By Janet Attard
The holiday shopping season has started. The shoppers are looking in your windows, walking in your doors and making purchases. Nevertheless you could be losing sales every time a customer walks out the door. Here's why—and what you can do about it.
Your sales associates aren't suggesting related products to buy
Your customers have many, varied needs. The woman who buys a sweater for her daughter as a holiday gift may be planning to buy a skirt to go with it, or need a present to give a co-worker. The man who buys a necklace for his wife may never think about buying a matching earrings or bracelet unless one of your associates suggests it. And what person who buys toys or electronic products can't use batteries? Making those suggestions can boost the size of your average sale—and your profits without costing you one penny more in advertising expense.
You don't put impulse-buy items near the sales counter
People get fidgety waiting in line to have their purchases rung up. Capitalize on their desire to look at anything other than the line of people ahead of them by putting small impulse items on display near the checkout line.
You don't capture the customer's name
The customer who buys from you today may well need similar items in the future. But they won't buy from you a second time unless they remember your name and what you sell. Don't rely on advertising alone to help those new customers become repeat customers. Instead, make an effort now to capture their names and addresses. Among the ways: ask shoppers to sign up for a mailing list (and use it to announce special sales), or run a contest and capture the names and addresses from the contest entry forms. Tip: with more and more people using the Internet, be sure to have a spot on your signup forms for email addresses.
You don't give the customer alternate ways to make a purchase
Suppose a new customer rushes into your shop on their lunch hour. They see a few items they might buy, but they look at their watch and realize they don't have time to purchase them now. So, they put them back and walk out. Will they come back? Maybe not. If you have a Web site or 800 number help them make that purchase by publicizing the phone number or URL in your shop. Have fliers on the counter or near the door that people can take with them so they know where to place an order if they can't get back to your shop.
You don't follow up after the initial sale
Satisfied customers are your best prospect for new sales. But you won't bring in as much repeat business as you could if you don't keep in touch with your customers. Try to send your customers a mailing once a month or once every other month at minimum. Send out coupons, send out notices of special sales, catalogs, announcements (for instance, when you do get that Web site set up) or newsletters. But whatever you do, keep in touch with frequent reminders about the many goodies your store offers for their shopping pleasure all year long.
About the Author
Janet Attard is the founder and CEO of www.BusinessKnowHow.com , a popular small business Web site that provides ideas and strategies for growing a business and making it profitable. The site attracts 3 million visitors a year, contains thousands of free articles about sales, marketing, internet marketing, business finance, ecommerce and all phases of starting and growing small and home businesses. Janet is a small and home business expert and has authored several books for business owners and startups. Visit Business Know-How and sign up for their free newsletter at www.BusinessKnowHow.com.