Retail expert, Catherine Erdly gives small business advice on growing your sales in three effective ways…
Ask most product entrepreneurs what their goals are for their business, and most of them will talk about growing their sales.
When asked for more details, they usually say that they want to get more customers. In other words, they want more people visiting their website, to increase their Instagram followers or see an uplift in orders from their other sales channels.
But did you know that many people are focused primarily on only one method of growing their sales (getting more customers), and overlooking two others that can make a major difference to the profitability of their business?
In this article, I will be outlining all three methods so that you can track and see if you are growing your sales every way that you can.
The first method – getting more customers
As I mentioned in the introduction, this method is the one that most companies think about when they look to grow sales.
It is what they are aiming their social media efforts at, or spending money on advertising to achieve.
Getting a steady stream of new traffic onto your site or in through your doors should absolutely be a key priority, however, arguably, you should be more focused on your conversion rate.
The reason for this is that if you can improve your conversion rate, your sales will grow without the need for more followers, or the need to spend money on advertising.
Your conversion rate is calculated by taking the number of sales you have in a certain period (e.g. the last week or last month) and dividing it by the number of visitors that you had.
So, if you sell 2 items in a week and had 100 visitors, you had a 2% conversion rate (2/100, expressed as a percentage).
This is something that you can calculate easily for a website, or relatively easily for a physical shop.
In a physical shop, you just need to keep a simple tally chart of the number of people who come into the shop each day (or use a clicker counter) and compare that to the number of sales that you have.
The typical conversion rate for an e-commerce site is around 2%. A physical space will be much higher, with anywhere from 25 – 50% being typical.
However, you should be comparing yourself not to others, but to what your current conversion rate is. If you can improve that, your sales will increase as you make better use of your existing visitors.
Any time and effort that you spend on improving your online or instore conversion rate will pay big dividends when it comes to growing your business as it allows you to get more new customers from the people who are already interested and visiting you rather than on spending money and effort to acquire new people.
Improving conversion rates is a blog topic in its own right, but my top tips are:
Check the quality of your photography
Check how compelling your product descriptions are
Are you really painting a picture for your customers of how great they are?
Do you have an about page that explains who you are and why the business is important to you?
Conversion rates in a physical space are often about the customer service you are offering to your customers.
Is each customer being greeted appropriately?
Are your best selling items placed in a prominent place so that customers can easily see them?
Is your store layout clear and easy for a customer to follow?
Keep tweaking and refining until you see the conversion rate improving.
The second method – getting each customer to spend more
Instead of focusing on getting more new customers, another way to drive sales that is often overlooked is measuring and increasing the ATV or average transaction value.
This is calculated by taking the total sales value of your orders and dividing it by the number of orders that were placed:
E.g. Your sales were 300 across 5 orders.
Your average transaction value (ATV) is 300/5 = 60.
If you can increase the amount spent by each customer to 66, your sales will increase by 10% without the need to get any more customers than you already have.
Monitoring your ATV on a weekly or monthly basis will help you track how you are moving this number forward.
Ways to increase your ATV include:
Changing the mix of your higher price items vs. lower price items If you are mostly selling lower price items, can you promote more of your higher-priced items in your marketing and social media to encourage customers to buy those instead?
Bundles – increasing your number of gift sets/putting together products into bundles at a small discount. (e.g. total price is 35, you offer it at 32). This naturally increases the average amount of money spent by each customer.
Catherine Erdly has over 19 years experience working with product businesses of all sizes from high street names (such as Paperchase, Laura Ashley and Coast), all the way down to brand new businesses with just a handful of customers.