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  • The Self-Fulfilling Sales Prophecy


    Wouldn’t if be nice to have a crystal ball to tell what products will sell?
    It can be hard to predict why one product will be a sales success, and another will languish on the shelves.
    There may be all kinds of reasons.
    It can be timing.
    It can be product quality.
    It can be the placement in the store.
    It can be a combination of many different factors.
    When you put a new product on the floor, it’s hard to know whether it’ll be a dud.
    Or a superstar.

    What can you do when you don’t know which product is going to be popular, and which one will gather dust? You might not have a crystal ball, but you can use the self-fulfilling prophecy of sales to give your products the best chance of success.

    What is the self-fulfilling prophecy of sales?
    The self-fulfilling prophecy is at work when we buy an item for our store because we love it and we’re absolutely positive it’s going to sell.
    The new product arrives in the store and makes you swoon.
    You set one aside and buy it for yourself.

    You’re so excited about this new product, you immediately put it on display at the front of the store. When shoppers come in the door, you mention this new item. You tell them you bought it yourself and why you’ve found it to be a great product.

    You’re so sure this is going to be a popular item, you order more in all the colours available. With this large volume of merchandise, you make a powerful display of the assortment.

    You tell the rest of the sales team what a great product this is. You make sure the team knows all there is to know about how to use this item. You get them all to try it out.

    Sure enough, this product sells like gangbusters.
    You just knew it was going to be a hit!
    Chances are the product may not be any more remarkable than many of the other products you have to offer.
    But, what makes it sell is Attitude.

    Attitude is the self-fulfilling prophecy
    When we love a product, it sells because our attitude changes our actions.
    Our attitude creates the self-fulfilling prophecy.
    Our attitude and enthusiasm are infectious.
    It influences our interactions with customers.

    By taking a closer look at how the choices we make when we love a product, we can consciously choose to have a positive influence on the sales of all of our products. Not just the ones we personally prefer.

    So, what do we do when we love a product?
    We do four things:
    1) Promote more
    2) Buy more
    3) Learn more
    4) Share more

    1) Promote more
    When we love a product, we tend to feature it in a prominent location. We put the product in the window, or near the front door. We put it on display. We make sure that everyone who walks in the store is going to see it.

    2) Buy more
    When we are deciding what products to buy or re-order, we buy more of the ones we really like. We already believe we’ll sell a lot of that item, so we order in quantity. Massing a large quantity of one product is an effective technique to create eye catching displays.

    3) Learn more
    We typically learn more about a product that we really like. We try it out. We buy it for ourselves. We research the background. We examine it in detail. We tend to share this information with other coworkers, and with customers. The more educated we are about a product, the more educated the customer is likely to be about that product. And they tend to buy more. So, pass on your knowledge.

    4) Share more
    When we’re enthusiastic about a product, we offer it to more customers. And customers catch our enthusiasm. Customers more likely to buy when they’re excited about the product. And the more shoppers we offer a product to, the more sales we’ll make.

    Learn to use the self-fulfilling prophecy in your store

    - Act as if you love every product.
    - Rotate displays regularly. Feature all products in a key display at some point.
    - Use sales records to see what products sold well in the past. Buy similar items in volume to create dramatic displays.
    - Learn about and try all your products. Make sure your team is made up of product experts in the items you sell.
    - Inform all customers about new items.

    What’s not selling?
    Take a look around your store.
    Find the products that are not selling as well as others.
    Make a prophecy about their future stardom, then take action to make it come true.
    Start treating these languishing duds like superstars.

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    Community Events: How To Avoid The ‘Screwdriver Syndrome’

    Community events are disappointing
    They seem to promise more than they deliver.
    You put in long hours.
    You spend money on extra staff.
    You buy balloons.
    There’s tents. Face painting. Music. Crowds.
    But no sales.

    All that work for nothing, it seems.
    At the end of it all, you swear you’ll never do another community event.
    Don’t give up too soon.

    Community events can be great business builders!
    To be successful, you have to redefine the goal of your event.
    If you’re trying to hammer a nail with a screwdriver, you won’t be successful.
    But, if you use that screwdriver for what it was intended for, it works like a dream.
    Community events aren’t the right tool for sales.
    Except perhaps for restaurants. And souvenir shops.

    Community events are relationship tools
    Not sales tools.
    They’re opportunities to show you’re a part of the community.
    And most importantly, they’re a chance meet new people.
    People who might not otherwise have discovered your store.
    The goal of the event is to get to know each other.
    So, how do you do that?

    There are four steps to making a community event successful.
    1) Invite guests
    2) Attract guests inside
    3) Get to know your visitors
    4) Give them a reason to return

    1) Invite your own guests
    Don’t rely or the event marketing to attract the customers for you. The event organizers will be promoting the event using mass media, to attract a wide variety of people. You can build on this promotion by marketing specifically to your target customers.

    Use your email and mailing lists, social media, blog and website to promote to your customers. Tell them what special offers they’ll get at this event. Also promote the event through signs and handouts in-store. Send a news release to local media, highlighting what will be offered in your store.

    Now you’ve let people know about your participation in the event.
    What about the big day?

    2) Attract guests inside
    On the day of the event, your goal is to get visitors into your store. You want them to come in, look around, meet your team and get a taste of what you have to offer. What can you do to attract people inside? You need to contribute to the theme of the event, and find a way to connect it to your business.

    Perhaps you can offer free face painting, temporary tattoos, or stickers with selections of designs relating to your business. For an ec0-friendly business, this could be images of nature. For a pet store, the designs could be animals.

    Consider doing a special order of logo merchandise that your customer would value. It could be an inexpensive item that you give away, or a higher priced item that can be sold. Make it an item that has value to the customer, and reflects your business.

    Another option is hosting a live demonstration or activity in the store. You could hire a local musician to play in the store. An art gallery or art supply store could have an artist at work. A retail paint company could give mini-workshops or demos of how to get a great paint finish, or how to paint furniture. A clothing store could host a mini-fashion show, or trunk show. A book store could have readings throughout the day.

    You have a few ideas to use to attract customers. On to the next step.

    3) Get to know your visitors
    Introduce yourself to guests when they come inside. Ask them about themselves. Find out if they’ve visited your store before. Do they live nearby? What brought them down to the event?

    Once you’ve learned more about them, you can let them know about what they’ll find in the store that day. The key to this step is to be friendly and informative, without being pushy. Remember — all you’re doing is getting to know each other. To make this successful, do more listening than talking.

    The more you know your visitors and customers, the more you’ll know about how you can help them.
    Once you’ve gotten acquainted with your guests, what next?

    4) Give them a reason to return
    To make the most of an event, you need to give your visitors a reason to return. Most people are unlikely to make a purchase the first time they visit a new store. To turn your visitors into buyers, you need to give them a compelling reason to come back.

    Invite your guests to come back to another event. Make this event a short educational workshop, seminar or class. It should be a learning opportunity, a topic that solves a problem for your customers.

    The event should be scheduled for the near future, when the shoppers’ experience in your store is fresh in their minds. Inviting shoppers to an event also gives you an opportunity follow up. Ask them if they’d like to receive more information about this an other events and workshops by email. Get them to sign up for your email list. Give clear information about what will be in the emails, and how often they’ll be received. Offer a bonus to anyone who signs up. Perhaps everyone on the email list receives a pass to a VIP event, a free class, or a special report.

    Make sure bonuses and incentives to return are valuable to the customer. Coupons and discounts are overused. Instead of discounts, think of creative ways to add service to your offerings. Service can be information, education, convenience, pampering, special attention. The right service helps your customers solve a problem.

    To get visitors to return, offer them a compelling reason to visit again.

    To have successful community events, you need to be sure you’re using the right tool for the job.
    A screwdriver is ineffective to hammer a nail, but it works great for the job it’s intended for.

    Community events are often poor sales tools.
    But with a little planning, they’re great relationship tools.

    To make sure you’re using this relationship tool effectively:

    1) Invite your own guests
    2) Attract guests inside
    3) Get to know your visitors
    4) Give them a reason to return

    Get your store involved in your next local community event. Build relationships with new visitors!

    Next Step
    Need to know what makes a great education event? Click here =>

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    Events: Why You Need To Start Small

    Cartoon woman pressing button labeled repeatA few years ago I went shopping for blueberry bushes for my yard.  The nursery offered a couple of choices. There were large bushes that would produce a crop of blueberries the next year. Or the ones in my price range. These bushes were small and would need regular care and tending to grow into a large, productive bush.

    Caring for these blueberries to make them productive, is a lot like caring for your business to make it productive.

    Store events give regular care to your business

    Regular events help your store grow and thrive. Regular events attract new shoppers, and bring existing customers back time and again. When you hold them on a consistent basis, events don’t have to be grandiose to be successful. In fact, small events can be better than large ones.

    Think small

    If your budget is large, you can host large, lavish parties. You can spend money of advertising campaigns. You can hire someone for public relations. But most of us don’t have a large budget. Most of us are trying to do as much as we can with small, even miniscule, budgets. Small budgets equals small events. And small events have advantages over big events.

    Small events are easy

    Retailers often shy away from events. An event seems like a big commitment. A lot of energy. Extra time. Big costs. Big intimidation factor.

    Small events don’t have those drawbacks. They’re casual. They have zero intimidation factor.

    What makes small events easy?

    1) Easy to afford
    2) Easy to manage
    3) Easy to repeat

    1) Easy to afford

    Small events don’t require a large outlay of cash. Small events keep costs to the bare minimum. Plan events that might hold 10 − 20 people at the most. If you’re only inviting a small number of people, you don’t need a big marketing budget. You can invite people individually. Invite 10 customers and ask them each to bring a friend or two. Make it personal.

    Stay away from lavish food. You might choose to provide some sparkling water, tea or coffee. Maybe some cookies. Keep it simple.

    Avoid giving away pricey gift bags. Instead, provide an incentive to return to the store. Offer each guest a gift card or gift certificate that can be redeemed for a bonus with their next purchase.

    You can even consider charging for your event. If the event has enough value for customers, you could charge a small fee to cover the cost. For example, if you are paying to have a special guest or speaker, customers don’t mind paying to attend.

    Remember, events don’t have to break the bank. And they don’t have to be take a lot of time to plan.

    2) Easy to manage

    Small events are less intimidating to plan than large ones. There’s no big marketing plan. No catering to arrange. No venue to book.

    For a small event you can fit all of the guests into your store. You don’t need extra staff. You can easily host a small event with one or two people. And the clean up is minimal.

    When the event is small and casual, it’s a lot less pressure. And a lot less stress. When an event is easy to manage, you’ll find you can hold it more often.

    3) Easy to repeat

    When an event is easy to afford and manage, it’s easy to repeat. The best events for building your business are the ones that you can repeat over and over.

    Why do events need to be repeated?

    Repeating events brings in a steady stream of regular customers. The same customers come back time and again. And sometimes they bring friends. And they tell others. Word gets around. You’re no longer just a store, with passive products sitting on the shelves. Your store is a place where things happen. Where people get involved, with you, and with each other.

    Repeating events is also efficient. You don’t have to create a new plan each time you hold an event. You create a system for your event. Each week, or each month, you hold the same event. You use your system to invite the guests, pick up the snacks, set up the room, and clean up after.

    Soon the event becomes a routine you don’t even think about. A routine that brings customers into your store time and again.

    But, I need more traffic right away!

    Some people want lots of traffic right now. OK, well, we’d all like that.

    The truth is big traffic equals spending big money. And big effort. You have to start planning months in advance. And you might only be able to afford to do that once. Besides, one off events aren’t going to keep people coming back. Those events will attract the customers that come for the big party. And then go home.

    Wouldn’t you prefer a marketing tool that cost you less than a hundred dollars a week? And could add at least a couple of new customers each week? If you get started right now, you could host your first event within a couple of weeks. Sure, you might just have 5 people. Or even just a couple. The next week you might have 6 or 7 people. In six months you’ll have an established marketing system. And you might just have a waiting list for your events.


    Small, in store events give regular care to your business. Just like my young blueberry bushes, your business will be thriving and fruitful before you know it.

    Next Step

    What kinds of events can you run? Next week we’ll look at how to come up with ideas for events for your store.


    Recommended Product: Another great way to start off the new year. Learn more about Why Customers Aren’t Buying (And How To Fix It): The Pinwheel Principle

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    How Events Get Customers In Your Door

    Sarah’s bookstore hummed as customers milled about, chatting with each other.

    Nearby store owners complained about the economy, and competition from big box stores. They closed at 5:00 pm on Wednesday & Thursday nights, because of slow traffic.

    But Sarah’s store was open late, filled with customers those two nights of the week. She seemed to have a secret formula that kept her store thriving.

    Events are the secret formula
    Events give shoppers a reason to visit. If you don’t give them a reason, shoppers may intend to visit, but put it off. Or they may never have been to your store before. An event gives them a reason to check it out for the first time.

    What’s Sarah’s secret?
    Sarah knows that events are the key to getting customers in the door, predictably and reliably. She knows that two nights a week in-store events draw a store full of customers inside. Customers that are happy to tell other people about their experience.

    Why is Sarah’s store busier than the others?
    Every week Sarah hosts a writer’s group and a book club. Each event draws 15-20 people. Most of those customers are regulars, but occasionally they bring new friends with them.

    You can learn to use Sarah’s secret in your store
    There are three steps to creating events that get customers in the door:
    1) Decide on a goal for the event
    2) Create the event
    3) Invite guests

    1) Decide on a goal for the event
    What do you want to accomplish with the event? Events are about customer relationships. Set goals that relate to building those relationships, and getting shoppers into the store.

    Your goal might be to attract new customers to the store. It could be to get customers to sign up for a series of workshops. Or it might be to build relationships with your VIP or best customers.

    Set goals that are specific. For example:

    • • If your slowest day of the week is Monday, plan to bring in 5 new customers every Monday
    • • If the store is dead in the middle of the day, create events to bring in shoppers midday
    • • Increase visits by regular customers from occasional to weekly

    Once you know what you want to achieve with the event, the next step is to plan the event itself.

    2) Create the event
    The events you run should relate to your customer needs. Create an event that helps your customer learn or do something.

    The event you choose will depend on the type of product you sell. Ideas could be book club meetings for a book store, running club for an athletic shoe store, or style and fit workshops for a women’s apparel store. Events can be free or paid. They can include clubs, classes and workshops.

    Whatever event you choose needs to add value for your customer. To help you come up with event ideas, ask yourself:

    • • What kind of questions do customers ask about using your products?
    • • What do they need help with?
    • • What kinds of problems do they have that you can solve?

    By helping your customers learn, they come to see you as an expert to turn to for information and advice. That is the value that will keep customers coming back to you, instead of the competition.

    Now that you’ve figured out what kind of event you will have, let’s move on to the next step.

    3) Invite guests
    Don’t make the mistake of trying to make the event a big, mass media event. Or printing up hundreds of cheap flyers.

    These events are about building relationships, so the invitations need to reflect that. Make it personal, like you would if you invited them to your home. Customers want to feel special like your friends do. Invite guests when they are in your store. Hand them invitations. Email invitations to customers you haven’t seen in a while. Put an invitation on your blog. Link it to all your social media; facebook page, twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

    Consider making the event exclusive to make it more desirable. Sarah’s writers group was exclusive. Only writers allowed. You can make events even more exclusive by asking for RSVPs, or charging a fee. Make sure the RSVP or fee information is clearly communicated in the invitation.

    Once you’ve gone through these three steps, you’re ready to host your event.

    What if no one buys anything?
    This is a fear for many retailers. Hosting an event takes time, planning, and money. With all that investment, what if there are no sales?

    The truth is, you may not sell anything. If the main goal of your event is to get new customers, you probably will sell very little. The event just gets the shoppers in the door. It’s like a first date. The shopper is just getting to know you. It’s a chance for you to start building a relationship.

    In Sarah’s case, she often had nights that went by without sales at the event, but she wasn’t worried. These people were some of her best customers. They were book lovers. By visiting her store every week, they would see what was new on the shelves. They would place special orders. They’d come in throughout the week to pick up something they’d seen during the book club meeting. And they told their friends about the bookstore.

    Sarah was happy to invest two nights a week hosting events. She knew they generated more business than an expensive advertising campaign would. And other than her time, the costs were minimal.

    To create Sarah’s secret to get customers in the door, use these three steps:

    1) Decide on a goal for the event
    Choose a goal that is related to building customer relationships.
    2) Create the event
    Plan events that meets customer needs.
    3) Invite guests
    Create invitations that are personal and build relationships.

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    How to Create Customer Dreams in Your Store


    Have you ever walked into a store and just fallen in love?
    It’s as if the store was created just for you.
    It smells heavenly.
    The lighting is beautiful.
    Each display is exquisite.
    The products are calling you.
    It’s perfect.


    it’s out of your price range
    But you enjoy the atmosphere of the store
    so much that you stay to browse.
    You feel the fabrics.
    Examine the fine stitching.
    Feel the weight of the silverware in your hand.

    You imagine…
    …what that table would look like in your kitchen.
    …what you’d look like in that sweater.
    …how the bbq would look on your deck.

    You dream of the day…
    when you’ll be able to go home
    with a table, sweater or bbq like those.
    For now, you’re happy to take home just a little piece of
    the dream. A table cloth, scarf or bbq accessories.

    Shoppers want to take home the dream
    Even if it’s just a small taste of the dream.

    You can help your customers dream
    There are three methods you can use to
    help your customers dream:

    1) Vignette displays
    2) Varied price points
    3) Visible pricing

    1) Vignette displays
    Vignette displays are small scenes. The purpose of a vignette is to show shoppers how products work together.This type of display works best with stores that sell furniture, home décor or gifts and tableware. When you have furniture or housewares, it is easy to create a scene that could be a part of someone’s home.

    Set up a vignette in one section of the store, or as a window display. Using furniture, linens and décor items, create a scene that looks like a room in a house.

    Vignettes can work for other stores too
    Vignettes can be used in stores selling clothing.
    Pet supplies.
    All it takes is a little thinking. And maybe a few props. A vignette doesn’t have to spell out all the details. It can just suggest a scene.

    A clothing store could create a vignette that suggests a bedroom at night. Hang clothes on hooks on a wall. A chair nearby has a coat over the back, and a sweater folded on the seat. A pair of shoes are lined up neatly next to the chair.It looks like clothes laid out for the next day.

    If you sell pet supplies instead, create a vignette to suggest an outing to take the dog for a walk. Include a leash, treats, clothing and toys.

    Vignettes don’t have to be large displays
    A few books stacked on a table, with a pair of reading glasses and a teacup are enough. The glasses and teacup add personality to the display.

    A magazine opened to an inviting page demonstrating a building project can be transformed into a display. Add a toolbelt and workgloves with a circular saw, a handful of nails, hammer and some small scraps of lumber to suggest a building project underway.

    Vignettes like these are just one way to help shoppers dream. That brings us to pricing.

    2) Varied price points
    How you price items in your vignettes can attract or repel shoppers. To attract shoppers to dream about your products, use a variety of price points.

    High price
    Large, key pieces in the vignette will be the high priced items. These are the products that attract the customer to the display. They are visible from a distance.

    A home décor store would use furniture, such as a table and chairs. A museum shop would use a beautiful artwork. A clothing store might use a beautiful coat, or a leather jacket. A hardware store could use expensive tools.

    The high price items command attention.But a display that consists only of high ticket items will quickly turn off many shoppers. They won’t stick around if everything is priced out of reach. Mixing some lower priced items into the display keeps the attention of the aspirational shoppers.

    Low – medium price
    Fill in the vignette display with small items affordable products. Lower prices don’t mean lower quality.Maintain the same high standards for quality and design in your lower priced items.

    Some customers may not be able to afford the table and chairs, but perhaps they can afford the vase. Or the wine glasses.

    The museum shop would display high quality art notecards, calendars or books. The clothing store would use a scarf. The hardware store could use copies of Fine Woodworking magazine.

    Customers want to take a piece of their dream home with them. The high priced items are what they dream about– the table and chairs, the artwork, the leather jacket. But they can take a lower priced product home today. When they use that item,they remember the dream. And savour it.

    But, what good is affordable pricing if shoppers can’t see the price? That brings us to the third method for helping your customers dream.

    3) Visible pricing
    Shoppers want to know the price of the items on display. When prices are hard to find, shoppers turn away.They assume that if products aren’t priced visibly, the items must be expensive.

    To attract shoppers that will dream about your big ticket items, and save up for them–you need to tell them the price. Pricing the items clearly will let the customer know that the products have a range of price points. They’ll realize that not all the items are out of their price range.

    Create unobtrusive, but visible price signs that complement the identity of the store. Use custom hangtags attached with string. Or elegant tent cards. Or a price list in a picture frame.

    Why would you want shoppers who can’t afford to buy now?
    These shoppers take up a lot of time.They browse. Or buy one or two small items. They aren’t the most profitable. So why would you want to attract them to your store? Loyalty.

    Not the kind of loyalty that is given in exchange for earning points on a rewards card. I mean real loyalty. The kind that keeps customers coming back, year after year.

    These customers develop a relationship with you and your store. Treat these aspirational shoppers well when they buy just one item. Or come in just to browse and dream.

    Where will do you think they will go to splurge on a luxury for themselves when they land that new job? Or get a promotion? Where do you think they’ll shop when they save up the money for that new sofa? Or a piece of art they’ve been eyeing in your store?

    Get customers to dream in your store
    Get them to come back when they’re ready to make that dream come true.
    Let’s recap how you can help those shoppers dream:

    1) Vignette displays
    Create small scenes in your displays to show shoppers how products work together.

    2) Varied price points
    Within your vignettes, use a variety of price points to attract a variety of

    3) Visible pricing
    Don’t hide your prices. Make the pricing visible, but attractive.

    Get your shoppers to fall in love
    Use these three steps together to woo them.
    Give them the store they dream about.
    And keep them coming back for more.


    Recommended Product: Why Customers Aren’t Buying (And How To Fix It): The Pinwheel Principle

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    How to Help Shoppers’ Dreams Come True

    At first, no one paid much attention.
    The sisters ogling the netbook computers were seven and ten years old. No one thought of two little girls as customers.

    Even though they had been coming to the store for four years with their dad. And every time they visited, they stopped to look at the tiny laptops displayed near the door.

    Every visit, they dreamed about having their own computer.
    The laptops were so small.
    Just the right size for a kid.
    But the laptops were just something the girls talked about.
    And dreamed about.
    For years.

    But, this time the girls’ visit to the store was different
    They’d learned to understand the prices. They could read the signs.
    They realized if they put their money together, they could almost afford to buy themselves a laptop.

    The girls found a sales clerk to help them. He asked them their price range, and recommended a laptop to suit them. He told them to come back on Boxing Day to get the best deal.

    The girls were ecstatic
    They went home and scrutinized their bank statements.
    They saved their birthday money.
    They emptied out their piggy banks, and counted out their coins.
    They asked for a ride to the bank to withdraw money.

    Finally, the big day arrived
    Boxing Day.
    The two sisters got their dad to take them back to the store.
    They found their sales clerk.
    And their laptop.
    They paid for it.
    And took home their very own computer.

    How do you think they felt at that moment?
    And where do you think they’ll shop when they buy their next computer?

    You might have shoppers like these two little girls
    Shoppers that love the your products, but don’t have the money to buy them. Yet. Shoppers who aspire to a lifestyle that at first they can’t afford.

    The girls were aspirational shoppers
    Aspirational shoppers could be anyone.
    They could be young.
    They could be starting out in their careers.
    They may have young families.
    They may be changing jobs.

    They are shoppers who browse, but don’t buy.
    They come back, time & again.
    Maybe for years.

    Until they save up the money for something special.
    Or earn a little more.

    Then they return to the store where they were treated well.
    Where they browsed, and dreamed.
    Where they imagined themselves with a new lifestyle.

    What are you doing to court aspirational customers?
    Are you frustrated because they’re ‘just browsing’?
    Or are you helping them dream?


    Recommended Product: Why Customers Aren’t Buying (And How To Fix It): The Pinwheel Principle

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    How Connections Get Your Store Humming

    A friend of mine, Ian, struggled with the washing machine he shares with his landlord. He went to do a load of laundry, and couldn’t get the washer started. So, he left the laundry until later, hoping that the next time he returned, the landlord would have the washer running.

    Ian returned the next day. Still the washer wouldn’t start. After trying everything he could think of, he finally knocked on the landlord’s door. The landlord took one look at the washer and said, “With electrical appliances, it really helps if you connect them to the electricity.”

    Washing machines need connection to electricity.
    Stores also need connection to an energy source.

    Customers are your store’s energy source
    You need to draw customers into your store. But it’s tough to motivate shoppers to come into your store if you are ‘just a store’. If you’re putting products on the shelves and waiting for shoppers to come in, you’ll wait a long time. A few shoppers will trickle in.

    You might have a great product, but that great product isn’t enough to get new shoppers into your store anymore.

    What can you do to get shoppers in the door?
    The more often customers visit, the more they buy.
    The more time they spend in the store, the more they buy.

    You want to get your store humming.
    Buzzing with energy.
    Customers milling around.
    Browsing. Talking.
    Spending time.

    So, how do you get that energy? That buzz?


    Create a unique connection with your customers
    Just inviting shoppers to connect will not attract them to your store. You need to create a unique reason for them to connect with you. A unique connection will get them to spend more time in your store. And they’ll visit more often.

    But how do you come up with a unique reason for your customers to connect with your store?
    There are three parts of your customer interaction where you can create a unique connection:

    1) Experience
    2) Engagement
    3) Education

    1) Experience
    Offer an experience in your store that is different than your typical shopping trip. Treat your customers like guests in your home. Yes, it’s a bit of a cliché, but do you really act on it?

    Try welcoming your customers in a way they don’t expect: take their coat, offer a glass of sparkling water and show them around. Get to know them personally and introduce them to each other. Act like you’re hosting a party in your store. Every day.

    Customers learn that your store is not just a place to buy more stuff, but it’s a place that connects them to their community.

    One coffee shop used red sleeves…
    A local coffee shop helped singles connect for Valentines. They created red coffee sleeves that single customers could put on their coffee cups. The red coffee sleeves let other singles in the coffee shop know they were interested in meeting other singles.

    Customers were able to connect with others in their neighbourhood. The red sleeves changed the usual coffee shop experience into one the customer would remember.

    Your unique customer experience
    Customers will enjoy a great experience in your store. If they enjoy it enough, they’ll be back again. They’ll tell some friends.

    That’s all great. And will help keep your store buzzing in the future. But what about now? What if you need to get shoppers in the door right away?

    That brings us to the next method to connect with customers.

    2) Engagement
    You want customers to be attracted, involved, loyal to your store. To get customers engaged, offer ways for them to get involved. One way to do this is to host clubs or groups on topics that are relevant to your customers.

    Bookstores host book clubs and writers’ groups. Sports stores become a meeting place for runners, hikers and cyclists. Eco-conscious retailers can organize environmental projects for customers to participate in. Stores selling products for babies & children can host mom meet-ups, or groups for stay-at-home dads.

    Engaging shoppers this way adds value to their experience in your store, and brings them in your door regularly. Engagement connects your store to the community.

    You can add even more value to that connection by giving shoppers an opportunity to learn something new.

    3) Education
    Add value to your product with education. When you educate your customers, they’ll see your store as more than just a place to buy more stuff. Your store becomes a source of valuable information.

    Offer education through seminars, workshops or classes. Don’t just stop at one class on a topic. Offer a series of classes on a topic that’s valuable to your customer. A series gets shoppers into your store more than once.

    Not only do customers learn and shop, but they connect with other customers that share their interests. They get to know you better and are likely to tell their friends about you.

    Art stores have scrapbooking classes. Hardware stores have do-it-yourself woodshop classes. A consignment fashion boutique offers workshops with a personal stylist. You can even go beyond classes to make education a focus of your business.

    Lululemon excels in delivering shopper education
    Lululemon is a Vancouver based yoga apparel company. Besides offering a schedule of yoga classes, and a well trained sales team, an entire section of their website is devoted to education. The website offers detailed information about the care and fit of the product.

    But the education focus goes beyond the product. This is where the company really stands out from the competition. One section provides advice on goal setting and a free goals worksheet to download. Under the ‘yoga info 101′ heading is a comprehensive description yoga styles, what to wear, local yoga instructors and classes, and yoga videos.

    Connect to your customers with education
    They’ll see your company as more than ‘just a store’, and keep coming back for more.

    You want to see your store humming.
    So, plug in.

    Attract customers with connection by offering:

    1) Experience
    Create an experience in your store that stands out. Get people connected to each other.

    2) Engagement
    Get shoppers involved. Create a club.

    3) Education
    Help your customers learn more. Not just about your product.
    Be more than ‘just a store’.

    Just like a washing machine, your store needs to be plugged in. Connect with your customers.
    And power up your shop.

    Recommended Product: Why Customers Aren’t Buying (And How To Fix It): The Pinwheel Principle

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    Why Exhibitionists Sell More Products

    During the 2010 Olympics, The Vancouver Art Gallery mounted a special exhibition. On display were Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawings and studies of anatomy. The wait in line to buy exhibition tickets was over an hour. To view the pieces in the exhibition, viewers dealt with crowds of people, all trying to see the amazing sketches.

    Art museums are retail
    Museums sell to consumers.
    They sell experiences.
    They sell education.
    And they sell merchandise.

    And museum curators are masters of display.
    Displays that attract customers. And not just any customers.
    These displays attract committed customers.
    Customers who put up with inconveniences for the chance to buy.

    Why would viewers pay money to look at a display?
    Why would they tolerate long lines and crowds?

    And why would they pay even more money after the exhibit? When leaving the Da Vinci exhibition, viewers happily bought exhibition catalogues and merchandise featuring reprints of Da Vinci’s work.

    Why was the exhibition so successful?

    It’s easy to say that viewers flocked to the exhibition because Leonardo Da Vinci is an olympian of art, science and invention. And it’s true that even if the exhibition was poorly presented, the museum would still have sold some tickets.

    But it’s the quality of the exhibit that made it so successful. Because viewers enjoyed the exhibition experience, they wanted to take their experience home with them. So they bought products. And told friends about the fabulous exhibition. The reputation, and ticket sales, of the exhibition grew.

    What made the Da Vinci exhibition and products so desirable?

    The Da Vinci exhibition employed techniques that work in retail displays as well as museum exhibitions. These three techniques create an engaging experience for customers. An experience that customers want to take home with them.

    1) Connect with your customers
    2) Tell a story
    3) Make your product relevant

    1) Connect with your customers

    The first technique is to connect with the customer’s interests or desires. Something they already know about. Something they already desire.

    Most people know at least a little about Leonardo Da Vinci. He’s admired around the world. The chance to see his sketchbooks up close, immediately connects with customer interest. Viewing this exhibition is recognized as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

    “But I’m not selling Da Vinci”

    Yes, it’s easy to create a connection if you’re putting Da Vinci on display. But what if you don’t have such a universally admired product to promote?

    You don’t have to sell Da Vinci.
    You just need to have a product that your customers value.
    Not all customers.
    Your customers.
    Just the customers who like what you do.
    And how you do it.

    The Da Vinci exhibition opened during the Olympics.
    But the gallery curators didn’t try to attract all the Olympic visitors.
    They didn’t have an exhibition about sports.
    They set out to attract Olympic visitors who appreciated art.
    They created an exhibition featuring an artist who had the qualities of an olympian.

    To connect with your customers, you just need to know what interests them. After hooking the customer with an interest or desire they already have, a great display maintains that interest with a story.

    2) Tell a story

    A great display tells a story. It doesn’t just show the customer what they already know. It adds to the customers’ experience by telling them something new.

    In the Da Vinci exhibition, each drawing had an interpretation. Just seeing the anatomical drawings in Da Vinci’s sketchbooks would have been interesting. At first. But viewers would soon get bored. Each sketchbook page was crammed with detailed sketches and notes. Notes that were written backwards, in mirror writing. In Latin. The average viewer wouldn’t have a clue what they were looking at.

    The interpretive panels told the viewers the story of the sketchbooks. They described when the books were found, and they translated the notes. Viewers could understand the sketchbooks better because of the story.

    In retail, story interprets merchandise for consumers. Without a story, a display is just a jumble of unrelated merchandise. When you tell a story, you can create themes for displays. Themes help you group relevant merchandise together. You can tell stories with merchandise and lighting alone, or you can use signs to help interpret the product for the customer.

    Restoration Hardware is an excellent example of a company that recently reworked their business strategy to tell a new story. Their store displays and catalogue tell a strong story of re-interpreted antiques and old world Europe. It’s not a story that appeals to everyone. But their new story certainly sets them apart from competitors. And enthralls the customers they want to attract.

    Not only do you need a story, but you need to make it relevant to your customers.

    3) Make your product relevant

    A great exhibition describes why the artwork or artifact is important. If viewers don’t know why it is important, they won’t be impressed by it. They may even be bored by what you have on display.

    When viewers see the anatomy drawings by Da Vinci, they can appreciate the great technical drawing skill. But it is easy to take the drawings for granted at first. In the 21st century, we are familiar with drawings of anatomy. We have similar information available at our fingertips. At first glance, we may not realize how remarkable Da Vinci’s drawings were in the 16th century.

    The exhibition described how incredible it was that Leonardo sketched from cadavers, without electric light, without refrigeration. No one had done this type of anatomical exploration before him. And no one else would discover that much about anatomy for another 300 years!

    When viewers understand the relevance of Da Vinci’s work in his own time, they can appreciate just how incredible his work was.

    When you describe why your product is relevant to your customers, that’s when they’ll understand it’s value. Let them know why the product is important.


    Museum exhibitions attract customers that pay to see displays, and then buy museum products. They buy so that they can go home with a piece of the show. They want to take their experience with them when they leave. You don’t need to be an olympian, or sell Da Vinci to create great displays that sell. All you need to do is to use the techniques that exhibitionists use.

    1) Connect with your customers

    Connect with the customer’s interests or desires. Get their attention with something they already know and desire.

    2) Tell a story

    Maintain customer interest with a story. Use the story to engage and enthrall the customer.

    3) Make your product relevant

    Describe why your product is relevant to your customers. Let them know why the product is important. Relevance will demonstrate the product value to customers.

    Museum exhibitions attract customers that pay to see displays, and then buy museum products. They buy so that they can go home with a piece of the show. They want to take their experience with them when they leave.

    Create a museum experience with your displays. Give your customers a reason to take the experience home with them. A reason to buy your products.

    Isn’t it time you created museum displays for your products?


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    How to Save Your Products From a Death Sentence

    Some people have green thumbs.
    I have black thumbs.
    A potted plant in my hands gets a death sentence.

    Not intentionally, of course. I love plants. But I struggle to keep them alive and healthy. I just don’t notice them. They’re in my peripheral vision, and I forget about them. Until it’s too late.

    Your products can suffer a death sentence too
    You know those places in your store where products languish and gather dust? Often it’s the bottom shelf. Products sit there, ignored by customers. The bottom shelf is like a product graveyard.

    We tend to place products in horizontal rows along shelves. If we have an empty shelving unit with products, often we’ll fill it like we read. We start at the top left, filling the shelf across to the right. Then we fill the next shelf down. And so on, and so on. Now, we may not always start at the top. But it’s extremely common to fill horizontally across each shelf.

    This is the habit that sentences your products to a slow death. You end up with products left on the lower shelves that no one sees. And no one buys.

    Why don’t shoppers notice products on the lower shelves?

    When product is merchandised horizontally, shoppers mostly see only what is at eye level. They scan the shelves by turning their head to the left or right, or by walking past. This leaves product on lower shelves ignored and unsold.

    How can you save your products from this demise?

    Shoppers are most likely to see merchandise that is presented between waist level, and eye level. Capitalize on this key selling area, and eliminate the death sentence by using vertical merchandising.

    What is vertical merchandising?

    Vertical merchandising means placing merchandise in vertical columns instead of horizontal rows.

    What are the benefits of vertical merchandising?
    Merchandising in vertical columns exposes more product options to shoppers. It makes it easier for them to see and compare product offerings.

    Vertical merchandising also improves the appearance and organization of the store. A wide product selection can look messy and overwhelming to customers. Presented consistently in vertical columns, a a large selection will appear organized and easy to shop.


    In the illustration below, the bottles of oils and vinegars are all presented vertically creating organized, attractive bands of colour. The shopper can scan across the entire selection at a glance.

    The same selection is presented on each shelf, so the bottom shelf is not a graveyard of unseen products.

    How do you use vertical merchandising?

    As products sell from the upper shelf, lower merchandise needs to be moved up to fill the spaces. The upper shelves remain full and attractive. The blank spots that remain are on the lowest shelf, where they are not as noticeable. When new stock is received, it is filled in on the lowest shelf.

    By rotating merchandise this way, the products sold first are the ones that arrived in the store first. Selling the oldest items first reduces the chances of products expiring, or sitting around gathering dust.

    So, what are you waiting for?

    Start merchandising your products in vertical columns. Make sure your customers can see what you have to offer, and get rid of the product death sentence.

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    How Displays Can Increase Sales: The Strawberry Shortcake Factor

    Imagine someone offered you some fresh, ripe strawberries to eat. They look pretty tempting. Would you have some? You might say yes. You might say no.

    What if you were offered shortcake and whipped cream with the strawberries?
    Now the temptation factor goes up. It’s not just strawberries, but strawberry shortcake. And you have more choices. You have more ways you can say yes.

    You can say yes to the strawberry shortcake topped with whipped cream.
    You can say yes to the strawberries and whipped cream.
    You can say yes to cake and strawberries.
    You can say yes to cake and whipped cream.
    You can say yes to strawberries.

    Most people will say yes to one of those options.

    What does strawberry shortcake have to do with displays?
    When you put a product on display, customers will choose yes, or no. When you add the strawberry shortcake factor, you increase the opportunities to say yes.

    In display lingo, this is often referred to as cross merchandising. Cross merchandising is taking related products from different categories, or departments, and displaying them together. This technique increases sales by showing customers what products work well together. Instead of buying just one item, shoppers often buy more than one.

    You can use this technique in your store. Add the strawberry shortcake factor to your display by adding products that compliment each other.

    A pet store has a new line of dog shampoo to promote. The display idea starts with the shampoo. Add the shortcake factor by imagining a situation where a customer would use the shampoo. What are all the supplies someone might use to give a dog a bath?

    • dog shampoo
    • towel
    • hair dryer
    • brush
    • other grooming accessories

    Now you have a group of products that create a strong theme for a display. Shoppers immediately associate the display with bath time. They might even imagine themselves giving their dog a bath.

    Some will realize they need shampoo, and buy it. Other customers might already have shampoo. But they might want to have a special dog hair dryer. Or a new brush. Or both.

    The display offers these shoppers more ways to say yes.

    The secret of the strawberry shortcake factor
    The shortcake factor is not the same as a jumble of unrelated merchandise. The secret of the shortcake factor is to display items that share a connection.

    When shoppers see the display, they should be able to imagine how the products go together. When they see cake, strawberries and whipped cream, they can imagine strawberry shortcake. When pet owners see dog shampoo, a towel and brush, they can imagine bath time.

    When shoppers imagine the products together, and imagine themselves using them, they are more likely to buy.

    So, what are you going to put in your next display?

    Use the strawberry shortcake factor

    Give your customers more ways to say ‘yes’ to what you have to offer.

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