26 May 2024, 16:01
By Andy Preston Jun 11, 2014

The new rules of retail selling

Buyer behaviour has changed in recent years, says sales trainer Andy Preston – so retailers and their staff need to embrace the new rules of retail selling if they are to succeed …

The recession has undoubtedly changed the way people spend their money. The way they look at buying, the amount they’re willing to spend and how they scrutinise each purchase are changing the customer buying landscape for retail outlets – yet many of those outlets have failed to change and adapt accordingly.

Some retailers are aware customer buying behaviour has changed, but either don’t know what to do, aren’t sure what to do, or are sticking their heads in the sand, hoping it will all go away. None of these are particularly effective strategies, as I’m sure you would agree.

The ones that have taken action have taken it more at the strategic level, around the branding, straplines or strategy, and precious little has filtered down to the staff in the stores – let alone changed what they do – so therefore the only thing that has changed at ground level is that there are less people buying!

It’s time for retailers to embrace the new rules of retail selling …

1. Customers are scrutinising their purchases more

As the recession hit people’s pockets, they started to scrutinise their purchases more. This meant that purchases they would make previously without thinking too much, they’re now starting to consider more closely. 

This means they’re not only scrutinising what they purchase, and how much they are paying for it, but also where they buy their items from. So, customers who may have used certain retailers for years are now re-considering their loyalty and where they buy from.

“You need to appeal to their buying emotion in the moment of purchase, or when they’re choosing an item and putting it into their basket or trolley”

Therefore the successful retailers will put things in place at a ground-floor level that not only retain their existing loyal customers, but also pinch customers from rival stores. Do it well and you’ll get great results. Do it badly – or not at all – and rival stores will take your customers!

2. Customers will still pay, but only for an experience

The savvy retailers are switching on to the fact that customers will still spend money with them, but only if they focus on the experience. This means all staff need to be focused on providing each customer with a great experience each time they are in the store. 

That means when they enter the store, while looking for something, and when paying and leaving the store. Think about all the times customers interact with your staff – is it always a great, positive experience? In many cases, the answer is no.

How well are you and your staff managing the customer buying experience right now?

3. Make it easy to buy from you

The majority of retailers tend to default to making it difficult to buy from them, rather than easy! If customers are now being more choosy where they buy from, and you don’t make it easy to buy from you, you’re driving your potential customers to your competition.

Think about your store right now, and your people on the shop floor. Are they making it easy to buy from you? Does every customer walk away feeling as though the interaction was pleasant, simple and easy? Then think about the store as a whole – how easy are you to buy from? How easy is it for customers to get what they need? Or do you thrive in making it difficult? 

4. Upsell emotionally, in the moment

In most stores, retail upselling seems to be a lost art. It may well still be discussed at management level, but it’s certainly not apparent in the trenches with the staff on the shop floor. Every retailer should be looking at maximising the customer spend per visit – as the customer is being more cautious about what they spend, you need to make the most of what they can spend right now, while they’re in the store!

When getting customers to part with their money is more difficult, you need to appeal to their buying emotion in the moment of purchase, or when they’re choosing an item and putting it into their basket or trolley. Of course, you can’t have one member of staff per customer because that would be ridiculous, but you can have in-store offers that maximise your upselling opportunities.

Are you on top of this as much as you could be?

Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing how you get on …

Leading UK sales trainer Andy Preston has an extensive history in professional buying, including work with several blue chip companies such as BMW, HSBC and Nissan. This story was published in the May issue of Furniture News magazine.

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