As stores clear out their summer stock ready for autumn, competition is fierce. Steve Richardson, UK & MEA Director at ShopperTrak, looks at what can retailers do to stand out and generate as many conversions as possible.
While summer sales are often viewed in retail as a stock clearance exercise, for many shoppers across the UK, the heart-stopping hunt for bargains is an annual retail highpoint. Fired up by the prospect of end-of-season discounts, shops can be heaving, and it’s the outlets with the best deals, best product and best shop-floor service that secure the most sales and build lasting loyalty.
Retailers in the UK, often use the tactic of dropping prices over the long sales season to keep interest alive, stock moving, and tills ringing until late August/early September.
According to The Office for National Statistics (ONS) UK retail sales increased by 0.7% in July, ahead of expectations. Clothing sales recorded their strongest year-on-year growth since December, which was helped by sales promotions.
Online shopping now accounts for a record 18.2% of all spending in the UK, a rise on last year of more than 15%. That boom was helped in the last month by a splurge of promotions by online shopping sites that increased sales, including Amazon Prime Day, which continues to gain momentum.
Offer good customer service
Even if the product is not full-price, your customers still expect and deserve a good experience in stores. Staff availability and customer service are the most prominent areas where gains can be made in physical retail. This applies particularly at summer sale time for fashion retailers, when lack of assistance at the fitting rooms can put off a non-essential purchase in seconds. Aligning staff rosters to known patterns of visits during the busy summer sales peaks is essential. Use your traffic data to ensure store resourcing is optimised, and this should stop bargain hunters walking out empty-handed. Even small details such as greeting customers at the door, or offering a free cold drink in-store, can make all the difference.
Staff and tech can streamline payment
One of the main pain points for customers at sale times is waiting to pay. Make sure you have ample payment points, as well as staff training and scheduling to maximise speed of processing. Implementing an EPOS that has the capability to function on mobile devices, such as iPads, is a worthwhile investment. With these devices staff can often provide stock information to customers on the go, as well as processing payments from anywhere in the store. Using traffic data to understand when the rush to pay is most likely, will help staff cope with these peaks in demand and ensure service levels are upheld.
Get closer to customers with mobile marketing
Shoppers are likely be on the move during summer, relying heavily on their mobile phones and other devices for information and connectivity. A mobile marketing campaign will allow you to maximise your chances to engage with clients. An app is a great way to showcase your business and seasonal deals, and with streamlined messages across mobile devices and in the store, you’ll impress customers with joined-up communications, that will give them both great prices a good experience. Measuring the traffic uplift and improvement in conversion rates will give the marketing department rich data on which to plan future campaigns.
Use data to cut the chaos
While a busy store during summer sales is what retailers hope for, the reality of this can be frustrating, even uncomfortable, for customers. Organising your store in a way that makes the shopping journey as convenient and intuitive as possible will ensure shoppers have a pleasant time and keep coming back in the future. Interior analytics will give powerful insights into which parts of stores are too cramped at peak times, and which are under-utilised. Remember to use clear signage to indicate where summer sale items can be found, highlight your best offers, and ensure easy access to those areas.
Push your full price ranges too
Maintaining visual appeal will help encourage dwell time of customers who are already in-store and will tempt in passers-by throughout the sales period. By also displaying new, full-price ranges adjacent to known store ‘hotspots’ you’ll add interest for shoppers and could drive up Average Transaction Values if your customers like what they see. Traffic analytics will reveal which types of stores are converting well with new ranges above others, so that the pricing strategy can be tailored to local audiences.
Going the extra mile for your customers is always worthwhile, and pleasing shoppers at summer sale time could be great timing for brand-building, as we head towards peak trading season. The ability to provide a seamless service to customers, tailored according to store data insight, will help you stand out from the competition.
By Steve Richardson
UK & MEA Director,