How to make more sales in your independent shop!

Do you want to increase the amount of money you take in your shop or café and ensure your customers get the best possible experience? Here are my top 12 ways for independents to improve sales and customer service.

One of the independent shops I visited with great customer service

One of the independent shops I visited with great customer service

1. Take card payments (and make sure this includes contactless and mobile pay). I feel this should go without saying but it’s amazing how many shops still don’t! You no longer have to sign a contract and pay monthly rental; from as little as £19 for a card reader & 1.69% of a transaction, you can start taking payments that arrive in your account 2-3 days later. You can even pick them up in Rymans. Not taking cards results in lots of lost sales as people don’t always know their pin or can’t be bothered to go and find cash. Two shops on my recent trip to Whitby lost sales from me. The first one missed out on a £45 necklace sale simply because they didn’t take cards. Later, our spend in a chocolate shop was limited to the £8 in our pocket rather than the £20 of gifts we wanted. I’m always confused by businesses choosing to be cash only. Yes, there’s a small fee to pay, but surely its safer than having a lot of cash on the premises? And when do you get chance to go to the bank to pay it in or get change? You’ll be amazed how much more people will spend – nearly 20 years ago when I opened my first shop, sales jumped by a third the day I got my card machine. Imagine how much more that would be now!

2. Stick to your opening hours. Customers need to know they can trust you. If you have to pop out be specific with when you’ll be back – no "back in ten minutes" signs or even worse "back soon". A potential customer needs to know whether you’ve just left or are nearly back. By saying "back at X o’clock" customers know they can rely on you.

3. Say hello to all customers and make sure your staff do too. You don’t need to pester them, but saying hello immediately reassures them that you’re friendly and approachable.

4. Thank customers when they leave. That way they know you appreciate them and they are more likely to want to visit again.

5. Go the extra mile. Offer to swap earrings to a pendant, fishhooks to non-pierced earrings. Change the colour of a gift box. Offer to order in items that are out of stock. If you show you care about your customers needs, they’re more likely to care about you and visit you first next time.

6. Sell on multiple channels: bricks and mortar as well as your website/Etsy/Amazon etc. This will increase your reach and open your business up to more sales. If you can’t put your whole range online, just list the most popular items.

7. Be visible in your business. People like to buy from people not businesses – add an "about me" page to your website, with photos. Also put the occasional picture of yourself and staff on social media. For more info, check out my blog on personal branding for shops.

8. Register with "Google my business" and set up a Facebook business page. This way you can attract new customers and update opening hours and information more easily. It’ll also help customers find you on Google maps and local searches. 

9. Set up a mailing list and send out newsletters. This way you can quickly and easily keep your customers updated about new products, special offers and events. Aim to send emails out at least quarterly, monthly is even better.

10. Collaborate and build a community. Can you get other shops on your street involved to host a street party or series of special offers on the same day? Could you organise a festival for your local high street or town? This way everyone benefits from higher footfall and a more engaging visit.

11. Work on providing experiences. Can you offer tastings, demos, workshops, make overs or pop-ups inside your store? 

'The longer consumers spend in a store, the greater the likelihood of increased spend. By adding foodservice options, hosting events, encouraging consumers to come and try products, and providing other reasons to visit stores, retailers can benefit fromthe increasing proportion of consumer spend which goes towards leisure.’ BDO 

12. Offer a loyalty scheme. It doesn’t have to offer money off, it could offer a free greetings card on your 10th visit or 20% off a workshop the 5th time a customer spends over £10. Either way, it will build customer loyalty and encourage a higher spend. 'Among consumers using loyalty programmes, almost half (47%) spend more with a brand whose scheme they are member of, whilst four in ten (38%) are more likely to recommend the brand. What’s more, more than quarter (28%) say they feel “emotionallyconnected” with a brand whose programme they belong to.YouGov

If you’d like help implementing any of these ideas or would like to chat about them feel free to send me a message!