Key features of successful retail selling | Sunday Observer

Key features of successful retail selling

7 November, 2021

Retail sale occurs when a business sells a product to an individual consumer for his or her own use. Wikipedia describes retail as an activity of selling goods or services directly to consumers or end-users. However, retailers can offer their products to business customers as well, depending on the product. Retail sales transactions can take place through various channels such as brick-and-mortar (physical store), online, storefront, direct sales, or direct mailing.

Retailing is an extremely important activity in a society where consumers benefit through offering access to a broad variety of products and services. Retail stores also create a place, time, and range of choices with flexibility to consumers when they have a need. They help consumers by offering ready-to-be-consumed-goods at their respective stores or show rooms. Retailers, regardless of the size of the store, stock goods by utilizing their own funds to ensure the customer convenience.

Retailing also has a great impact on the economy of a country. The economies require a vibrant retail sector and the retail industry plays a predominant role. Perhaps, the most important economic function of retailing is the employment generation where millions of people are directly or indirectly engaged throughout the world and in Sri Lanka.

Apart from the direct employees, retail sector contributes to the economy through numerous manufacturers of retail goods, wholesalers, distributors, and many other industry stakeholders.

Every retailer, big or small, wants to do more selling at their retail stores. They invariably search for new ideas or strategies to increase sales volumes. From a mega show room to a retailer on the roadside most often attempt to be creative. Whilst a large scale retailer offers discounts, incentives, or free gifts, a small retailer, depending on the product, offer reduced prices or other innovative encouragements to customers.

Conscious understanding of how to sell in a retail outlet is the key skill every retailer should focus on. Retail selling techniques are an orderly process of developing the best possible connection between the shopper and the product through proper interaction.

Most important

The most important factor in retail selling is that the customer comes to the doorstep with a need. This means that 50% of the selling effort is successfully completed. The retail salesman has to do only the balance 50% by using his skills. Hence, here are some simple ideas on improving retail sales in the store.

The famous idiom ‘first impressions are the most lasting’ is the most important in any selling situation, but more so in a retail selling. However, at present, due to the health restrictions, everyone including sales staff is wearing face masks. But, check carefully in the mirror.

Your friendly smile can be clearly visible to the customer through your eyes and your welcoming greeting can be heard unmistakably. Hence, with or without mask, best way to make a good first impression through a pleasant greeting is exceedingly vital first step.

Cross-selling, or the process of selling a different product or service to a customer from the available product portfolio, is a very powerful tool in retailing to enhance a value of a sale. Cross-selling skill is capitalizing on customers purchase intent by presenting additional products. Hence, train the show room staff on cross-selling and get them engaged can boost store revenue.

However, in cross-selling, timing is the essence. Rushing the customer is lethal and procrastination will run a risk of losing the sale altogether. Most often the best window opens when the customer commits himself for a purchase after the salesman spends sometime with the customer. For an example, if the customer purchases a garment, the salesman can approach the customer to suggest matching accessories.

Also, the sales pitch for a new item should come after the customer completely settle in with the initial purchase and not right after making his or her buying decision. Additionally, if the salesperson must be conscious about the customers budget before promoting another item.

Value and benefit

A key aspect to concentrate in cross-selling is that the add-on must not be done merely to enhance the value of the existing sale. The item that you suggest must compulsorily provide a value and benefit to the customer. The sales person must genuinely believe that the add-on is a need of the customer.

Inculcating a sense of urgency or scarcity is a method skillful sales people practice with customers. ‘FOMO’ or “fear of missing out’ is a phenomenon that triggers by a short squeeze aggravates sudden buying. Sales volume can be increased if this perception can be leveraged timely and efficiently by the sales people in a retail outlet. Limited-time offers and ‘today only’ promotion near checkout counters are some examples.

Educational initiatives are exceedingly effective methods that can be utilised to attract customers and influence them to make purchases in a retail store. Teaching something new to a customer through any available mean in the store not only will build customer loyalty but also helps the store to establish authority with the visiting customers. This is the reason for some of the best retail chains in the world and Sri Lanka to constantly organize product demonstrations, product testing, and useful purchasing guidelines to customers.

Upselling is another technique used by salesmen in retail outlets by offering a more expensive version of the same product. The upselling suggestion must be conveyed carefully after obtaining an idea of the customer’s budget subtly. A customer with a limited budget may feel insulted if a more expensive alternative is presented boldly. Just as cross-selling approach, this technique also must be timely presented to the customer.

According to Wikipedia, ‘clienteling’ is a technique used by retail sales associates to establish long-term relationships with key customers based of data on their preferences, beaviours, and purchases. The practice involves recording of each customer’s purchase history. This helps the retailer to continuously keep in touch with the customer for a long period and encourage repeat buying.

This technique not only retains the customer long-term but also builds up an unbreakable trust. The method is successfully applied by number of retailers in Sri Lanka as well. Keeping the communications channels opened to the customers and maintaining constant touch with greeting messages, newsletters, new product introductions, promotions, and competitions is a sure way of retaining a customer.

Customer service

Repeat purchase is the key to success in retail business. Hence, customer service is an incredibly important part of retail business. It also is one of the most essential elements for differentiation aspects of the current fiercely competitive retail market. Every retailer including a large retail chain to a small neighbourhood shop concentrates of providing a pleasant and comfortable buying experience to the customer.

As commonly known, the rapidity, politeness, and friendliness of the staff are a vital part of customer service experience. In addition, the knowledge about the product, language, skill of overcoming objections, and undivided attention are also integral parts of the service excellence that must be practiced by the entire frontline staff. Even an average customer notices these behavioral patterns when they visit a store. These aspects build the customer’s perception about the store.

Making a retail sale is an unpredictable action that should be performed by trained staff. The goal is to sell everyone who walks into a store. A customer visits a retail store with a definite intention to buy a product or service and not taking the advantage of the 50% of the pre sale is a waste. Even if a single customer walks out due to inefficiency or carelessness of the staff, the cost for the retailer can immense as the core intention in retailing is repetition of purchases.