With the early part of a new year often a quieter period for merchants, now is the time to start planning ahead and considering how to best lay the foundations for a successful 2020 sales strategy. Paul Lees, Tarmac’s National Business Manager (Packed Cement), offers advice on customer engagement and how merchants can boost basket spend.
Despite the ever growing presence and influence of digital marketing channels, there’s no getting away from the fact that what happens in store for merchants is crucial. And, in an increasingly crowded marketplace, it’s more important than ever for merchants to stay a step ahead of the competition. So, what simple steps can businesses take that can improve the customer experience and grow revenue?
Getting the basics right
An obvious starting point is to think of the journey that a customer will take from walking through your doors to the point of purchase. A successful branch exposes the customer to as much merchandise as possible without looking too cluttered — the more products customers see, the more they are likely to buy.
Begin by thinking about how your products are displayed and utilise as much space as possible. Making the most of an outdoor area, for example, can be a powerful way of drawing customers beyond the traditional aisles.
In addition, don’t underestimate the importance of factors like clean windows and good lighting, and the impact that these will have on visibility inside the store. All this will help create a welcoming and professional environment that will signpost customers more effectively to products, encourage better purchasing behaviour and repeat visits.
Margin erosion through unnecessary discounting can be a common problem for many merchants, so it is important to ensure that all customer-facing staff receive suitable training to tighten margin management. Understanding the basics, such as margin, mark-up, profit and net profit, is essential but cross-selling can also be an extremely effective way to grow revenue.
So, with a typical customer journey in mind, consider the role visual merchandising has to play. Using a Tarmac Cement Blue Circle product as an example, let’s think about the customer walking through the door to pick up a bag of Blue Circle Mastercrete cement. For many, this will be a single line purchase. And this is where savvy merchants can really stand out among the competition.
Displaying the product next to sand and aggregate, for example, offers an obvious opportunity to prompt the customer into additional spend. As obvious as it may seem, placing products in logical, eye-catching groups alongside attractive displays, will have an impact on your bottom line. Importantly, it will also improve the customer experience by ensuring your customers have the right products for the right project.
Point of sale
POS displays can be an effective method of promotion but, in too many cases, will often fall short. Countertop displays, cardboard units and pop-up displays carry a strong ‘act now’ message and appeal to a customer’s more impulsive nature, encouraging them to find out more about a product or brand.
Displays can be used to showcase new market trends or your current best-sellers. Getting a POS display right will be crucial to ensuring its success and careful thought should be given to how and where it is placed. Make sure that it’s eye-catching and will engage customers enough to make them react positively.
Becoming an expert
Perhaps the most effective tip, and one that is key to really cementing your reputation, is customer service. After all, well planned presentation and a carefully laid-out store can make a sale, but it takes great service for your customers to keep coming back.
Knowing your products inside out will, naturally, add value to the customer. Ask them questions about their project, their products and tools, offering advice on what they might need. You can also look to upsell by helping them to identify RMI tasks they may need to consider this spring, such as repairing patios or fence posts. Remember, though, to achieve the right balance — offer expertise without a pushy sales pitch.
There are so many ways merchants can grow revenue — and as well as boosting your bottom line, they are all simple, effective ways to also improve the customer journey. It’s a win-win for business and the customers. And, by growing your business and reputation, it’s a sure-fire way to stand out from the competition.
For more information online about Tarmac’s Blue Circle range of packed cements, visit https://tarmac-bluecircle.co.uk/trade/