Five ways to turn browsers into buyers

1. Understand why people don’t buy

One of the most important things a retailer can do to improve conversion rates is to understand why people don?t buy. Long till line ups; can?t find sales help; out-of-stocks; poor merchandising ? the list goes on. There are reasons why people visit your store and don?t buy and you need to understand it. Every store manager should spend some time observing visitors in his/her store. Resist the temptation to help; just observe the behaviors. Watch customers as they move through your store, and it won?t take long for you to identify some actions you can take to turn more visitors into buyers.

2. Align your staff to traffic not transactions

Sounds simple enough, but this something many retailers overlook. Staff scheduling is tricky at the best of times, but aligning your staff resources to when prospects are in your store will help you maximize your chances of converting more of them into buyers. Pay particular attention to lunchtime, when store traffic can be way up, but staff lunch breaks can seriously drag down conversion rates. Yes, employees need to eat ? but customers also need to be served. Matching staff schedules to traffic volume and timing in your store will help improve your chances of converting more browsers.

3. Look for conversion leaks and plug the holes

Traffic volume and conversion rates tend to be inversely related. That is, when traffic is high, conversion tends to go down or sag. When traffic levels are low, conversion rates tend to go up. It?s not hard to understand why this happens. When the store is busy, till lines are longer and it?s harder to get help from an associate. The opposite is true when the store isn?t as busy. So, if you want to improve conversion rates, look at the traffic and conversion patterns in your store by day of week and by hour to look for when conversion rates are sagging ? these sags represent the times when sales are being lost.

4. Set conversion targets by store

Having goals and targets are important if you want to improve results. If you don?t have a conversion target for your store, you need to set one. It?s important to remember that every store is unique and conversion targets should be set uniquely by store. One store might be doing well with a 15 per cent conversion rate while another may be underperforming even though it has a 30 per cent conversion rate. The trick is to move your own conversion rate up relative to your store?s performance.

5. Make conversion a team sport

It takes the collective effort of all staff to help turn prospects into buyers. From the cashiers and sales associates to the merchandisers ? everyone in the store plays a role. So don?t think of conversion as merely some business metric, but rather a simple measure of how well the whole store is doing at helping people buy. A good way to help improve conversion is to make sure all your employees understand what conversion is and that each of them helps influence it. Ask your staff about why they think people don?t buy and what the store can do to improve conversion rate. Discuss targets, get them to buy-in and share results. Get them excited about moving the conversion needle and you will significantly improve your chances of actually doing it.??

Mark Ryski is the founder and CEO of HeadCount, an analytics firm specialising in store traffic. He is also the author of “Conversion: The Last Great Retail Metric”.

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