How to Convert Browsers in Retail
Retail Feature – Improving Conversion
Intel sponsor an annual conference in Lisbon for technology retailers from across Europe. I was invited to speak at one a couple of years ago on the changing customer and disruption in retail. As part of my research in advance, I mystery-shopped several technology retailers across Europe. I was surprised that for such a sophisticated sector with deep pockets, their professionalism in ‘converting’ browsers to spenders needed much improvement.
As I mentioned last week, on-line retailing is indeed a great threat but I am firmly convinced that ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers can compete. We hear much about customers researching more than ever, before they enter a store. The great piece of news here is they do indeed go into ‘bricks and mortar’ stores. Retailers can maximize that opportunity to romance the customer into buying in-store rather than on-line!
Last week, I shared the fundamental sales levers for all retailers that are locked in this simple formula.
Retail Sales Formula: F x C x A = S
‘Footfall’ (the number of customers entering the store) multiplied by ‘conversion’ (the percentage of those that actually buy rather than just browse) multiplied by ‘average transaction value’, equals sales. This formula gives a retailer pointers for where to focus their efforts. Dare I ask, is footfall really down? Or do retailers actually mean that they’re not ‘converting’ quite as many?
Either way, retailers have two more factors to focus on with ‘conversion’ and ‘ATV’. For example, if footfall drops, it may be possible to still achieve your targets by putting even more focus on ‘conversion’ and ‘average transaction value’. Selling is after all, a numbers game.
When I talk to independent retailers about ‘converting’ browsers to spenders, many express concern that it’s ‘pushy’. Let me deal with this immediately. I hate pushy selling! in fact if I get even a whiff of pushy selling in my own shopping trips, I get defensive. Last week I offered some ideas to drive footfall. This week I’ll share some tips (3Cs) on how to convert more of those browsers into spenders in a non-pushy way.
Your People are your Greatest Asset for Converting Browsers to Spenders
One of the biggest challenges for retailers the world over is to get their salespeople to sell and not just serve. As I mentioned earlier, the biggest disappointment for me when I mystery-shopped the tech retailers was how the sales people interacted with me. Enabling and empowering salespeople has to be the single biggest differentiator from on-line.
1. Connect. On entering the store, customers should be made to feel welcome. Do that by smiling, making eye-contact with every single one and saying hello. This is not being pushy! This is what you’d do if a friend came into your home. You can still allow the customer to browse at their own pace and then return to them when they seem to be paying more attention to a particular product. Do not say ‘can I help you?’ because you’ll deservedly get a ‘no’ almost every time – and if you engage again after that ‘no’, well that’s being pushy!
2. Consult. When the customer is clearly ready to be approached, go forward and then ask how you can help. The best salespeople are those that ask the right questions. When I hear of supposed great salespeople that can ‘sell coal to Newcastle’ I get very wary. I immediately think of Arthur Daly, the fast-talking pushy salesman. Using open-ended questions, take time to establish your customer’s needs. This helps to build personal trust and rapport in a way that can’t happen on-line.
Then present options to the customer that match their needs, focusing on the benefits of your options. In other words, what will your product do for your customer? For example, Velcro straps on a child’s shoe is a feature. But the fact that the children can close their shoes on their own, is the benefit. And the language of benefits is more enticing than features.
If you get objections about the colour, the size, the price or whatever, remember an objection is not a rejection. The customer is letting you know that something in your proposal is not quite right. They aren’t necessarily saying they won’t buy anything. Ask them what in particular they are not happy with and then show an alternative.
3. Conclude. When the customers indicate that they are happy with your proposal, don’t be shy about ‘closing’ the sale. Take time to thank and reassure the customers that they have made the right choice and tell them about your after-sales service. Wrap or bag the purchase with care and wish the customer well on their journey.
Firstly, as on-line retailers continue to improve, they recognise that they miss the human interaction that bricks and mortar retailers can give. They try to emulate that with pop-up screens to engage in webchat, or to get customers to call them.
Bricks and mortar retailers have a distinct advantage to make the customer’s experience a personable and memorable one. But customers are more savvy and well-researched, so product knowledge is a greater priority than ever before for retail salespeople. Their confidence and ability to convert will be shattered if the customer seems to know more than they do about their product.
Secondly, research thankfully shows that low prices are not the only buying motives. Retailers should not underestimate their ability to sell against a price disadvantage. While researching for this series of articles, I interviewed many independent retailers. I believe that professional sales training is a missed opportunity that as the market changes, has to become a top priority.
What seems like common-sense in the tips above, is not common practice I’m afraid. Retailers, prioritise your own people and give them the tools they need to compete effectively.
Alan O’Neill is Managing Director of Kara Change Management, specialists in strategy, culture and people development. Go to www.kara.ie if you’d like help with your business.
Alan’s debut book “Premium is the New Black” will be launched in October.
© Copyright. Alan O’Neill. All rights reserved. 2018