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Ways to help your Retail Customers Cope with the Cost of Living Crisis

There’s virtually nobody who isn’t feeling the pinch at present. The current cost of living crisis has hit everyone – from consumers to businesses who are worried about the rising cost of petrol and diesel, the hike in energy bills and shortages which have led to across-the-board increases.

It doesn’t matter if you’re an online operation or a bricks-and-mortar store, everyone is trying to retain their existing customers and win their share of the market.

People are wanting more bang for their buck and once you’ve realised this you need to look at incentives and offers which will keep your customers on board – and hopefully bring new ones your way.

How do you drive sales in retail?

Now more than ever, improving sales performance is bound to be high up on your agenda. But how do you do this during a cost-of-living crisis in ways that help your customers? One of the most important ways to keep your clients’ attention is to make them feel valued – and there are any number of cost-effective ways of doing this as part of your strategy for driving sales.

1. Give your customers more than they expect, but at a minimum cost to you. The general public are more strapped for cash, so every little helps when it comes to offers and discounts. Whether you’re an online operator or a bricks-and-mortar store, slip in a discount voucher with their order next time they shop. It’s an easy way to boost sales, at a low cost to your business.

2. Produce your own loyalty cards. This is a sure-fire of making customers return – and even may have the additional bonus of them spending more than they anticipated so they can rack up more points. Giving out a physical card also means your customer is likely to be carrying it with them in their bag or wallet all of the time – ensuring that your business is always front of mind.

3. Incentivise customers with “products of the week” and other promotions to get them shopping. Display a poster in your shop window, and post about it on social media so that shoppers both online and offline can see your amazing new deals.

4. Keep your employees happy. They will likely be impacted by the cost of living crisis too, so try to make them feel supported at this time. If you’re wondering how to drive sales performance in retail, then this is crucial. Incentivise your employees to go above and beyond. You could create an employee of the month scheme and provide them with vouchers or discounts to encourage them to shop. This should make them feel valued which in turn will make them want to help the business do better.

How to increase footfall in a retail store

If you have physical stores on the high street, the first hurdle to overcome is how do you get people to come to your store? The challenges facing the high street have been well documented in recent years, which is why looking at ways to increase footfall and traffic to your store is just as crucial as those sales. After all, it’s the first step to getting more sales in your physical shops on the high street.

During the cost of living crisis, it’s important that you have eye-catching, prominent and enticing marketing materials to get your customers through the door.

1. Create unique events to get people to your store. Events such as “sip and shop” evenings, where customers can get free drinks and nibbles as they browse the store, are a great way to entice feet through the door. Advertise on social media, or do it the traditional way with leaflet distribution.

2. Decorate your store to attract customers. Banners are a cost-effective way of advertising special deals in your store window. Advertise a new range, a sale or special deals – anything that can connect with your potential customers.

3. Form your own VIP club where, if they sign up, customers get invited to preview evenings, discount events or even the occasional gift voucher as a thank you. This could turn now-and-again customers into brand advocates, resulting in more footfall all year round.

4. Invite influencers or the local media to your store. Ask them to document and share their experience with their audience – although don’t forget the all-important goody bag with some branded items, like a coffee mug with your business logo on it, for them to take away!

All of the above are great ideas to drive retail sales when people are shopping less.

Growth strategy for small businesses

Arguably there couldn’t be a worse time for growing a small business when there is so much pressure. But for anyone who can think ahead of the curve and is really savvy, small business growth is more achievable than it may have previously seemed. Below are our top three tips to help grow your small retail business, while helping your customers during the cost of living crisis:

1. Use social media to talk to your customers. If you own a small business, you likely have a small team or are doing everything yourself. Whether it’s via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, use these platforms to ask your customers what they would like to see from you as a business. They may let you know the reasons why they have stopped shopping as much, and from this information, you might be able to help them.

2. Help your local community through fundraisers, or by volunteering for local charities. This will cost your small business little money, and by doing this you are helping your community while networking with others. In the long run, this could bode well for your small business.

3. Reward repeat customers with small discounts or offers. As you are a growing business, it’s important not to discount too much too early, but there is nothing wrong with rewarding those that shop with you more often. If you have noticed they are not shopping as frequently, it could be time to send them a personalised discount code to use. This will encourage them to shop while giving them more for what they pay for.

It can be a tough old world out there currently for retail but there are always positives – just think outside of the box, make sure your messaging is bold, visible and on brand and you should be able to weather the storm.

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