Here’s What Your Options Are When Foot Traffic Is Down

When foot traffic isn’t delivering people to your store you have two choices, suggests The Retail Doctor:

  1. Get them to buy more when they’re in the store
  2. Compel them to come in more often

Keep in mind that it’s always easier to go with the first option because individuals who buy one product are more likely to buy another if you artfully suggest complementary products. This technique is referred to as cross-selling.

According to Map My Customers, the terms “cross-selling” and “upselling” are often used interchangeably in sales conversations, even though they’re actually two separate concepts. To better understand the differences between the two, check out the definitions and examples below:

Upselling is when a customer is offered a higher priced option or add-on to the product they are purchasing. Cross-selling is when the customer is presented with a complementary product or service not covered by the original product.

To demonstrate the distinction between upselling and cross-selling, we’ll refer to perhaps the two most well-known examples used by McDonald’s. “Would you like to Supersize that?” is the quintessential upsell, while “Would you like fries with that?” is a cross-sell. In other words, the first question has to do with adding to the product the customer is already purchasing, and the other is offering a completely different, but complementary, product.

“Upselling and cross-selling are closely related and useful in both increasing your profit and anticipating your customer’s needs. In order to be successful, though, you must thoroughly understand what your customer is looking for and offer them products at the appropriate time that demonstrate your understanding.”

~ Map My Customer

While the products may differ between restaurants and retail stores, the selling techniques and their approaches are similar. Here are 4 cross-selling tips you can use in your store:

1. Prepare your add-ons in advance

“Before a customer ever walks into the store, you should have a broad selection of complimentary items in your head,” says The Retail Doctor. “You obviously can’t be upselling every single item in the store, but you should have the general categories down pat.”

Examples of cross-selling include things like shoes and handbags, ties and blazers, watches and cufflinks, etc. If a customer plans to make a purchase from one category, you should already be thinking about cross-selling complementary categories for that item.

During down times, create cross-selling scenarios and have your employees suggest their pairing of merchandise. Make sure they’re able to justify what they selected and have them explain their reasoning.

2.  Make relevant product suggestions 

This add-on sales technique will only work if it provides more value to the customer. Make sure your cross-selling suggestions are relevant to the initial purchase, as well as the interests of the customer.

The relationship you build with customers before you get to the purchase will help your cross-selling efforts. Your rapport with customers will encourage them to tell you everything about themselves and how they intend to make use of your merchandise. At that point, you’ll be able to choose the additional items that are the most relevant.

3. Showcase complementary merchandise

“Complementary items and common pairings should be prominently displayed on the sales floor. It’s easier to cross sell to customers from a display when they can clearly see how the pairings work together,” advises The Retail Doctor.

Having to walk across the store to find a tie to match a blazer could result in losing the customer along the way. Items that are frequently sold together should be placed near each other. Don’t miss a great cross-selling opportunity because you put socks all the way across the store from the shoes.

4. Don’t be unreasonable

As The Retail Doctor points out, when a customer buys a $500 blazer, it’s perfectly reasonable to suggest a $50 tie. However, when a customer purchases a $50 tie, you shouldn’t try to sell them a $500 blazer.

The add-on items you suggest should never exceed more than a certain percentage of the original item’s cost. In the example above, you can see that the add-on is 10% of the original cost of the item. But some would put a reasonable add-on price at 25%, and still others would use a different number.

You’ll learn what works for your customers—especially when you have a good rapport with them.

The Takeaway

“Suggestive selling isn’t about trickery or misdirection; it’s an honest effort to give customers valuable additions while earning extra revenue,” states The Retail Doctor.

These suggestive selling tips (or cross-selling tips) are some of the easiest selling techniques you can use to increase average ticket size because a customer who’s willing to buy your product is probably ready to open their wallet to you again.

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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.