If ever there was an industry that needs to be resilient, it’s retail. And more than ever, after two years that have been full of challenges – from Brexit to the pandemic, the UK’s cost of living crisis to the devastating war in Ukraine.
Small businesses must carve time to focus on strategy and planning and a good sales strategy really helps to build up resilience within a business.
Don’t put your eggs in one basket
A well thought out sales strategy allows you to be diverse with planning. Small businesses can often make the mistake of focusing on one tactic when they need to look at lots of different ways to grow their business.
A common trap is to dedicate precious time on the latest social media trend for example – which may take lots of time and effort yet yield poor results. Yes, social media is an excellent way to spread awareness of your business, but it is just one tool in your toolkit.
There are only four ways to grow sales
Small businesses should look at the four ways that they can grow sales:
1. Get more people to come
2. Get more people to buy when they do come
3. Get more people to spend more when they come
4. Get people to return more frequently
All of those elements will help sales grow and if employed all together they will help grow sales more consistently. So if a business owner wants to spend time on TikTok activities they first need to decide which of the 4 goals that will achieve – probably number 1 – get more people to come.
When retailers consider all four points, they are able to consider the full spectrum of what they can do to drive sales, instead of focusing on a single tactic. There are so many different ways to drive awareness and sales. For example – working with a PR specialist or learning to do their own PR to help get products into publications or to share their founder story.
SEO, or search engine optimisation is another important place to focus. Fifty percent of all sales start with somebody googling or putting a search term into a search engine, so don’t miss out.
Collaborations is another great tactic – growing sales and audiences by working with a complementary and non-competitive business. Retailers can reach out and tap into the most engaged part of the partner business’s audience – an audience that’s highly likely to like the type of offering.
Maximising online purchase potential is also key – for example having an abandoned cart sequence in your email setting. Email marketing in general is a great tool for warm customers and retention as retailers can create tailored offers to their email database.
These four ways of driving sales are inextricably linked – if retailers can obtain returning customers then the average spend is highly likely to increase – people tend to spend more the second, third, fourth or fifth time that they shop with the company as opposed to the first time.
Creating their own customer community is key for retailers wanting to produce a well-rounded sales strategy. Part of this is thinking about the whole customer journey – what is that actually like for the most loyal customer? What appealing opportunities and encouragement is there for them to make a purchase?
Product is king
Retailers must absolutely focus on their product – a product business is driven by its product. The marketing strategy could be tip top but if the product isn’t there won’t be any sales. Part of the sales strategy needs to be the product strategy – small business owners should think about which are their best-selling products, which ones do customers love and will talk about to their friends.
Retailers need to know their products, understand them and know how to develop them so that they maximise their potential. Retail product businesses are in a game of percentages and probabilities – what is their customer most likely to be wanting to buy at this point in time? Do their products reflect that?
For an effective strategy there needs to be a method of tracking effectiveness. Ideally a monthly tracker – what are the targets for each month? Planning a monthly strategy ‘check-in’ means business owners can make any necessary adjustments.
The key take out for small business owners is to include multiple ways to achieve each point and that makes up the sales strategy plus have clear goals and plans for each one activity whilst planning a schedule so they know which one to focus on when.