5 Ways to Drive Customer Conversion Rates in Your Stores

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5 Ways to Drive Customer Conversion Rates in Your Stores

By Mark Ryski - 07/27/2011

Everyday prospects visit your stores with the intent to buy, but leave without making a purchase. Getting your store to capture even a few more of these lost sales can have a significant impact on overall sales results.

To clarify, “store traffic” isn’t the same as your sales transaction count. Sales transactions only capture the buyers; store traffic includes buyers and non-buyers. If you believe that everyone who comes into your store buys, you’re wrong. Furthermore, without store traffic counts, you can’t even calculate your conversion rate!

To a great extent, retail sales has been a two-trick pony: Drive more prospect traffic and increase average ticket. Driving conversion rate is the third trick every retailer needs to learn -- even grocery retailers. Improving your in-store conversion rate isn’t hard to do, and the suggestions below will help:

  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 lineups, can’t find sales help, out-of-stocks, poor merchandising -- the list goes on. There are reasons that people visit your store and don’t buy, and you need to understand why.
  2. Align Your Staff to Traffic, not Transactions: It sounds simple enough, but this is one 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.
  3. Look for Conversion Leaks and Plug the Holes: Traffic volume and conversion rates tend to be inversely related. When traffic is high, conversion tends to go down or sag. Look at the traffic and conversion patterns in your store by day of the 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 is important. 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 that conversion targets should be set uniquely by store.
  5. Make Conversion a Team Sport: From the cashiers and sales associates to the merchandisers, everyone in the store plays a role in driving conversion. Conversion is a simple measure of how well the whole store is doing at helping people buy, so get everyone involved.

Mark Ryski is the founder and CEO of Edmonton, Alberta-based HeadCount, a leading analytics firm specializing in store traffic and conversion and serving retailers across North America. He’s also the author of When Retail Customers Count and Conversion: Last Great Retail Metric. Website: www.headcount.com