Retail: It’s a simple equation

Retail shopping bags

Our white paper ‘Rise of the Modern Retailer’ has sparked a lot of conversation about what retail ‘looks’ like. The general consensus seems to be; it’s a changing face with many facets. We’re seeing retailers who’ve been around for years falling by the wayside. We’re seeing new ones come on board. We’re seeing a real escalation in online retailing.

I read something recently that said 81% of customers research products online before making a big purchase. So, we’re going to retailers with a lot more knowledge than we used to. With the uptake of available technology, it’s all started to seem pretty complicated. I find myself thinking; when did retailing become so complicated? Isn’t retailing all about people and products…and a whole lot of passion? It’s pretty simple, and that’s what retailing is about; keeping it simple.

At the 2011 World Retail Congress, in Berlin, they gave ten key points. Third on the list was was “Remember, retailing is simple. Keep it simple”. Now, I bet you’re thinking “Hey Anya, it’s not that simple. We have a whole lot of competition out there. We’re not the only ones that sell this stuff.” The question I put to you is “What makes customers choose you?”

Sure, some of it’s about your advertising. And, If your advertising works, of course it’s going to bring people to your store. But, when they come to your store and they look around, what makes them buy? Where do the dollars come from? Is it about the fit-out, the atmosphere, the flow? Well, it is to a certain degree. But what your staff need to know is how to convert your customers. ‘Conversion’ is the ‘art of persuasion’. It’s about turning shoppers into buyers. That’s the key.

We know that people will buy anything that is 70% off. We also know that this strategy will lead to a death spiral, and there’s many examples of this happening in the market place. The real skill is being able to sell products at full margin. Customers need help to buy full price merchandise. In your stores, help comes in the form of your salespeople. They have the largest effect on full margin sales in your store. They’re also the single biggest reason that you lose customers.

So, yes they can play a huge part in increasing your sales. They can also play a massive part in pushing your customers towards an online experience. If you want customers to come back you’ve got to look after them. What retailers need is a sales culture inside their business. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. If you’re a retailer, you know this stuff. But, you want to make sure you do the basics well. Having a clear, effective retail sales training strategy is crucial. It’s a simple equation. It’s about energy in equalling energy out. You need a vision for success, a plan for implementation and the discipline to make it happen.

What does that equation look like to you? It’s your energy in, as an executive in the business, equalling the energy your sales team puts out to your customers. They’re the interface between your product and your customer. Your job is to teach your staff to sell. Commit to incremental change inside your business and move your team to a position where they can sell your products. Arm them with the tools to become great salespeople. After you’ve nailed that, then your can get fancy. You can start to talk about fit-out, about atmosphere, about flow. But, you should only do this after you’ve sorted number one; learn how to sell.

Want to see how your training stacks up? Take our retail training assessment.

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