Monday, March 19, 2012

Powerful Retail Selling Environments

Having shelves full of merchandise is fine, but it’s almost impossible to up-sell a customer if you just rely on the quantity of SKUs you offer. Even worse, impulse purchases might seem to be more likely, but they are just about non-existent in a cluttered, claustrophobic environment. The most successful retail operations have showrooms that make both of these profitable events happen more often. Here are some tips for making the most of your selling space:

● Your front window is the first impression many customers get, so make sure it’s an appealing one. It should be clean (including the glass), well-lit, and arranged in an uncluttered, entertaining way. Choose the merchandise you’re displaying carefully and remember that it will fade in the sun. Most pros suggest cleaning the space and re-doing the arrangement about once every six weeks.

● Keep the entrance area free of clutter. Customers—especially new ones—generally stop when they come through the door to look around and get their bearings, so give them a little room—and the sight lines—to do that. Avoid big displays just inside the door that might block their view of whatever it is they’re really shopping for.

● Keep your space brightly lit, not just because it makes the merchandise look more appealing, but because it gives a sense of energy and motion to the shopping experience.

● Silence is deadly, so crank up your CD player or radio. Almost any kind of music is good, just as long as it’s not so loud that the customers and your sales staff can’t hear each other.

● Take a tip from the supermarket industry and arrange your merchandise on shelves or racks in ways that encourage impulse buying. Put related items like winter hats and gloves near each other and remember that the items that sell the best tend to be displayed just below eye-level. Generally, goods located above the customer’s head might as well be hidden in the back room for all the attention they’re going to get.

Finally, keep in mind that every interaction with a customer is a transaction whether they buy something or not. Both you and the customer get something from every conversation; you get a chance to qualify them for future business by finding out what kind of lifestyle they have, the size of their family, and other important details that affect their purchasing intentions. They learn (hopefully) that your staff is knowledgeable and eager to assist and that you carry the kind of products that can help them achieve their goals—information that will bring them back again. So, even if they don’t make a purchase, be sure to thank them for coming in and invite them to come back soon.

Dave Donelson distills the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for small business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, motivating personnel, financial management, and business strategy.

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