How to Boost Sales with Suggestive Selling

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boost sales with suggestive sellingSuggestive selling is one of retail’s greatest strategies. Shoppers are already through the doors, they found something they like or need, and suggestive selling gives you the opportunity to boost sales, increase ticket size, and encourage the shopper to walk away smiling with even more of your great products and services.

Are You Managing Labor Effectively?

Before you can implement a successful suggestive selling strategy, it’s important to have your store properly staffed. Nothing frustrates customers quite as much as wasting their valuable time waiting for assistance.

One way to ensure you have your store properly staffed, is to schedule employees according to the amount of foot traffic you’ve projected your store will receive. Installing people counters, sometimes called customer counters, is the best way to gather the data you need to make your customer foot traffic forecasts. Arming yourself with a solid understanding of when your business is its busiest and its slowest will help you adequately schedule staff and ensure customers are given the best service possible. When your customers feel appreciated and valued, they’ll be in a positive mood, setting the stage for suggestive selling.

Be Genuine When Offering to Help Customers

Let’s be honest — shoppers can spot a phony upsell a mile away. They know when your sales staff is just trying to earn a commission versus really trying to understand and serve customers. Instead of spouting off the same canned upselling and cross-selling lines, train your staff to listen to customers and determine exactly what they’re looking for and to customize suggestive selling approaches to individual shoppers. Your customers will appreciate your staff taking the time to truly serve them instead of just “phoning it in.”

Make Relevant Suggestions

One mistake retailers can make with suggestive selling is to push products or services that are of no interest to the intended consumer. Imagine the awkwardness of a sales associate recommending a buy-one-get-one deal on bath towels when the customer is only interested in new fashion arrivals. Relevant suggestive selling recommendations are more likely to be well received and to result in upsell. Store staff should pay attention to the kinds of items the shopper is already purchasing. For example, if she has a trendy new blouse in hand, she might want to know about a scarf or necklace that complements the top and completes the look. Or the customer buying the latest tablet PC likely will be receptive to hearing about useful peripherals and accessories, such as a printer, wireless keyboard or stand, which will help him get the most out of his cool new device. When suggestions are relevant, you open your customers’ minds to new possibilities while keeping the focus on helping them to have everything they need to be satisfied with their purchase. Customers get better, more comprehensive products and experiences — while you get bigger sales.

Are you getting the most out of your suggestive selling techniques? When your staff cross-sells and upsells efficiently, expect your sales to rise — and your customers to return for more great shopping experiences.

How Understanding Shopper Counting Can Improve the Customer Experience

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shopper countingGiving your shoppers a high-quality and highly enjoyable shopping experience is the key to ensuring that they visit your business again. Shopper counting and understanding how foot traffic moves and flows through your store can help you drastically improve your customers’ experience.

1. Display Promotions

Using people counters in separate sections of your store allows you to count how many people visit each area per day and, on a larger scale, per week, per month, and per year. This data can very easily help you to identify peak times of the year, month, week, and day for each section of your store.

With this information in mind, you will be able to determine which areas of your store are ideal for displaying promotional items. When you know which entrances and sections of your store receive the most foot traffic, you can strategically place your promotional displays where you know the highest number of people will see them.

2. Create Timed Promotions for Peak Visitor Times

You will also be able to identify which times of the year, month, week, and day your promotions would be the most successful. With your shopper counting data in mind, plan out your promotions ahead of time. If you get more traffic during the holidays, prepare a promotion for that time of the year. If you get a lunch rush, have daily lunch promotions. If you get more people in your establishment on the weekends, plan weekend promotions.

Depending on your business and customers, peak times are going to vary due to each business’s unique needs.  Placing people counters within your establishment will help you determine what your business’s unique peak times are.

3. Increase Staffing During Peak Times

Short staffing is a pain for everyone involved. A customer who has had difficulty finding help on your sales floor is going to be an unhappy customer. When you’re short staffing during peak times, this is going to be a big issue. One or two people can’t be everywhere at once.

It’s easy to predict these peak times and schedule more efficiently when you understand shopper counting. With people counters installed, you will be able to determine the peak times during the week and day during which may need to schedule a few more staff members. Preparing for peak times like this will assist you in reducing the number of unhappy customers that walk out your door and increase the number of satisfied customers that will bring you their return business.

4. Measure Conversion Rates to Determine Promotion Effectiveness

Without data provided by shopper counting, it is difficult to accurately measure conversion rates in order to determine the effectiveness of your promotions. However, with the data that people counters provide your business, you can compare the number of people who entered your store to the number of sales you made within the time frame of your promotion. In doing so, you will be able to easily and accurately identify how successful your promotion was.

Improving your customers’ experience is vital to the success of your business. Shopper counting enables you to do so through identifying trends and peak traffic times.

How People Counting Systems Can Help in the Store Selection Process

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people counting systemsAre you a business owner looking to expand? Selecting a location can be a tedious, painful, and stressful experience. Choosing the right location for your business can be a nightmare.  However, many business owners overlook the benefit that people counting systems can bring when choosing a location.

What are people counting systems?

People counting systems are systems that allow you to view how many people enter and exit your store. There are also counters available that, when placed in separate areas of your establishment, can tell you which areas of your store are the busiest and which receive the lease amount of foot traffic. That’s not all, though. People counters can reveal your daily, weekly, and seasonal trends, as well as which of your promotions are the most successful. They can even help you to determine if the layout of your store is as effective as it could be.

How can people counting systems help you choose a location?

Chances are, when searching for a new location, you’re going to want to find one that has a high number of people moving through it all the time. High foot traffic means a higher chance for increasing your customer base and is definitely something you should consider when looking at a new location.

Some realtors and landlords are willing to share the traffic count of the location that you are interested in. However, you may also find that others are not so straightforward in presenting you with traffic flow data.  They may tell you that traffic counting systems are expensive and they cannot afford to place one at, or near, the entrance of the location due to the prohibitive cost. However, there are less expensive traffic counting options available on the market.

What happens when a realtor or landlord refuses to share the location’s traffic count?

When a realtor or landlord refuses to share the location’s traffic count with you, you should view it as a red flag. A landlord or realtor withholding information usually means that they have something to hide. If there is something to hide, then chances are you should know about it before purchasing a location or signing a lease.

In the event that you do not have traffic count information readily available, you can take matters into your own hands.  For example, some retailers seeking traffic count information for a new location have hired teenagers to enter malls and count the number of shoppers. Usually these teens spend three or four days at an establishment counting shoppers.  The teenagers look not only at the number of people passing, but also analyze how many of them are carrying shopping bags from neighboring stores. This additional information can reveal what prospective sales in that location would be like.

Traffic counting systems can help the business owner determine a new location. Traffic flow information is vital to predicting what sort of foot traffic you will have through your store. The higher the foot traffic, the better your prospective sales. Taking the time to find out what the traffic flow through a location is like before purchase is well worth the effort and the time.

Retail Counting Systems: Understanding Technology Options before You Purchase

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Retail Counting SystemsRetail counting systems collect invaluable information for your establishment. If you are a business owner looking to install a retail counting system within your store, you have several options to choose from. However, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each option against your business’s needs.

Keep your facility in mind as you scroll down through the various options. Do you have wide entrances? Do you have high-density traffic flowing through your store? What types of doors do you have at your entrances? Swinging? Spinning? All of this is going to make a difference when you decide which retail counting system is optimal for you.

1. Horizontal Wired/Wireless Retail Counting Systems

There are a variety of horizontal wired and wireless retail counting systems available. A horizontal retail counting system is installed in your store’s entrances and casts a horizontal infrared beam across the doorway.

Pros for these Horizontal Retail Counting Systems:

  • They are quick and easy to install
  • They are less pricey than their overhead retail counting system counterparts
  • Wireless options have a lithium battery that can last up to two years

Cons for the Horizontal Retail Counting Systems:

  • Limited directional counts
  • If you have wide entrances and a high density of people moving through them, these horizontal beams lose a great deal of accuracy
  • May potentially become blocked by people standing in entrances or entrance displays
  • Cannot distinguish between customers who are entering and customers who are leaving

Horizontal retail counting systems are ideal for small businesses with narrow doorways and low traffic density. They are an affordable option that will allow business owners to make better informed business decisions.

2. Overhead Retail Counting Systems

If you are looking for a little more functionality in your retail counting system, consider overhead sensors. Overhead retail counting systems are mounted on the ceiling of your facility anywhere you please. You can use them to determine how many people are coming through your entrances and when.

Pros for the Overhead Retail Counting Systems:

Thermal Overhead Sensors:

  • These sensors gather multi-directional information
  • They are not affected by ambient lighting
  • They can count in complete darkness
  • Over 98% accuracy rate
  • Able to cover wide entrances
  • Wireless ranges can be extended with repeaters

Video-Based Overhead Sensors:

  • Able to handle wide areas with multiple units
  • Upgradeable software
  • Supports remote video capture for accuracy
  • Data is safely stored in the event of a power outage
  • Adjusts to changes in lighting, and temperature
  • Filters carts, children, and strollers
  • Flash memory stores up to 10 days of data

Cons for Overhead Retail Counting Systems

Thermal Overhead Sensors:

  • Costlier than other systems
  • Lower field of vision than video systems
  • Affected by external weather conditions
  • Takes a good amount of training to use properly

Video-Based Overhead Sensors:

  • Costlier than infrared bream systems
  • Lower lifetime and higher power use than thermal systems
  • May require PCs that are not fully embedded
  • Complex installation
  • Counting accuracy can be affected by shadows, background, and varying levels of light

Overhead sensors are ideal for business owners who are looking to invest in a retail counting solution that will bring them a bountiful ROI. These systems will ensure that you have the counting accuracy that you need to make the best possible business decisions regarding your store layout and labor scheduling.

Whatever your business needs are, knowing your facility, your budget, and the options available to you will allow you to choose the correct retail counting system solution.

How Understanding Retail Store Traffic Flow Can Improve Conversion

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Retail store trafficUse Store Traffic Data To Make Well-Informed Decisions

The layout of your store has an immediate effect on your shoppers – your retail store’s layout determines the way that traffic flows through your establishment. The better you understand retail store traffic, the more effective your store layout will be. Additionally, research indicates that stores that are laid out well have an increase in sales conversions.

People counters are instrumental in determining the strengths and weaknesses of your store layout. The data that people counters collect will allow you to comprehend your retail store traffic on a higher level and allow you to make better-informed informed business decisions.

How many people are entering your store?

People counters placed at your store entrances will not only tell you how many people are entering your establishment, they will also indicate which hours of the day, days of the week, and times of year that your store is busiest. This information will allow you to more efficiently schedule your employees.  Knowing which entrances are most commonly used by your shoppers will also help you to plan out your entrance displays strategically.

Which entrances are they using?

Remember, you’re not going to want to place all of your store promotional information at the busiest entrance of the store. Customers need a moment to adjust to your store’s atmosphere. Entrance displays should consist of reasonably priced items so customers aren’t immediately discouraged by the impression that your store may cost them an arm and a leg.

How successful are your promotions? Where should you place them?

The direction of your retail store traffic affects how successful in-store promotions are. People counters placed within each section of your establishment will show you hot and cold spots within your store.  Promotions placed in retail hot-spots tend to be more successful than those placed in spots that don’t have the same high level of traffic.

How can you use this information to improve the layout of your store and increase sales conversions?

Understanding your store’s flow of traffic will allow you to improve your store layout and ultimately your conversion rate. There are a few key things that are vital to take into consideration when thinking about your store’s layout.

  • 90% of people are right-handed, which also means they are right-footed. When people enter your store, they are more likely to turn right and work their way around your establishment in a counter-clockwise fashion.
  • Aisle width: Wide aisles encourage customers to power-walk through them to their intended destination. Narrow aisles encourage customer browsing and will increase impulse buys.
  • However, extremely narrow aisles may get clogged and will make customers exit your store. It is important to find a balance that fits your available space.  Narrow aisles could also difficult for people counters to properly count customers.
  • High traffic areas and low traffic areas: Promotions will be most successful in high traffic areas of your establishment. Consider placing high-profit items in busy areas and high demand items in low retail store traffic areas, such as at the back of your store. This will help draw customers all the way through your establishment. A greater number of sales associates available to assist customers may be required in these high traffic areas as well.

People counters will assist you in understanding retail store traffic in your establishment. Once you have a better understanding of how the retail store traffic flows through your establishment, you will be in a better position to make well-informed business decisions. These well-informed business decisions will lead to an increase in your sale conversion rates.

How a Retail Traffic Counter Can Improve Customer Service

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Retail traffic counterCustomer service is one of the top factors people consider when they decide whether or not to visit your store. The RightNow Customer Experience Impact Report notes that “89% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service.” A second statistic, from Parature, says that “it takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative experience.”

Tough competition

There’s more competition than ever before and the stakes have never been higher—it’s predicted that by 2016, Americans will spend over $325 billion online.  Online-only retailers are growing their market share leaps and bounds because they  don’t have the overhead of operating a B&M location and can offer rock-bottom prices on products delivered right to your door. This can be hard to resist, so stores are fighting back with improved loyalty plans, digital signage and omni-channel marketing.

The customer is still always right

Despite all of these technological advances, the customer is still king and it’s the face-to-face interaction in-store that will largely determine whether or a not a shopper returns. And as shoppers look to buy more and more products online, retailers are investing more resources to ensure that every customer service interaction is a good one.

Much of customer service begins with staffing and understanding the busiest times. You don’t want to be the retailer where the checkout lines are always long and people are frustrated because there’s no one on the floor to help them.

At its most basic level, retail traffic counters can tell retailers how many people are visiting the store and how long they are staying. Retailers may also employ these counters around the store to determine what the busiest departments are, and if more staff is needed at changing rooms.

Using a retail traffic counter helps to optimize a retailer’s staffing so there are enough employees on-hand during the busiest shifts and ensures you are not wasting money by having too many people on the floor during slower times.

Lost in Aisle 5

Another common complaint you may hear is that “I can never find anything!” If you have a retail traffic counter and you use it in conjunction with your point of sale system, you can identify what the hot selling items are and place those displays front and center so people aren’t wandering around aimlessly searching for a certain product.

Retail traffic counters can also determine what areas people are visiting  around the store and assist with the planning and resetting of displays. By evaluating the way people traverse your store, you can see which pathways are the most frequented, which areas are underutilized and where there may be issues like crowding.

Retail traffic counters help keep eyes on nearly every aspect of your retail store. Gathering these analytics can help you make the changes for a better, faster and more pleasant customer experience at your business.

Counting People Can Maximize Store Potential

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counting peopleCounting people can tell someone a lot about a business, especially when it comes to marketing and customer service. At the very basic level, you can assume that a store with a high or steady level of foot traffic must be doing something right: its advertising draws people in, shoppers know they can find what they are looking for, or the staff is knowledgeable and friendly.

The basics

Understanding why people continue to shop at a store comes back to counting people. You can ask customers to fill out surveys, but chances are that they won’t or you’ll only hear from someone when they have a bad experience. Counting people provides a larger view of the “how and why” customers choose where they shop.

Conversion rates and why they matter

Knowing your traffic counts can help you realize your store’s potential by calculating the store’s conversion rate. The conversion rate is the number of people who come into the store and buy something vs. the people who leave empty handed. These rates can be calculated by month, day, shift or hours so you can focus your efforts on the times that need more attention to raise the rate.

Counting people gives you the data you need to determine the conversion rate. For example, if your holiday spending is down but the foot traffic is the same, can it be correlated with a decrease in the marketing budget for that time of year? If so, restoring the marketing dollars to previous levels could help boost sales numbers.

Conversion rates can also tell you if your store is a target for showroomers. If you have a spike in the number of people coming to the store but not buying anything, it’s possible that people are coming to your store to see merchandise in person and then buying it online for less. If this is the case, you’re losing business and you need to act fast. Retailers that are the victims of showrooming have been implementing a more omni-channel type of approach.  This offers consumers the opportunity to buy items online and pick up in-store, adding the ability to see if the item is in-stock before heading to there in person.

Where can I find…

Traffic counters aren’t just for entrances and exits. Counting people in different areas of the store can give you important feedback about a store’s layout. Customer counters can give retailers insight into where the busier areas or departments are, what areas are overcrowded and what places could benefit from more staff. A traffic counter at the checkout can alert management when more staff should be sent to the front end.  Traffic counters at fitting rooms can also help these areas work more effectively, provide a higher level of customer service and reduce the opportunity for theft.

Test new ideas

A retailer can use its traffic counts to determine which products or promotions are working best, as well as how products and promotions should be featured in the future.  Customer counters can also help retailers optimize their stock levels for certain parts of the year.

Capture the Elusive Teenage Demographic with Customer Counters

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Beautiful young woman paying for her groceries at the counter ofTeenagers are as unpredictable as the weather—happy and sunny one hour and then clouding over with the storms the next. Teenagers are about as fickle as they come—much to the dismay of parents and teachers everywhere.

Retailers who cater to these consumers are equally baffled and have spent the last several years trying to figure out what teens want, how to communicate with this target audience and what price points are acceptable.

Teenagers are more aware

The teenage category has changed drastically over the last several years. These shoppers have grown up with technology and desire innovative, fresh ideas. They have Smartphones, iPads and iPods and they know (unlike me) how to use all of the buttons and features. Teens know exactly what they are looking for, what it costs and where to find it. They are not going to the mall to browse racks of clothes and try on endless piles of jeans– they have already gone online, shopped around, solicited opinions from their friends and made a decision.

This is bad news for traditional retail favorites like the GAP and Abercrombie & Fitch. Over the course of the last decade, it’s become more complicated to be a teen and dress a teen. If you remember dressing in head-to-toe Esprit and Aerospostale when you were in high school, you may be disappointed to hear that today’s teenagers are much more discerning. It’s no longer about the same brand for everything, now it’s all about mixing and matching to create an individual style.

Mainstays take a hit

Stores that used to be mainstays—Abercrombie & Fitch, Aerospostale and American Eagle, to name a few, are fending off some serious competition as new trends emerge.  “Fast fashion” stores like H&M, Forever 21 and Uniqlo, which specialize in taking pieces from the runway, reproducing them quickly and inexpensively and making them available to consumers, have gained a foothold. Traditional retailers haven’t been able to keep up with these changes, causing some industry observers to note than if they can’t adapt more quickly, they are going to lose their customer base permanently to those who can.

Further complicating the landscape is a shake-up at the top, where a lot of companies are seeing a change in leadership, switching out C-level executives for others and mixing things up the store level. Styles and fits that were flying off the shelves last year are no longer cutting it, so new products are being tested and stores themselves are being refreshed. As eCommerce gains momentum, teen retailers are also paying more attention to their websites and how items are marketed.

So how do we know what teens want?

Today’s teens are tech-savvy with disposable income—more than 29 percent live in homes where the average income is $100,000 are more. They are fascinated by gossip, photos and blogs and what celebrities wear helps dictate what teens want to buy. They may not be able to afford the designer gown Selena Gomez was wearing in a magazine, but a similar dress that’s available at H&M for a fraction of the price may fly off the shelves.

Tracking Teens’ Buying Habits Helps

One of the most effective ways for you to see if your marketing or product line is resonating with any target group is a traffic counting system or loyalty program. A loyalty program that is tied into the POS system will reward a shopper for their purchase and brand loyalty but also give you a goldmine of data you can use to evaluate your store’s performance. The data can tell you what your customers are buying, how often they are shopping and at what price point.

Sometimes it seems like teenage behavior is a mystery to almost everyone except teens themselves. Smart retailers should implement technology that will help them decipher teenagers’ buying habits, or they may possibly find themselves awash in stock they cannot sell and marketing campaigns that aren’t resonating.