customers are taken care of and all associates are in their proper area.
7. Build an omni-channel strategy. Today, customers shop in store, online, and via smart phones. Create a strategy, process, and tools that allow a customer to interact – in the ways she chooses. What’s your best advice for turning browsers into buyers?