Monday, December 30, 2013

Year-End Sales Tips For Retailers

The holidays might be over, but this doesn't mean retailers should go back to their 'normal' business operations just yet. With millions of consumers loaded with gift cards, extra spending cash, and time off from work, the week leading up to the new year is a prime shopping time. If you own or manage a retail store, you can boost your sales and profits by offering year-end sales. For some helpful tips on how to perform effective year-end retail promotions, keep reading.

Mark Down Seasonal Items

With a new year on the horizon, there's no better time than now to mark down seasonal products (fall/winter clothes and products). Allowing these products to crowd space in your store will only hurt you in the long run. If you're having trouble selling certain fall and/or winter products, try marketing them down to encourage more sales. Even if customers aren't actively looking for a specific fall or winter product, the steep discount might be too enticing for them to pass up.

Bring In Warm-Weather Clothes

If you run a retail apparel store, you should start bringing in warm-weather clothes around the new year. While the spring season is still several months away, you can count on early-bird shoppers looking for new warm-weather clothes. Selling these clothes just a little bit early will give you a head start on other retailers, essentially snatching up sales from your competitors. In addition, you'll have a better understanding for the demand of certain clothes before the full spring/summer rush gets here.

Mark Down Holiday-Related Products

Unfortunately, it's highly unlikely that retailers will sell holiday-related good and products at full price. Now that Thanksgiving and Christmas are behind us, customers are no longer shopping for holiday-related items. The good news is that you can still push leftover inventory; you just need to mark it down so customers feel like they are getting an amazing deal. Marking down holiday-related products 50, 60 or even 70% is perfectly fine, as it allows you to move product out of your store while generating some revenue in the process.

If you're going to mark down products for a year-end sale, make sure you spread the word so customers know about it. You can send out emails (assuming you have past customers' email addresses), run commercials, advertise on billboards, etc.

Friday, December 27, 2013

4 Easy Ways To Reduce Retail Inventory Shrinkage

Retail inventory shrinkage is defined as the loss of product between the manufacturer/supplier and the point of sale. Retail stores must acknowledge, track and deal with shrinkage to prevent it from cutting into their profits. Allowing it to grow out of control can dampen a store's profits. In fact, many stores have been forced to close their doors in the past due to high shrinkage. To prevent this from happening to YOUR store, check out the 5 tips listed below on how to reduce retail inventory shrinkage.

#1) Display Products Correctly

Ever notice a product tucked deep behind or underneath a shelving unit in your store? Whether it's a perishable food product or not, allowing it to sit in the dusty, dirty area behind a shelving unit will ruin an otherwise perfect product; thus, contributing to your store's inventory shrinkage. Owners can protect themselves against instances such as this by displaying product on premium gondola shelves, gridwall, slatwall, rolling racks, etc. Taking the time to display your store's products correctly will naturally reduce inventory shrinkage.

#2) Shoplifting

It's not something most retail businesses want to think about, but shoplifting is a serious concern that can greatly eat into your profits. And since it technically occurs between the manufacturer/supplier and the point of sale, it's part of shrinkage. Each year, U.S. businesses lose billions of dollars from shoplifting, which is why it's important to take preventive measures in your store. Installing security cameras, dye tags, alarms and security mirrors are just a few measures which are sure to help reduce theft.

#3) Employee Theft

Theft doesn't occur only from customers; unfortunately, employees statistically steal more product that customers. Each time an employee steals an item, it adds to your store's shrinkage. Even small items and products gradually build up to create a financial burden for retail stores.

So, what steps can retail stores take to reduce the chance of employee theft? The first line of defense is to hire trustworthy, reputable, experienced employees to run your store. I'm sure this is common sense to most people, but you shouldn't hire employees whom you don't trust. Owners can also install video monitoring systems in their storage rooms to prevent theft.

#4) Move Perishables Fast

One of the most common contributing factors of retail inventory shrinkage is from spoiled perishables. If your store sells perishable food and/or beverages, make sure your employees are trained to move it as fast as possible. Don't just place it in some obscure part of your store where customers can't easily find it, but instead keep it out in the open with signs, banners or other promotional material drawing attention to it.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Tips For Retail Success In a Crowded Marketplace

There are both advantages and disadvantages of trying to muscle your retail business into a crowded marketplace. Lots of competition means the market is popular and in high-demand, which translates into sales for businesses in this industry. However, too much competition can make it difficult (if not impossible) for new businesses to succeed. Crowded marketplaces essentially reduce the market share available for businesses. If you're thinking about tackling a crowded marketplace with your retail business, keep reading for some important tips on how to succeed.

Offer More Product Choices

One way retail businesses can set themselves apart from their competitors is by offering a greater amount of product choices. Rather than limiting your store's inventory to a particular line or niche, perhaps you could branch out into other avenues. By offering customers more products to choose from, you'll naturally attract customers who wouldn't 'normally' visit your store. This is a simple yet highly effective way to help your retail stores succeed in a crowded marketplace.

It's important to note, however, that more product choices translates into more space. Once you start filling up your store's shelves with new product, you may find yourself struggling to display all of your inventory. Be sure to check out the solutions offered at, including wall unit shelving, gondolas, and much, much more.

Offer Better Prices

Of course, you're bound to attract more customers by offering lower prices than your competitors. If a competing store across town is selling the same pair of jeans in your store for $40 bucks, you should try to trump their prices by selling the same jeans for $30-$35. Although your profit margins will be smaller on this product, you'll pull shoppers away from your competitors and into your store, making it well worth the cost in the long run.

Market Your Retail Store

Even if your store offers better choices and prices than your competitors, most people won' know this until they actually visit your store. So, how do you get them to initially visit your store? Rather than waiting around 'hoping' that customers walk into you store, you should actively spread the word through any all promotional means necessary. This may include social media, television commercials, radio commercials, mail adverts, billboards, etc. Just remember to track your marketing campaigns so you know which ones are helpful in driving more customers, and which ones are simply a waste of money.

Friday, December 20, 2013

How To Greet Customers In The Retail Industry

Greeting customers when they first step foot into a retail store is key to winning their loyalty. A simple greeting lays the foundation for a positive shopping experience, and it's one of the many ways retail stores can set themselves apart from their competitors. If a customer is greeted with by a friendly employee in one store and completely ignored in a second store, which store do you think they'll return to in the future? Chances are they'll go back to the store that greeted them. This is just one reason why you retail stores and businesses should emphasize the importance of greeting shoppers.

Know When a Shopper Enters Your Store

You can't expect to greet each and every shopper unless you know when they enter your store. One technique that works in retail stores is to place a small bell either at the top or bottom of the door. When a customer walks through the door, the bell will jingle to notify employees of their presence. A basic bell can be purchased for a bout a $1 or $2 bucks, making this an inexpensive 'alarm' to help you greet shoppers.

Of course, you could also install an electronic alarm system. Each time the door is opened, the system emits a low 'beeping' noise. If you're interested in installing one of these in your retail store, contact your security monitoring company to see what they offer. Most big-name security monitoring companies (and even some of the smaller ones) will gladly install a door alarm such as this.

What Should I Say To Customers?

There really isn't a particular phrase that employees must use when greeting customers in a retail store. Some companies focus on basic greetings like "Hello, how are you doing today?," while others greet shoppers with a longer phrase like "Welcome to [insert store name here]. Is there anything I can help you find today?" Both of these examples are perfectly fine for just about any type of retail store or business. They help to acknowledge the customer in a friendly, positive manner.

Customer Greeting Tips:

  • Watch your tone! Greeting customers in an aggressive and/or unfriendly tone sends the wrong message.
  • Don't be pushy. If a customer doesn't need or want assistance, let them browse in peace.
  • Stick with shirt, concise greetings.
  • Make sure your store's employees are trained to greet customers following your guidelines.
  • Don't forget to tell customers "Goodbye. Thanks for coming" when they leave.

Monday, December 16, 2013

How To Identify The Target Market For a Retail Business

One of the biggest mistakes new retail business owners make is blindly opening a store without researching their target market. Unless you know this information, you won't be able to make educated decisions on marketing, location and store setup, which in turn increases your chances of failure. Launching a successful retail business is no easy task, but you can increases your chances of success by identifying your target market. But what exactly is the target market? And how can you use this to your advantage? To learn the answers to these questions and more, keep reading.

There are some general questions you should ask yourself to better identify your target market. While you may already know the answers to some of these questions, you may need to do a little digging to find the rest. Here's a short list of some questions to help you identify your retail business's target market:
  • What age group typically buys my store's product?
  • Are customers mostly male, female, or mixed?
  • Where do my customers typically come from? Are they local? Or do they travel from a nearby city? Tip: ask for customers zip codes when they check out to determine this information.
  • How many customers come back for future purchases?
  • What are some of the social characteristics of my customers?
  • What about the marital status of my customers?
  • What is their typical education level?

How To Use This Information

Acquiring some (or all) of the information listed above will help you make smarter professional decisions when running your retail business. Once you've identified your target market, you can then shift your focus towards the main group of people who purchase your store's products. For instance, radio and television stations offer their demographic data to potential advertisers. Running either a radio or television commercial on a station with a demographic that matches your store's target market will offer the greatest return on your investment.

You can also use this information to choose new products for your store. Let's say you own a retail fashion boutique that sells mostly to females between the ages of 21-28. You could contact some distributors to see if you can get trendy new apparel and accessories that young women would likely purchase.

Now for the question that's likely burning a hold in your mind -- how do I gather target market data on my retail store? There are several different ways to gather this information, one of which is through the site; you simply enter your zip code and the website reveals tons of useful data for that particular location.

Friday, December 13, 2013

5 Common Retail Customer Service Mistakes To Avoid

Customer service plays a direct role in the success of a retail store. Businesses that overlook or underestimate this element will suffer from fewer customers and ultimately lower sales. Whether your store sells sporting goods, apparel, jewelry, electronics, groceries or practically any other consumer product, you need to focus on your customers' needs. In this post, we're going to reveal some of the most common customer service mistakes made in retail and why you should avoid them.

Mistake #1) Not Greeting Shoppers

Arguably, the single most common customer service mistake retail stores make is not greeting shoppers when they first enter. It only takes a few seconds to greet shoppers, and doing so leaves a lasting impression. A simple "Hello, how are you today?" will set your store apart your competitors. Retail store owners should train their employees to greet each shopper who walks into the store.

Mistake #2) Not Helping Customers Find Product

A second all-too-common mistake is not helping customers find product. If a customer is browsing through a rolling rack of shirts, pants or other apparel items, perhaps you could ask them if they need assistance locating a specific size. You can even go one step further by bringing the customer several different sizes just in case the one they requested doesn't fit.

Mistake #3) Bad Attitude

Of course, bad attitude is another customer service mistake that should be avoided in the retail industry. I think we've all been guilty of showing up to work with a general negativity, but retail employees must put on a 'happy' face to send a positive message to customers. Workers who constantly perform their duties with a bad attitude will spread negativity to other employees and customers.

Mistake #4) Bad Return Policy

A retail store's return policy goes hand in hand with customer service. Stores with a large "ALL SALES FINAL!" sign probably won't win over the hearts of their customers. Sure, it takes time and energy to restock items that customers have returned, but it's well worth it in the end. Allowing customers to return products within a reasonable time frame will keep them coming back to your store for future purchases.

Mistake #5) Always Saying "No"

Employees should be trained to avoid using the word "no" in correspondence with customers. If a customer asks if you have a jacket in a certain size, perhaps you could tell them that while it's currently not in stock, you can order it for them. There are times when employees must use the word "no," but it's important to focus on "yes, we can" instead.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Thinking About Renovating Your Store? Read This First.

Renovating a retail store or business is a big project that shouldn't be taken lightly. Hastily jumping into a major renovation without first planning ahead could result in your store being shut down for days or even weeks. And this translates into a loss or sales and profits. Whether you plan on performing a small or large renovation, however, there are some things you should know to make the process smoother.

Are Renovations Allowed?

If you are currently leasing a store (which most business owners do), you'll want to talk with the owner to find out whether or not renovations are allowed. Some property owners may allow minor renovations, such painting and constructing new fixtures, while prohibiting major renovations. Other the property owners may allow all types of renovations -- as long as you get prior approval. It only takes a couple of minutes to call up the property owner and ask them.

Renovating a store without the owner's permission could result in your lease being terminated (and possibly monetary compensation to reverse the renovations).

Which Walls are Load-Bearing?

Are you familiar with your store's blueprints? If not, you should pull them out to locate the load-bearing walls. Just as the name suggests, these walls are critical to the structural integrity of the building, and tearing them down creates a serious hazard for workers and shoppers alike. You can usually identify which walls are load-bearing and which ones are partition by looking at the blueprints. If you want to tear down a load-bearing wall, you'll have to shut down your store and hire a professional architect to create a new load-bearing wall and supporting structure.

How Much Will It Cost?

Of course, budget plays a big role in store renovations. While there's no way to determine exactly how much a renovation will cost, you perform an estimation based on materials and labor expenses. Sit down and decide how much you are willing to spend on the renovation, and then estimate your total cost. You may also be able to get price estimations from professional contractors.

Create a Plan

You can't expect to have a smooth store renovation without a clear plan of attack. Perhaps you want to install new flooring in your store. If so, plan the type of flooring, who's going to install it, where the installation process will take place, etc. Planning ahead will reduce the chance of unforeseen 'mishaps' while ensuring the process goes more smoothly.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Workplace Safety 101: How To Create a Safe Working Environment

Safety should be a top priority for all retail stores and businesses. While the rate of work-related injuries in retail is low compared to industrial businesses, it's still something that needs to be addressed.  Allowing your employees to work around common hazards and dangers creates an entirely new set of problems for your business. In this post, we're going to reveal the true costs of work-related accidents, along with some safety tips for retail businesses.

Direct vs Indirect Costs of Work-Related Injuries

When a worker is injured on the job, the company must pay for both direct and indirect costs. Direct costs include 'obvious' things like medical bills, lost wages, and broken equipment. These costs alone can place a heavy financial burden on a company, especially new companies trying to lay the foundation for their success; however, it's the indirect costs which really hurt a company's wallet. Here's a short list of some of the most common indirect costs of work-related injuries:
  • Lower productivity
  • Higher insurance premiums
  • Resources spent hiring and training new employees
  • Reduced employee morale
  • Purchase new safety equipment
  • Lawsuits
  • OSHA fines and sanctions

Common Types of Work-Related Injuries

As you can see, work-related injuries negatively affect businesses in several different ways. Educating yourself on some of the most common types of work-related injuries, however, will help you prevent them. The single most common injury in the workplace is a same-level fall. This occurs when an employee falls (whether they slip or simply lose balance) on the same level. In the retail industry, same-level falls are a real concern that businesses should be aware of.

Another all-too-common type of work-related injury is overexertion. Just as the name suggests, this occurs when an employee pushes themselves beyond their physical limit. Pulled and/or strained muscles fall under the category of overexertion.

Tips For Creating a Safe Working Environment

  • Create a safety bulletin board with key information about potential workplace hazards.
  • Train your employees on the proper way to lift boxes and use equipment.
  • Lay out non-slip rugs in areas where slip-and-fall accidents are common.
  • Perform routine safety audits to identify new workplace hazards.
  • Listen to your employees to see what safety issues concern them.

5 Tips To Become a Better Retail Salesperson

Mastering the art of retail sales takes take, experience, dedication and the desire to succeed. Far too many people jump into this profession without realizing what all it entitles. Anyone can show up to work and go through the movements, but it takes a true salesperson to encourage a customer to buy an item they otherwise wouldn't have purchased. Whether you're looking to get your foot in the door as a retail salesperson or to improve your numbers, check out the 5 tips below.

Tip #1) Start At The Door

If you aren't greeting each and every customer who comes through the door, you're missing out on a simple yet highly effective way to pre-sell. When a customer walks into the store, greet them with a friendly “Hello, how are you going today?” And then you can offer assistance to help them find a particular product or item. Numerous studies have revealed that customers are more likely to purchase from the first salesperson who greets them, so make sure it's YOU.

Tip #2) Go Beyond The Call of Duty

What does this mean exactly? A retail salesperson can go above and beyond the call of duty in a number of different ways. The key thing to remember is that you want to exceed your customers' expectations. If a customer asks a salesperson for a pair of shoes in a particular size, perhaps the salesperson could bring out several different sizes just in case. This extra effort really leaves a positive impression on customers.

Tip #3) Think Like The Customer

Try to place yourself in the customer's shoes and ask yourself – what am I trying to accomplish by shopping here? Some customers shop for the sole purpose of finding good deals; if this is the case, show the customer some excellent sales and promotions currently going on. Other customers may be on the lookout for a newly recent product, which you can help them locate.

Tip #4) Speed It Up!

Let's face it, shoppers don't want to wait around for a slow salesperson to walk them around the store. If you want to improve your numbers, you have to work at a relatively fast pace. This is beneficial for several different reasons; it keeps customers happy, and you can move them through the store in less time.

Tip #5) Listen

One of the biggest mistakes employees make in retail sales is talking to their customers too much. Rather than jabbering away about products, service plans, etc., sit back and listen to your customers.