How Small Retailers Can Sell More Of Everything

Every small store wants to know how it can sell more. Surprisingly, it may not be that difficult.
Author, Profit First
December 30, 2011

Every small retail store wants to know how it can sell more. The more the store sells, the better the business is likely to do. Finding ways for small retailers to successfully sell more is a lot easier than you may realize!

Over the past year, I have met with countless owners of small stores. One of the benefits of doing business rescues on TV is that I get to speak with a lot of entrepreneurs during the casting period. I get the real stories about what they are doing to drive their own success.

Along the way, I have learned some effective approaches that retailers can use to increase their sales. Here are some of the secrets to selling more.

1. Hyper-niches

Successful retailers are not trying to be everything to everybody. Not even close. They identify the perfect customers and service all their needs. They seek out other customers interested in what they sell. In other words, they are only trying to be the perfect store for very specific customers. And while they have fewer customers, those customers buy more. A lot more.

2. Pop-up stores

If your best month is October (think Halloween stores), why try to sustain your retail space during the other months? Instead, open up a location with an ultra-short-term lease, such as one month. Make all your revenue, and then close up shop again.

This can work in many industries. If you’re in fashion, pop up when you’re ready to introduce a new line. Holiday-related stores can open for the holiday buying-time only. Home supplies can pop up when a large, new construction project is happening. And restaurants can open once they have weeks of sold-out bookings, alongside a big conference or event.

3. Best-price promises

Guarantee that you will match the best price, even if a customer finds a better price after they purchase. The magic here is that the customer feels comfort and safety in making their purchase. And it allows the retailer to charge a reasonable price, because the customer feels the safety in buying at the higher price and is unlikely to come back seeking a lower price later on.

4. Odd locations

This is a little bit risky, but when it works, it has a big payoff. Locating in the strip mall makes it convenient for customers to shop, but the experience is generic. Some of the most successful stores are off the beaten path. They may be in a warehouse in an industrial park, or in a barn 20 miles out of town. The venue is cool and unexpected, the experience is unique and the customer can't roam off to other businesses. Do this one right and it can be a huge opportunity to make money.

5. Events

Sell pots and pans? Invite customers in to cook, and they leave with a new set of pots and pans. You charge for the entire event and the products you sell. It is a memorable experience, not just a transaction. People pay a premium for that. If you make it memorable enough, people will buy more souvenirs to remember the event.

6. The story

Instead of just selling products, more retailers are sharing the story behind their product. Include the history of the item, the story of who invented it and pictures of the person who made it. This brings the product to life and makes the perceived value much higher.

7. Subscription plan

It has been done for CDs, wine and jellies. But unexpected categories are also having wild success with subscription plans. Check out ShoeDazzle.com. Every month, a new pair of shoes shows up. Try it for potato chips, Christmas ornaments, jeans, watches, furniture—you name it.

Small retailers can increase sales. It’s a matter of finding a tried-and-true method for doing so, and sticking with it. Give these suggestions a try and see which one works for you.