During the holiday season, it’s not uncommon for shoppers to feel rushed. If you can offer harried consumers a “port in the storm” and encourage them to slow down amidst the holiday hustle and bustle, you may be able to increase retail sales.
“Around the holidays, there's a simple truth that makes sales easier,” says Ramin Cohen, president of watch reseller Sell Me Watch. “Almost every person who comes through the door already has the intent to make a purchase. All a retailer must do is make customers feel welcomed and unrushed.”
Atila Ghassemi, co-owner of Diamond & Design Jewelers, agrees.
“In my experience, there's one element that must be eliminated before your holiday in-store efforts can succeed: pressure,” Ghassemi says. “Holiday shoppers face enormous amounts of pressure to make quick decisions. Customers will reward you with their patronage if you make your store a holiday shopping solution.”
Tips for Getting Customers to Linger and Increase Retail Sales
While most customers walk through the door with a particular purchase in mind, Jackie Abraham, president of Jackie Abraham Jewelers, has found that that if you can get customers to stay long enough during the holiday season, you can increase retail sales.
“If they explore items related to what they came to find, they quickly lose that singular focus and are much more willing to consider their options before making a purchase,” says Abraham. “In many cases, that leads to a bigger sale than you would have had otherwise.”
Once you get customers into your brick-and-mortar store during the holiday rush, there are tactics you can use to keep them there that are likely to increase retail sales. These methods can also be used during any time of the year.
1. Engage to increase retail sales.
“Convenience, which you find online is good, but community is better,” says Annette Norton, owner of apparel and lifestyle store Savvy + Grace. “People enjoy being connected. The longer they stay in your store, the more they’ll connect, and you’ll increase retail sales. I love talking with customers. We’ll discuss who the gift is for, and I’ll offer my opinion.”
Ryan Novak, owner of the Chocolate Pizza Company, starts conversations with customers by offering fun facts about his business.
“Customers want to know what they're buying and from whom,” says Novak of his company, which manufactures gourmet chocolate gifts. “The company backstory keeps them in the store longer and makes them more likely to purchase.”
Novak posts fun facts around the store that help increase retail sales.
“When a mom can tell her kids that we use the equivalent of 12 T-Rex dinosaurs of chocolate every year, kids connect with the treats,” he says. “When dad notices that our largest single order was for 31,000 Chocolate Pizzas that left on nine semi-trucks, it's a fun story to share with the family.”
2. Offer tasty refreshments.
Many retailers find that offering something tasty to drink and eat keeps customers lingering and helps increase retail sales.
“Since our greeters are trained to ask questions that petition open-ended answers, oftentimes conversations can be long,” says Nicholas James, founder and president of CabinetVille, a cabinetry store that sees an increase in foot traffic during the holiday season.
“In order to prevent a prospective lead from ending the client discovery phase prematurely due to a growling tummy or restless child, we bake up small batches of fresh cookies that our visitors can snack on as they speak to our sales associates,” says James.
3. Make your space aromatic.
Many retailers find that it also helps to make your brick-and-mortar space smell like the holidays.
“Studies have shown that our sense of smell is tied most closely with emotion,” says James. “During the holidays to increase retail sales, we simmer mulling spices to fill the space with a nostalgic aroma that conjures memories of home. It is the quintessential scent of the holiday season that combines water, cinnamon sticks, a pinch of whole cloves and an orange peel.”
Norton also uses this tactic. “When customers walk in, one comment we hear frequently is how it smells so good,” she says. “We light scented candles and carry aromatherapy products.”
4. Provide free Wi-Fi.
“As an auto dealer, when we have customers come in during the holiday season, it’s imperative we slow them down in order to build value in their eyes,” says Joe Akers, director of operations for Cowles Nissan.
Akers has found that the longer he can keep customers in the dealership, the more likely they’ll purchase a vehicle and complementary products. One thing that helps ensure this occurs is easy access to the internet.
“Customers always use our free phone chargers and Wi-Fi,” he says. “If you don’t provide them with internet access, they’ll often leave as soon as possible. This simple solution helps them relax and stay.”
5. Make the visit ultra-comfortable for your customers.
“One of the best ways our store has found to keep customers engaged and in the store is to make them as comfortable as possible,” says Craig Slavens, CEO of Luxe Fine Jewelers.
Studies have shown that our sense of smell is tied most closely with emotion. During the holidays to increase retail sales, we simmer mulling spices to fill the space with a nostalgic aroma that conjures memories of home.
— Nicholas James, founder and president, CabinetVille
“Shoppers tend to arrive bundled up in winter coats carrying bags from previous stops. We offer them a place to store their things while they shop and offer a hot drink,” says Slavens. “That encourages them to spend more time shopping, because let's face it: Nobody wants to go back out in the cold when they can look at beautiful jewelry while sipping on hot cocoa.”
6. Hold special events.
Some retailers find that special events during the holidays draw in the crowds and keep them there.
“We have had successful after-hours fundraisers that give back to the community and help increase retail sales,” says Norton. “At our last fundraiser, we had more than 80 customers show and shop within the two hours. Thank goodness we rented a tent to help hold all the people. It was standing room only.”
Michael Zadeh, founder of Z Cosmetic Health Spa, has found that many people have a desire to feel good during the holiday season. In response, he hosts events featuring discounts on non-invasive cosmetic services.
“These events allow customers the opportunity to explore our various services, purchase holiday packages for their loved ones and get a feel for the spa experience we offer,” he says. “We create a party atmosphere by offering refreshments, raffle prizes and music. We also offer exclusive pricing on treatments, free gift cards and complimentary skin analyses.”
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