As a small business owner, sales are at the heart of your business. It does not matter that you have passion and vision if your goods are not going out the door. Small businesses with fewer resources need to get creative when it comes to building sales. You need to increase your customer base and make the sales process simple.
1.) Stop Trying So Hard
No one wants a hard sell from a pushy salesperson. It may work once in a while, but it rarely leads to return business. As a small business, you and your staff should try to make real connections with customers. Part of the attraction of a smaller retail venue is that you will have expertise that big-box store employees lack. Take the time to get to know your customers and their needs. When you establish a good rapport with returning customers, they are much more likely to take your product recommendations as well as suggest your business to friends and family members.
It is also important to make the shopping experience easy for your clientele. Well-designed point of sale systems make it simple for your customers to purchase items in the store and online. When the purchase process moves smoothly, shoppers are less likely to get frustrated or second-guess themselves.
2.) Advertise on Social Media
More and more small businesses are realizing the power of social media. Some companies have an employee whose only task is to maintain an online presence. Through social media platforms, you can stay in contact with your loyal customers and reach out to a new population. These platforms also give you the ability to create targeted ads. Instead of putting up a billboard for the general public, you can put your brand on the screens of those in your area most likely to seek it. You can refine your target audience through several filters such as age, location and gender.
An important benefit of social media connections is the ability to communicate and gather feedback from customers. When you encourage your customers to put positive reviews on your pages, other people in their online community will see them. The way you deal with criticism is another opportunity to enhance your reputation. Customers respect companies that admit their mistakes and seek to improve.
3.) Take It Outside
Depending on your location, bringing some of your business outside can be a helpful practice. Some businesses use sidewalk discounts as a means to move dated inventory. At other times, a sidewalk sale can be a way to show customers what your store is all about. Interesting items on the outside may lead people to explore your inventory inside the shop.
For the most effective outdoor event, it is important to think about providing an easy and secure way to make purchases. If you are selling just outside your store, you may be able to run a POS machine with a physical link to your system. In other venues, you will want an effective point of sale app that runs through a tablet or laptop. To save time, make sure that your purchasing equipment includes a card reader so that people can use their debit or credit cards.
4.) Create Your Own Holiday
Everyone likes an excuse to celebrate. Bookstores will throw parties to celebrate the birth of a favorite character. Other stores might hold a celebration to honor an important figure in their industry. These are perfect moments for creative marketing and outreach. When you advertise these events through social media, you can draw in loyal customers around special presentations, events and sales.
Some of these special events can grow unexpectedly. The American Express company started Small Business Saturday as a marketing campaign to build on the Black Friday spending spree. Many small businesses embraced the idea so that it has grown into a national event beyond the original marketing scheme.
5.) Hand Out Coupons
If your business sees a fair amount of foot traffic, handing out coupons is another way to entice new customers to come inside. People associate this practice with staff members standing outside the store, but there are other creative ways to get news about special sales in front of your customers. Many stores will place printable coupons or a bar code that patrons can scan on their websites, e-newsletters or social media platforms.
You can also include coupons as part of your marketing campaigns. If you sponsor the local high school music or sports programs, you can include a coupon for special sales after the game or concert in the paper program. Not only will this expand people’s knowledge of your brand, but it will also highlight your involvement in the local community.
When you are using coupons, be certain that all the information is accurate and useful. The coupon should apply to items in your store that are interesting. People may feel deceived if the special deal only applies to last season’s merchandise. It is very important to include an expiration date. Otherwise, you may have people turning in coupons for products you no longer carry long after the marketing campaign has ended.
6.) Keep Lines Short
As a small business, you want to maintain a reputation for great customer service. There is nothing more frustrating than having to wait in line. Once customers have made their shopping decisions, they want to end the shopping process as efficiently as possible. A long wait in line can damage your reputation and cost you customers.
As your business grows, you may want to have multiple POS terminals at different locations in your store. Some businesses use point of sale systems that allow for easy expansion so that only one terminal is in use during slower parts of the day, but multiple options are available if needed.
It is also important to train your staff to minimize the time spent waiting in line. Most staff members should be able to help people check out. They should also all be paying attention to how long the checkout line is at any given time. While friendly staff members may engage customers as they wait in line, the best policy is to do what you can to make the wait as short as possible.
7.) Set Up an Attractive Loyalty Program
Most people enjoy the idea that they are getting special treatment. A customer loyalty program offers benefits to the shoppers who most frequently use your store. In some cases, customers receive credit for future purchases with each dollar they spend. In other cases, program members might have access to special pricing or events. Inviting a select group to see your latest products will make your loyal customers feel appreciated. Comprehensive point of sale systems make it easy to sign customers into your loyalty plan and help plan members keep track of their rewards.
Increasing sales is a constant challenge for small retail businesses. It takes a great deal of work and creativity to draw in new customers and maintain strong connections with the ones you already have. Every setting is different, so the important thing is to keep trying new ideas to improve the customer experience. By working to increase sales, you are helping your small business thrive.
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