Smart retailers constantly implement new programs, products and services to grow sales in their stores.
The pet industry continues to see strong growth, but at some point, sales will inevitably slow down. In fact, this may have already started to occur in your pet store.
The best pet retailers know that they can’t wait until the downturn to fix their problems. The key is to turn the tide of stagnating sales into long-term growth by adding new programs, products or even promotions to your sales plans. You can start that process today by implementing some—or all—of these sales growth ideas in your store.
Focus on Boomers and Millennials
Baby Boomers who are in their 60s and 70s have money to spend on their pets that will enhance and improve their lives. Sell products that make pet ownership easier for these Boomers, and create programs that are informational, educational and engaging for these pet parents and you will create a loyal customer base for years to come.
Focusing on your Gen Y customers who are at the opposite end of the customer demographic can create an equally exciting sales opportunity. Gen Y pet owners are treating their pets as family members—since they are often delaying getting married and having “real” kids—and this creates a sales opportunity for high-end products and services.
You can also increase sales and create loyalty from Gen Y customers by investing in mobile marketing programs, engaging them on social media, and by using enhanced in-store technology to show these customers that you use and appreciate technology as a resource, just like they do.
Use Social Networks as Shopping Platforms
Over the past several years, brands have used social media to market their products, talk to customers and even make merchandising decisions; but in the coming months, we anticipate merchants to add selling to the list of things they can do on social sites.
The recent launches of shopping functionalities in the social realm (e.g., Facebook’s and Twitter’s “buy” buttons, and Curalate’s Like2Buy platform for Instagram) tell us that social media is going to get a lot more shoppable in 2015.
Generate a Buzz
Whenever anything noteworthy happens within your business, send a press release to the media. The idea is to grab as much free coverage as possible. Get involved with community events. Consider hosting classes, meetings or other networking events in your retail store. Use a unique promotional event to generate a buzz about your business.
Design the Store for Sales
Take advantage of cross-merchandising strategies and impulse sale opportunities. Use lighting techniques and creative displays to attract customers. Play videos for product education, customer entertainment, and any other upsell or promotional tie-in.
Connect with Customers
Excellent customer service is the key to increasing sales. Listen to your customers to understand their needs and wants. Then, educate them about the products you offer. Finally, let customers know you appreciate their business. Offer value-added services and products. Create a mailing list by asking for contact information from each customer.
Evolve Loyalty Programs
Forward-thinking retailers will find additional ways to make each customer’s experience unique and memorable. Focus on improving customer loyalty.
Retailers should enhance and deliver imaginative efforts to reward and incentivize shoppers at a very personal level. In addition to giving away generic points, loyalty programs should be created to reward shoppers for their actions and engagement, rather than just their purchases.
Experiment with Technology
Merchants should experiment with technological innovations and figure out how they can use them to improve the shopping experience for customers. We’ll likely see more of the following in the coming year:
POS Technology—Initiatives to make the cash register extinct will continue to go strong in 2015. Cloud-based point-of-sale systems have proven that they can outperform old-fashioned registers in all aspects (performance, functionality and looks), and an increasing number of retailers will recognize this and make the switch.
Will you be one of the savvy merchants upgrading to a cloud-based POS system next year? Try Vend for free and see how it can help you transform your business in 2015.
Growing Mobile—Mobile will show no signs of slowing down next year, and we can anticipate smartphones and tablets to play bigger roles in the shopping journey. For, example, more retailers will introduce mobile loyalty programs. Shoppers will no longer have to clutter their wallets with physical cards. Instead, they can track and redeem their rewards using their smartphones through apps such as Collect.
Convenient services such as mobile ordering will also be more prevalent. Larger merchants, including BJ’s Restaurant and Chipotle are already implementing this, but thanks to solutions like Mobi2Go, small and mid-sized businesses can also get in on the mobile fun.
Bird On a Wire, an Auckland, New Zealand-based free-range rotisserie chicken joint, for instance, uses the solution to offer online and mobile ordering, and it’s worked out quite well for them. Owner Ben Grant told the Mobi2Go team that the service streamlined his business, “Mobi2Go mitigates big lines in the shop, integrates directly with our POS system Vend, and is an additional revenue stream for us. It works really well.”
It’s All About the Customer
To improve stagnating sales, you must create programs that improve the customer experience. Focus on the ways that your store can connect with customers and deliver value in 2015. Keep an open mind to new ways of producing customer value that you may not have ever used or implemented before. This will not only turn the tide of stagnating sales, it will make your store an engaging and exciting place to shop for years to come.
Lynn Switanowski is the founder of Creative Business Consulting Group based in Boston. She has worked as a consultant to the pet industry for more than 10 years, speaks regularly at pet industry shows, and writes frequently about business improvement and marketing programs to help pet retailers improve their performance. To learn more about CBCG or to contact Lynn, go to cbc-group.net.