According to a 2016 Gallup poll, small business owners asked about the biggest financial challenges they face were most concerned with attracting customers and drumming up new business.
If you’re a boutique owner, we’re guessing you’ve spent a fair amount of time worrying about that too. So here are 10 ideas you can use to increase your in-store sales:
1. Know Your Customers
It’s really important to identify your customer segment in the boutique industry and then live inside of that. In fact, Econsultancy published an article emphasizing the fact that the majority of retailers simply don’t know enough about their customers to develop an effective marketing strategy and setting business goals.
“Customer data and insight are essential when shaping retail strategies, but all too often, key decisions are based on guesswork – following the latest trends, copying the competition or implementing a solution that isn’t aligned with company objectives and customer behavior.”
“I believe that being so particular is part of what has kept me in business,” says the owner of Malena’s Vintage Boutique.
Like Malena, you should curate your products based on the interests of your customer base to ensure that your inventory is relevant and in demand.
2. Hire the Right Staff
Your employees play a monumental role in your boutique’s success. Take great care in selecting your team and make sure they are thoroughly trained to ensure that they understand your customer service standards.
Hiring knowledgeable, welcoming employees to staff your boutique is also crucial in improving sales. Customers like to feel important and cared for. Employees who excel at providing personalized customer service can guarantee you a loyal customer base.
Make sure your employees know the importance of remembering names and preferences of repeat customers. Consider creating a file that details customer purchases. Your employees should regularly review this information so they are prepared to suggest products they know specific customers will like.
Create a network of boutique owners in your area, suggests Chron. Working together, the other boutiques in your network can recommend your store for particular items, and you can do the same for theirs.
Not only will this create goodwill, but it will help improve foot traffic for your boutique while supporting other small businesses in your community as well.
4. Take Advantage of Seasonal Opportunities
Every season provides opportunities to increase sales. If you own a clothing boutique, for example, you could promote complete outfits—including accessories like hats, shoes, purses, and jewelry—that are season appropriate. For spring you could promote umbrellas, rain boots, and stylish raincoats along with your new clothing line, while in fall you could feature mittens, scarves, beanies, and more.
You could also host seasonal wardrobe classes and offer exclusive deals to class participants. And don’t forget to have your customers post pictures of themselves—in items from your store—on their favorite social media platforms.
But you don’t have to just promote around national holidays. Create a holiday of your own based on fun items you sell at your store or unique services you offer. People love to celebrate, so give them a reason to do it at your store.
5. Invite Customers to Join You in Supporting a Cause
Promoting your boutique products while giving back can be a very effective revenue booster. Customers like to do business with companies who share their values.
Giving customers the opportunity to support a good cause just by buying products they need anyway can motivate them to spend while appeasing their social conscience.
One way to accomplish this is by letting customers know that a percentage of your profits will go to a charity or cause that your boutique has committed to helping.
6. Use the Right Technology
These days, shoppers research businesses and products before they pay a visit to the store. That means you need to provide consumers with consistent, real-time data on the items you carry to ensure that you can meet their needs.
According to Entrepreneur, . . . “the point of sale is more than just the place where the money comes in. With the right equipment, it becomes your strategic service center, the place that will help you grow your business and keep your customers coming back.”
When your website inventory is powered by a fully integrated point of sale system, your life as a boutique owner will get easier. Why? Everything is synced across the website and POS so consumers can Google your store to see what’s in stock without you having to worry about whether their inventory is accurate. Plus, the POS and website will always update simultaneously any time products are added or sold, saving you time and money.
7. Inspire Impulse Purchases
According to a CreditCards.com poll, five out of six shoppers in the U.S. admit to making impulse purchases—79% of those taking place in physical storefronts.
That’s why placing small, inexpensive items at the checkout counter can really boost sales. The products you select should be fairly inexpensive and complement other items in your store.
If you have a fashion boutique, for example, consider placing coin purses, nail polish, and/or costume jewelry near the register for your customers to browse while they’re waiting in line.
8. Get Customer Feedback
Nobody knows your customers better than they know themselves. Listen to what they have to say so you can develop a solid understanding of what they need and want. Then offer value-added services and products based on their feedback.
Customers will appreciate your willingness to listen and improve, making them more likely to remain loyal to your brand and tell others about your boutique.
9. Don’t Forget to Manage Your Money
While this may seem obvious, as a small retailer it’s easy to become so involved with the little details of your business that you lose track of your financials.
As The Balance suggests, you should stick to a budget, know where every dime is being spent, monitor cash flow, and control inventory.
10. Invest in Omnichannel
Did you know that companies with omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers?
“Today’s consumers shop across multiple channels and multiple devices. They may find something online and then head into the store to make the purchase. Or conversely, they may be at a brick-and-mortar location, see an article of clothing they like but not in the correct size, and then pull out a tablet to check inventory and make the purchase. Any number of scenarios like this exist but the most important aspect of omnichannel is that each of these channels are interconnected to provide a seamless experience and connected purchase journey.”
Having a website is a necessity, and using social media is a great way to raise brand awareness, connect with customers and promote your products and events. But if you really want to make the most out of your online presence and your brick and mortar store, you need to unify them into an omnichannel strategy.
There are so many ways that you can increase sales in your boutique. Just remember to nurture loyal customer relationships as you try to attract new shoppers!
Whether you use the 10 tips in this article or come up with your own ideas for improving in-store sales, keep your focus on the customer. If you can consistently fulfill their needs and wants with a convenient and seamless experience, your boutique will always remain relevant and in demand.
An Omnichannel Solution
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Also published on Medium.