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    Are you one of those business owners thinking of how to increase retail sales of your store? Are you also witnessing a slump in your top line while your competitors are making money? This blog is for you wherein you can get some of the key insights which can help you increase the footfall and the sales figures.

    The operating costs of running a brick and mortar store are already very high and with eCommerce disrupting this space, it becomes pertinent for retailers to stay in the game and come out with creative ways to increase retail sales.

    This blog post will provide you with some tricks and practices that can be implemented without much effort towards achieving improved sales performance of your business. These are time-tested practices focused on increasing sales in the retail business. Let’s get started.

    1. Trained and Knowledgeable Retail Staff

    As Richard Branson said: “Take care of your employees and they will take care of your business; it is as simple as that.” Your employees are your biggest assets and if they are groomed properly then you will see a lot of delighted customers at your store. If your employees are qualified and well-trained, your customers get a better shopping experience and the likelihood of their return gets higher. Thus, the employees must be equipped with all the necessary knowledge and skills required for them to excel in the performance of their duties and responsibilities. They must also be well-informed about the products and services of the store so that they could pitch better to the customers.

    This task could be made significantly easier with a well-planned recruitment strategy. The better the job analysis is, the better are the chances of hiring the right person.

    Apart from the experience and skill set, one also needs to have the zeal for what they do or would be doing. It is your responsibility as an owner to ensure that your team is passionate about their jobs which will translate to great customer experience.

    1. Looks Matter – Visual Merchandising

    Bill Gates once said: “If you can’t make it good, at least make it look good.” What one sees is what he buys. A customer walking in a market full of branded retail stores or walking into a swanky mall will not enter the store which is not appealing to his eyes. On the flip side, a store that has an attractive visual merchandising will entice the visitor to walk in and have a look. One can go for a cross-merchandising strategy for customers to match and buy more. Lighting should be well tuned to your products, soothing music in the background is always pleasing to ears, and multi-dimensional displays by tweaking the visual aspects of it are some of the tactics here which can be adopted to increase retail sales.

    By displaying products in a perfect combination increases your opportunity of upselling and cross-selling. The bottom line is you should do everything possible for customers to get a positive vibe from your store that they cannot help but check your store to see something worthy for them.

    1. Keep Playing with the Visuals

    Once you have set your visual merchandising, display and everything, it’s not over yet. Rather it is just the beginning, you have to keep playing with your visuals.  Try different combinations, keep experimenting and figure out what works the best for you. Visual creativity is a fancy tool to improve sales in retail. It is a general human tendency to get bored with the status quo and seek comfortable changes. Thus, you should keep your merchandize fresh and attractive with the new arrivals section to be the focal point.

    There is no one size fits all design and visuals which will work forever and thus as a retail business, you should evolve with time and adopt the latest trends. This is a litmus test for your visual merchandising skills and its upgradation will pull more footfalls into your store.

    1. Inventory Management

    You don’t want to be in a situation wherein you have to tell the customer that the product he is looking for is out of stock. If it happens too many times, even your loyal customers might shift sides. This is the last thing you would ever want to happen in a business. You should ensure that your store does not have to say no to customers because of poor retail merchandising and inventory management. Also, one should guard against the excess inventory to reduce the inventory holding cost. As a retailer, you should have active retail merchandising practices and a sound retail inventory management system in place. In a nutshell, if you want happy customers then identify the right products and keep them available.

    1. Smooth Check-out

    A smooth check-out is vital to ensure a seamless shopping experience for the customers. Time is money for people these days and if you are saving customers’ time then you are adding value to their time. No one likes waiting in a long queue to pay bills; it becomes frustrating for customers. And they might also drop the idea of visiting your store again despite all the plus points with your store but a smooth check-out. Under routine circumstances, an average of 6-8 minutes is a relatively long time for a customer to wait in a check-out queue post which he might begin to feel a bit frustrated.

    There are various ways to speed up the check-out operation. You can consider having additional counters in case of long queues or on holidays or special occasions. In certain cases, you can have a free delivery service for bulk purchases with the option of online payment. Also, you can have multiple payment options (retail POS system, Mobile Wallet, PayPal, etc.) at your billing counters to the convenience of the customers and to speed up the check-out.

    You should also contemplate going for the contactless payment (Samsung Pay, Apple Pay) at a time when internet and smartphone penetration is on an all-time high.

    1. Unmatched Customer Service

    The customer is the king, remember? Your company should provide excellent customer support to all the customers during and even after their buying journey. You should have a 24*7 customer care number to address all the queries and grievances of your customers. Also, routine grievances should be resolved within a reasonable time. Customer service is a key differentiator and can go a long way in customer retention. You can also think of chatbots for your website/app (if you have one) to communicate with a visitor who can be a potential customer. Personalized attention to customers enhances the credibility of your brand. Retail SOPs can play a big role in building a robust customer service platform.

    1.   Personalization Matters

    Everyone feels good when they are treated personally and the same is applied to retail customers.

    The on-the-floor communication between your sales team and your customers is the medium through which your customers get to know not just about your products and services but also your business’s seriousness about customer service and support. This communication here could be the make or break factor for generating a positive customer response and customer loyalty. A personalized (but not invasive) degree of communication could go a long way in making customers feel welcome.

    Different customers visit your store with different and unique requirements. A personalized approach will help your salespersons better understand and address your customers’ requirements.

    Remembering the tastes, preferences, and requirements of your frequent customers and ensuring the availability of such products in your store will help generate customer loyalty. Personalization in retail need not be a strategy but a part of the work culture.

    1. Rewards, Rewards, and more Rewards!!

    Rewards, by whatever name it is referred to, is a good marketing technique. In a perfectly competitive market, rewards become an addition to the offering. You can offer certain freebies to your loyal customers in the form of retail discounts and discount coupons, complimentary gifts, reward points for future purchases, loyalty programs, membership benefits, etc. Everyone feels good when they are offered something additional and useful.

    For instance, many departmental stores sell below the printed price which acts as a reward to their customers. Such cuts might hurt the profit margins but it is compensated by the volume of sales.

    1.   Go Digital!

    Digital presence has become a standard. You should make sure that people get to see your business online even if you do not run your business over the internet. The two most compelling reasons for this are – it will add value to your brand and more and more people will get to know about your business. With an increasing footprint of smartphones, internet, and online businesses, having a digital presence, even in a simple form like a local business listing makes your business visible to the online local audiences including your existing customers.

    But if you are serious about targeting a wider customer base that goes beyond your local limits, going digital is one of the most popular ways. Going online doesn’t mean that you shut your store and completely go online, rather it is advisable to run your business both on both online and offline formats – either multichannel or omnichannel.

    By going online, you are providing the option to your customers to order from the comfort of their homes. In the hectic lives of busy cities, by going online your store would be saving customers’ time, money, and efforts and thus, making their lives simpler. Faster delivery, easy return policy, quick refund, etc. are some of the features you should offer.

    One thing to ensure here is that your website/app should be device-friendly with a simple and effective interface. Plus you will have to do some digital marketing.

    About us

    Your Retail Coach (YRC) is a retail consulting and eCommerce outsourcing company in India offering a wide range of services in retail offline, retail eCommerce and retail omnichannel catering to a multitude of industries.

    Read Part 1-   How to Increase Retail Sales? – Part 2

     

    PROCESS AUTOMATION

    The idea of having Ecommerce Consultants on-board from the beginning itself points towards reducing the involvement of the promoters in daily operations. Ecommerce Businesses willing to be a brand reaping profits & sustaining the competition must ensure that most of their processes should be automated. The more the manual intervention, the more would be the errors.

    In Ecommerce business, you get only 1 chance to impress the customer & if you mess up there, you lose the customer for long.

    Process automation in respect to all the activities pertaining to customers from order receiving to order fulfilment is a must for a seamless experience for the customers.

    Task Management is another grey area where most deadlines fail as 90% of the tasks are assigned manually & are forgotten, unheard, misunderstood or mistaken.

    YRC Team of Ecommerce Management Consultants helps to make maximum of the processes system-driven to ensure minimalistic manual intervention.

    VIDEOGRAPHY & PHOTOGRAPHY

    No matter how good your product is, the customer would know only if it looks good.

    Photography includes the following steps:

    • Cataloguing your products
    • Cataloguing your images
    • Backup your images (A few cloud storage solutions include Dropbox, Google Drive, Bitcasa, Apple’s Cloud Storage etc.)
    • Choose the right camera & lens (You may also outsource the photography to a third party agency)

    DIGITAL MARKETING

    Digital Marketing includes SEO & SMM. SEO i.e. Search Engine Optimization includes activities like back-linking, meta tags, blog-writing etc. to ensure your website ranks on the 1st page on Google Search.

    Next comes SMM i.e. “Social Media Marketing” which as the name suggests including promoting your products on all the social media sites, email marketing, influencer marketing & several other BTL activities.

    These activities are going to be recurring & would decide the traffic on the website, the conversions, whether the right target market is tapped, the likes, the views, the orders, the reviews & much more. YRCs Ecommerce Consultants create a budget for digital marketing right from pre-launch to launch & for each month thereafter.

    Building digital marketing strategies in coordination with the agency, selecting them to signing them off would be the role of YRC.

    This ensures seamless coordination, detailed interactions & desired execution as it is always advisable to work with a single agency than multiple of them.

    IT INTEGRATION

    Selection of the right software for smooth functioning of back-end operations right from production to webstore display would be suggested and integrated by YRC Team.

    YRC’s Team defines SOPs of Product Movement, maps it with the locations & people. They then create a blueprint of all the features required in the software & help in shortlisting & selection.

    IT Integration involves connecting your offline inventories with real-time online webstore so when a sale occurs, inventories get deducted real time across offline as well as online platforms.

    This helps in accurate inventory management, maintaining the MOQs, re-order levels & achieving the optimum inventory levels.

    Some popular software include unicommerce, viniculum for your front-end website management & Genisys for your entire back-end Purchase, Production, Accounting, Invoicing etc. management.

    WAREHOUSE & LOGISTICS PLANNING

    • How many cities or countries you wish to sell in?
    • Where should your Warehouse be located?
    • Should you have one warehouse in each country or city?
    • Should you be having your own delivery team in your base city?
    • Would the 3rd party vendors be reliable? What happens when they lose or misplace your product during delivery?
    • How should I manage the logistics if my goods are coming from different countries?
    • How should the goods be stored and barcoded?
    • How much space do I require for warehouse?
    • I am sure several such questions must be haunting you while you think of starting your own fashion ecommerce brand.

     

    At YRC, our warehousing and logistics experts can help you devise a strategy for all of the above mentioned queries and much more.

    We design the layout of the Warehouse considering the inward, goods processing, software entry, barcoding, outward, goods return, scrap storage, goods stacking & much more.

    Logistics route plan is devised considering the manufacturer to your warehouse and from there to last mile delivery locations.

    UI & UX DESIGNING

    This Step involves 03 distinct parts:

    Part 1: Choosing the right Platform:

    From several platforms available in the market right from Shopify to magento, woocommerce, prestoshop, wordpress etc. you must choose the one that fits best for your business

    Part 2: UX Designing:

    “UX” denotes User Experience, which if put in simple language is building the functional requirements of the website.

    UX Designing includes designing the features required in the website, customer journey map, website features, the browsing features, navigation features, ecommerce order management process flow, checkout cart features, catalogue management, ecommerce payment system, cross selling features & much more.

    “As per statistics, 68% of the customers abandon the carts before payment”

    An interesting UX ensures the customer sticks on to the website for a longer time.

    Part 3: UI Designing:

    UI stands for User Interface, which means designing the look and feel of the website. UI includes using the right colours, elements and the entire aesthetics of the website.

    A good User Interface ensures the user completes the task that he has come for. It navigates the user through the journey of the brand in the simplest but most effective way.

    The UX designer maps out the bare bones of the user journey; the UI designer then fills it in with visual and interactive elements.

    If User experience is the bare bone, user interface wraps it up with an attractive cape.

    At YRC, our team if experts can help you develop the entire User Journey to ensure it is engaging!

    SAMPLING & PRODUCTION

    This step follows the “Designing” Phase, whether you have an in-house design team, freelance designers or an outsourced design company. It is one of the most exciting phases, as here you see your designs turning into products & your ideas turning into reality.

    In most start-up cases, production is outsourced i.e. brands tie-up with the established manufacturers/ job-workers to get their products manufactured.

    Sampling involves multiple 04 Stages, Fit-Sample, Prototype Sample, Pre-Production Sample & the Production Sample.

    Prototype Sample is the first sample provided to the buyer. It can be in any fabric/ colour. This sample is just to understand whether the product design looks equally great in reality.

    Fit Sample, as the name suggests is prepared to check the fit of the garment i.e. the various sizes, length, width etc.

    Pre-production is made by the actual production line. Here the stitching quality and other aspects related to manufacturing are checked. This is the last stage where rejection can be accepted.

    Production Sample is made before the production which is the replica of what is going to be finally produced.

    Once you are through with all this, you are good to go ahead & get your goods manufactured.

    PRODUCT DESIGNING / SOURCING

    Product Designing or Sourcing is the heart of the Ecommerce Fashion Brand.

    Product Designing / Sourcing can be done in several ways, as follows:

    • In-house Design Team
    • Freelance Designers
    • Outsourced Design Team
    • Ready Product Sourcing (From Manufacturer or Wholesaler)

    At YRC, we evaluate your business strategy & business model to arrive at the decision, which of the above ways would be best-fit for your business. In certain cases, product sourcing may be a combination of the above.

    These are the people who are going to build your brand! Whether they are the designers or merchandiser, your brand look is going to be in their hands.

    If you are designing each garment from the scratch, the sourcing would play crucial role in developing design identity of your brand.

    Sourcing includes fabric, trims, lining & all the raw material required to build the garment.

    BRANDING

    Branding is the “Look of the Brand”, right from logo to tagline, the colours used, the brand story, the brand communications on social media, the packaging & all the other aspects which speak directly or indirectly to the customers. Branding constitutes the look & feel of the brand & hence must be thoughtfully planned to match with the product that we are selling.

    Branding must appeal to our target audience. Example : A golden colour logo depicting finesse, art, richness, premium, however beautiful it may be individually cannot go with a brand selling affordable kids wear products. So, your logo must be in-line with your brand positioning, whether you are an expensive brand or a luxury brand or a value for money brand, it must be depicted from your “Branding”.

    It is an integral part to attract the target audience.

    ORGANOGRAMS & SOP’s

    Organogram is the “HR Blueprint” of the business which is created at the onset, to map out the team required across each function at various stages of the business. At the launch, only key people need to be got on board to ensure the project gets started & at this stage, all of them need to multi-task. Similarly, certain financial as well as operational goals are set for addition of the further team. Example, for the operations team, we hire 1 operations manager during the pre-launch phase & we add 1 more only when the business kicks-off & we reach a volume of selling more than 1000 pcs/ month or a turnover of more than 0.1 million USD.

    SOPs are Standard Operating Procedures, a bible to run the entire organization right from Sales, Purchase, HR, Order receiving to Order fulfilment, Inventory Management, Accounts, Warehouse, Logistics, Supply Chain, Production & all the other relevant functions for the business. Business must be organized from its first day of operations; only then the tasks can be delegated.

    At YRC, we design the organization structure, the processes, and approximate time taken to execute each process, job profile of every member within the organization, their KRAs, KPIs & the Reporting Structure.

    CRITICAL PATHWAY

    Critical Pathway Analysis (CPA), is a project management technique which cannot be overlooked while launching an ecommerce fashion brand. Brand launch process is cumbersome with multiple inter-dependent & time-bound tasks involved, which need to be tracked to ensure the project remains on track.

    CPA outlines key tasks across the project, their turnaround time (TAT) & the dependencies of tasks upon each other. It identifies the sequence of tasks, their interdependent steps from inception to completion, their criticalities, and their dates of onset, target dates of completion along with the key responsible person for the respective activities. Critical Pathway helps in understanding the unimportant & not urgent tasks which may jeopardize the execution of the project because of an unexpected snag! It also maps out the potential bottlenecks which might be posed because of the dependencies of tasks upon each other & cases where the next task cannot be commenced before the completion of the previous one.

    CPA detects the minimum & the maximum time involvement of a particular individual or team to execute the task, thereby arriving at the overall deadlines associated with the project.

    At Your Retail Coach, we design the Critical Pathway & review it periodically to ensure the project is on track & the progress is measurable.

    BUSINESS STRATEGY & BUSINESS PLAN

    Business Strategy includes the vision, mission, goals, business model, business plan & strategy for all the functions within the organization.

    Business Strategy is a well-defined plan that outlines who, what, where, why, how & when for the company; for example, who would be the target market, how to attract the target audience, when to launch new products, where to operate from, how to handle competitors, what would be the USP, what would be long term goal of the organization & several other answers to the 5Ws of Strategy.

    Business Strategy aligns the organization towards a common goal. Business SWOT helps company to identify & overcome their weaknesses & focus to sharpen the strengths. Business strategy forecasts future risks and helps business in building skillsets to overcome the potential threats.

    YRC’s Business Plan focuses on creating a “Blueprint” of the business, thereby deriving the feasibility of the concept & gauge whether the opportunity is lucrative to invest time, energy & effort. Business Plan creates cash flow understanding i.e. building inflow & outflow cash projections from Week zero to week 60 i.e. 05 year projection. Business Plan calculates the capital investment, operating costs, one-time costs, recurring costs & all the other numbers relevant to obtain the breakeven sales, return on investment, return on capital, internal rate of return & several other ratios. Business Plan is also one of the important requirements if you are targeting the “Investor Route”. Fund raising becomes extremely transparent & channelized. With business plan panned out clearly, the business will know until what point must it be stretched & where to stop, which reduces the probability of unplanned investments.

    MARKET RESEARCH

    Starting the concept of Ecommerce Fashion brand with Market Research ensures we get detailed understanding of the industry & this research report also acts as a social confirmation for your concept. Market Research helps in understanding the target locations, their population, potential online buyers for your product, competitors for each category, and top selling products of the competitors, competitors’ price range, offers & their responses & much more. Market Research helps in thorough understanding of your brand position as compared to our competitors. It helps in identifying gaps in the market, in your category along with the scope of the said product in the desired market. This will help in validation of your concept & prevents you from making the same mistakes as your fellow brands, eventually saving your time, energy & efforts. This phase is also a make or a break phase, as the market research study may at-times come up with some eye-popping numbers & statistics which might compel you to re-think on your product or category that you are planning to sell or alter your entire concept itself!! Market Research Reports analyse the competitors’ webstore for their traffic, conversion & sales. This is extremely valuable information to derive our inventory budgets & projections, which takes us to our next phase.