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Retailers, boost sales with these five strategies

Twenty-twelve is shaping up as another tough year for retailers, so businesses in the sector should look at implementing these five strategies now to encourage customers to buy from them more often.

Retail businesses need a strategy to deal with the tough economic environment, RSM Bird Cameron national head of business solutions Andrew Graham says, and it shouldn’t rely on factors out of their control, like interest rates.

Business owners also need to review current revenue streams, identify ways to expand and become “problem solvers” in the eyes of customers to attract and retain custom and build loyalty.

“It can cost up to six times more to win a new customer than it does to have an existing customer purchase again. This is because you invested time and money to acquire that customer for the first sale, but every additional sale after that involves very little cost…” Graham said.

Here are five strategies to boost sales by encouraging customers to buy more often.

1. Classify them. Classify your customer base into tiers to make sure the right customers keep coming back. By classifying your customer base you will be able to better target your marketing messages and focus on your most preferred customer type. As a result you will have a much more effective sales strategy.

2. Ask your customers to return. The easiest way to get customers to return is to simply ask them to come back yet many businesses don’t take the time to encourage their customers to return.

Research shows that 68 percent of customers who leave you for your competitor do so because of ‘perceived indifference’. That is, your former customers didn’t feel that you valued them or showed any interest in whether they bought from you again or not.

Once a customer is delighted with a product or service, they want to continue the relationship.  Making them feel important and valued gives them the incentive to do just that.

3. Provide awesome service. Offer a level of service that goes above and beyond what they expect from you. Poor service is the norm in so many industries that if you demonstrate an absolute commitment to customer service, you will be miles in front of your competition.

Make sure your team is trained so they can deliver on the promise consistently and effectively.

4. Nurture your customers. Nurturing your relationships with your customers is the most cost-effective way to make them feel valued and motivated to keep buying from you. The more you stay in touch with them, the more likely they are to remember you.

Systemise the follow up process to make sure that it happens consistently. Too often businesses leave the follow up process to chance, with the inevitable result that it just doesn’t get done.

5. Make effective use of customer comments. One way to let your customers know that you are interested in them and their opinion is to ask for feedback. This is something most businesses just don’t bother with so it is an obvious opportunity for you to develop another point of difference with your competitors.

When you make the effort to gather feedback, and the customer has made the effort to give it to you, don’t waste it. Use the information to continually improve the way you do business, turn positive comments into referrals and testimonials and let customers know that their suggestions are being used.

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Lorna Brett

Lorna Brett

Lorna was Dynamic Business’ Social Web Editor in 2011/12. She’s a social media obsessed journalist, who has a passion for small business. Outside the 9 to 5, you’re likely to find her trawling the web for online bargains, perfecting her amateur photography skills or enjoying one too many cappucinos. You can follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/dynamicbusiness">Twitter @DynamicBusiness</a>

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