Some of the most successful independent retailers we’ve met have built up a reputation locally for being known as the expert in their field. Sure enough people love to Google their issues to search for a resolution but there’s a strong segment of consumers who really just want to have a face-to-face chat about things.
Write informative articles that allow your customers to make better decisions. Keep them factual and use references wherever possible, and avoid the hard sell in this type of communication. You can use this content in printed newsletters for your customers to pick up and read, but why not take it to the next step and get this information online. If you have a website, include it in your blog and link to it from all of your social media channels. If you don’t have a website, consider starting one, even if just for your blog content, as a central point to share this information out to all of your social media followers.
Make sure your team understand the product offering, and whenever you get new staff, invite your suppliers back to do training on their products, and try to get as many staff as possible to join in for a refresher, no matter how many times they’ve heard the training. Encourage the supplier to interact with a couple of customers and watch how they sell their own products.
Invite questions from your customers and encourage discussions around product choices. Every single product on your shelf must own its space and work for you. Don’t let suppliers push you into deals or offers where you don’t think the product fits with your business. It is a great idea to offer different price points (and therefore different qualities) of certain items and this can be an effective sales technique (the either/or close) however having too many variations of anything will result in confusion and often in a lost sale.
Work with your team to get them training in the areas they need it, and also in the areas where they are already excellent, but with a little more guidance could be outstanding. Your suppliers should offer product training and we recommend to get as much of this as possible, but there are many other training opportunities available and often for little investment from the employer. Be wary of having one team member who is seen as the oracle of all knowledge, as this could be damaging to your business if you were to lose him/her. Even if that oracle is you, it will affect your ability to move the business forward as you will struggle to take time away from the front line. Include training as part of your team’s continuing professional development and highlight areas of need within staff reviews, while setting goals of specific training to be achieved by the next review period.