In the good old days shoppers – and browsers – were on a mission. They had a list, they knew what they wanted, and were highly focused. It was easy to meet the needs of those customers. A clean store and product on shelves was all that was required.
Today when customers head to the high street – or the larger shopping malls – they are also on a mission. However, they are looking not so much for products but inspiration. They are browsers. And it is our job as retailers to turn them into buyers.
- Orientate yourself
The first step is to orientate yourself. Set a benchmark, quantify how you’re doing at the moment, and measure the effectiveness of your conversion to buyer tactics. The metric is simple – what percentage of people coming into the centre make a transaction at a till point.
- Get them excited
The way that products are merchandised can make a huge difference on sales. It is no longer enough just to have the product on the shelf, we need to tempt people to fall in love and want it.
At the deli counter we can do this with a ‘cheese of the month’ which is available for tasting. In the plantaria, signs saying ‘sniff me’ ‘touch me’ ‘take me home and love me’ can all be effective.
- Map out the customer journey
When was the last time you watched the way people shop your centre – mapping the route they take, looking at the areas they visit and the areas they miss? Once we have this data we can ‘zone’ products and plan customer flow. The main journey is to the coffee shop and back, so it is vital to make this walk as interesting and inspiring as possible.
- The long game
One of the strange rules of retailing is that as the store becomes busier sales fall, with customers being turned off by the inevitable queues at till points and so on.
So, if you have a major footfall event (say, Santa arriving by helicopter), turn those browsers into buyers with a money off voucher inviting them back when the store is quieter.
- Gentle encouragement
A well-trained, attentive team, who can spot when people are on the verge of buying can offer encouragement and gently make the sale. These sales-makers can make a huge difference when converting browsers into buyers.
- Release the staff
The above only works if staff are freed up to sell. If they are merchandising or putting out stock, by definition they are not available to make the sale. So at key sales times, release your staff to sell, to help customers make informed choices.
- The power of two
One of the best ways to measure how effective you are in converting browsers to buyers is to split a team into two. Let them both set up displays and try differing techniques to increase sales. Have fun with prizes for the team which has the most success.
- Break down the barriers
Understand and then remove the obstacles to buying. For instance, dead plants remind customers of their failures and put them off making a purchase. In the same way plant guarantees reassure customers and help make the sale (in particular of higher value plants).
- Gardeners question time
Engage with your customers. Every day hundreds of retail consultants come to your store (and visit the competition). Are you asking them the right questions?
The till system can tell you a lot, but a detailed chat with customers can be even more valuable.
- Show them you care
Finally, be relentlessly enthusiastic. If you don’t care about your stock, how can you expect your customers to?