4 Tips That Will Help You Sell More in Retail

As a small retail store owner, you’ve probably used a lot of time and resources in trying to improve your foot traffic. But, what do you do once potential customers walk in your doors—leave their potential purchases up to chance, good fortune, or luck?

There’s a better way to sell more in retail. Below you’ll find four key tips and insights that you can teach to your staff or apply yourself to help you sell more and build greater customer loyalty that will result in continued repeat sales.

1. Make a Good First Impression

It takes one-tenth of a second for customers—or anyone for that matter—to form a first impression of you.

According to social scientist Amy Cuddy, when we form a first impression of someone, we actually form two. First, we’re trying to determine how warm and trustworthy the person is, and second, we’re forming answers to the questions, “what are this person’s intentions towards me?” and “how strong and competent is this person?” These two elements make up 80-90% of an overall first impression.

The last thing you want is for potential customers to walk into your store and feel suspicious or uncomfortable about you or one of your staff. So what can you do about it?

First of all, make sure you and your staff look presentable. Just as you wouldn’t want to have your hair cut by someone who’s own hairstyle is out of date, if your retail establishment specializes in trendy apparel, you don’t want your employees to look frumpy or unkempt.

Secondly, pay attention to how you greet your customers. In a study that looked at ways to increase room service tips for waiters in hotels, researchers discovered that there was a quick, easy, and simple way to encourage better tips: starting all interactions with a positive comment.

As hotel guests opened the door, waiters greeted them with a cheery “good morning” and offered a positive weather forecast for the day. Researchers found that one single positive comment increased tips by 27%.

You can apply this concept to your retail store customers by starting your communication off with a  positive comment about anything from the weather to weekend plans or a favorite sports team. Ask your customers questions that will help you understand their interests and needs. Research has proven that just five minutes of “small talk” before a negotiation increases the amount of value created during the interaction.

Another thing to be mindful of is badmouthing your competitors. Yes, it can be hard to keep your mouth closed when a consumer brings up a competing business, but speaking negatively about the competitor and/or their product will have the opposite effect of what you intended.

That’s because, as social scientists explain, anytime you say bad things about someone else, people automatically associate those same traits with you in what’s referred to as spontaneous trait transference. So keep it positive or don’t say anything at all.

2. Recognize Your Role in the Customer’s Journey

According to The Retail Doctor, several studies, as much as 70-80% of the buyer’s discovery journey has been completed before they reach your doors. Product information is no longer the primary reason shoppers are coming into your store. They are looking for an affirmation of their choice.

Don’t try and take charge of the conversation and pepper the customer with product information without listening first. Many times, customers are unaware that there are better options or choices that they may not have discovered in their search. That’s the area you and your employees should focus on.

“The modern retailer now must understand that the employee role is more of a catalyst, one who adds to the journey of the customer and ultimately ends in a sale.” 

Source: The Retail Doctor

Since most customers aren’t going to come into your store and declare “The sky’s the limit!”, you and your staff need to get customers to let you into their world so you can understand what they are trying to fix, solve or replace.

 3. Watch Your Body Language

With roughly 90 percent of communication being nonverbal, it’s somewhat surprising how little significance we place on body language and other nonverbal cues.

Have you ever given much thought to the body language you use in the retail sales environment? Here are a few things to pay attention to so you can increase your chances of making a sale.

If shoppers can see your employees—even if they’re outside your store—then how associates behave in-store may affect people’s decision to walk in.

Bored-looking sales staff or employees slumped over the sales counter, for example, can be a turnoff to potential customers who are debating whether to shop at your store. You can prevent this by making sure your staff members are always mindful of how they look and act, even when there aren’t any customers inside the store. Your employees should appear industrious and welcoming at all times, so shoppers passing by will be more likely to come in.

To ensure that your retail store is sending out good vibes and attracting customers, you need to recognize that your store’s presentation—including your sales associates—is essentially a marketing tool that can be used to boost foot traffic and in-store revenues.

4. Giving Customers More Choices Isn’t Necessarily a Good Thing

Did you know that consumers are more likely to buy jams from a seller offering a selection of only 6 alternatives than a seller offering 24 or more options? That’s the word from the famous study “When Choice is Demotivating”, conducted by professors Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper.

Additionally, communication expert Carmine Gallo suggests retailers focus more on the “Rule of Three,” which works off the premise that peoples short term memory can only remember about three pieces of information at a time. In other words, offering too many choices can actually end up frustrating consumers.This applies to all aspects of retailing, including communication, marketing, and visual merchandising.

For retailers doing business in a world governed by short attention spans and endless competition, it’s crucial to make it as easy as possible for consumers to make a purchasing decision. The rule of three will help you accomplish this because in most cases, consumers aren’t interested in simply buying a product; they’re  looking to fulfill a need of some kind.

They don’t require endless choices. They just need the right choice. Presenting them with no more than three options will prevent them from getting too overwhelmed and make the decision process faster and more fulfilling.


As a small retailer, you use a lot of much time and energy getting potential customers to visit your store. So don’t drop the ball and let them fend for themselves once they’ve walked through your doors. Make sure you’re fully engaging your customers with positive communication, welcoming body language, good product choices over lots of choices, and most of all…a willingness to listen and help them find the products that will enrich their lives.

“Customers are looking to upgrade their lives with their purchase from your retail store…Learn to be a natural, trusted advisor who sells side-by-side in partnership with your customer.”


Source: The Retail Doctor

Use the tips and insights above to help you sell more and build greater customer loyalty that will result in continued repeat sales.

Sherene Funk is the author of the contemporary romance Autumn in Your Arms and two small business e-books. She is a voracious reader who owns more books than she can ever read in this lifetime. A graduate of Brigham Young University, she worked in advertising for many years before moving to her current writing position at Rain Retail Software. She researches non-stop to see what successful retailers do and loves to share what she learns with small business owners.