How to Increase Sales in Retail Clothing Stores [Post-COVID]
by Dimitris Tsapis
December 8, 2020
The pandemic-related lockdowns have created an unprecedented challenge for retailers. Most are still trying to recoup their losses from the past few months, while cautiously thinking of their next moves.
Truth is, the landscape has changed significantly. More customers are shopping online while many physical stores all around the world declare bankruptcy, not knowing how to adapt to the situation.
For this reason, our team prepared a short and actionable list with some of the best things you can do right now to get back on track. The following points will help you understand how to increase sales in retail clothing stores in these uncertain (yet full of opportunities) times.
- How to increase sales in retail clothing stores (2020 and beyond)
- Set up Google My Business
- Buy online, pick up in-store (click & collect)
- Set motivating but realistic goals
- Emphasize on your digital presence (at least for now)
- How to increase sales volume in brick and mortar stores
- Create a safe environment
- Consider hosting a recovery sales outlet
- Make employees aware of temporary changes
- Summing up
How to increase sales in retail clothing stores (2020 and beyond)
This year, its not just about doing more than your competitors - it’s all about adjusting to existing trends and maximizing your digital presence.
Set up Google My Business
Since a lot more customers are currently shopping online, you are best off utilizing all opportunities to increase your digital visibility. Google My Business (GMB) is a great starting point for hybrid stores - brands with both an online presence and physical store location(s).
In short, GMB helps your business become more visible in Google, whenever potential customers type in your brand’s name. Here is an example of how clothing retailer Zara comes up in Google’s search results:
The page will show everything from the store’s details and photos to ratings and average price point. As you can see, Zara has both a physical store (in the location we are searching for) and a website in the first position of the search results. This is one of the most popular ways in which hybrid business models maximize their exposure, and thus, their sales.
How to set up Google My Business
Buy online, pick up in-store (click & collect)
Another trend that is slowly becoming more popular is the “click & collect” concept.
According to Stephan Serrano at Barilliance, click & collect is an “omnichannel retail strategy where shoppers order their items online and pick them up in-store.” This hybrid concept combines the digital and physical retail experience for a more pleasant customer experience.
By buying products online and picking them up in the store, customers:
- Make sure that their packages are not stolen from the front door (which happens more than you’d expect);
- Still get the pleasant experience of visiting the store;
- Return easily if the customer requires a different size;
- Save on the shipping fees.
While this concept has been around for quite a while, COVID-19 has certainly accelerated its adoption, given that customers no longer need to spend a long time in the store to discover the item they are looking for.
Set motivating but realistic goals
Goals, or sales targets, play an important role when it comes to increasing retail revenue. However, you will need to be smart when setting them. A goal that is too optimistic may be motivating, but it may not be achievable in a post-COVID market.
When planning ahead, make sure you keep this in mind, to ensure that employees remain motivated.
Kevin Graff, an expert in retail-related strategies, points out the following:
“Goals should be achieved at least 70% of the time. If not, they’re too high and risk de-motivating your staff. By the same token, if goals are achieved 90% or more of the time they’re too low and aren’t pushing your staff.”
As soon as you set sales targets, make sure to let your team know and have them track progress consistently. A great way to go about this is to use your POS system’s reporting features.
Emphasize on your digital presence (at least for now)
When brainstorming on how to increase sales in retail clothing stores, most marketers will divide their efforts into activities that either increase foot traffic or web traffic (or activities that increase both). For example:
- A community event or improved in-store visuals aim to increase foot traffic.
- A free shipping time-bound offer aims to increase web traffic
- Promoting the benefits of a loyalty program can increase both foot and web traffic.
Obviously, each segment will require its own strategy and budget, both of which will be based on past historic performance. However, keep in mind that the buying behaviour of the average customer has changed completely. Since the start of the pandemic-induced lockdowns, online sales have increased massively.
This means two things:
- Retail stores will most likely increase their sales by allocating the majority of their efforts and budget on increasing web traffic.
- Promotional strategies that aim to increase foot traffic should also (indirectly) make users aware of e-commerce alternatives and the benefits thereof (signing up to newsletter or loyalty program).
How to increase sales volume in brick and mortar stores
Here are a few more tips you can benefit from to improve sales in recently re-opened physical store locations.
Create a safe environment
Have you noticed how most physical stores now have an antiseptic gel at the entrance of their stores?
Creating a safe environment shows that you value your customers’ health and safety. And taking actionable steps to ensure this is easy. Here are some things you can do right now:
- Make sure you deliver health and safety information via all your digital channels. Inform customers that your store is following all the safety protocols and point out the temporary changes that you are implementing for that reason.
- The in-store experts need to ensure a pleasant shopping experience. This includes the store’s cleanliness and monitoring the number of people that enter the store simultaneously.
- If you haven’t done so already, consider adding plexiglass shields at the checkout counter.
- Make sure you have a batch of masks in-store to hand out when needed. While many locations have made indoor mask usage mandatory, not all customers are aware of it.
- While it may seem unpleasant, try to think of creative ways for sales to inform customers about social distancing measures, without coming off as rude.
Consider hosting a recovery sales outlet
If you had to close down for an extended amount of time, chances are that the revenue projections are not where you expected them to be at the moment. And while sales number may not reach their previous peaks by the end of the year, you can implement tactics to “catch up” with your goals.
One of the ways to do this is a recovery sales outlet, or better yet, a “comeback” sale. Apart from bringing in fast cash, this type of sale will also act as a great marketing “hack” to let potential customers know that you are open again.
Make employees aware of temporary changes
Employee performance is an often-overlooked factor that can lead to an increase in sales. We have previously talked about retail staffing and how to help employees perform at their best so we won’t go deep into specifics here. However, take the following points into consideration:
- The sales representatives should have in-depth knowledge of your brand and not require extensive training to make decisions.
- Make sure that employees are aware and abide by current social distancing measures.
- Finally, ensure that they are equipped with the right tools to help customers in a personalized manner and helping them find what they are looking for quickly.
When setting up a retail action plan to increase your conversions, it is best to consider and abide by existing market conditions. This should be the main takeaway for those wondering how to increase retail sales during out period of economic uncertainty.
While this shift in buying behaviour may only be temporary, it should offer new insights and ideas to increase sales in retail stores. To sum up, here are some of the tactics you can implement:
- Set up Google My Business
- Implement click & collect options
- Set motivating but realistic goals
- Emphasize on digital marketing (for now)
- Create a safe environment for your customers
- Host a recovery sales outlet
- Inform your employees
You should not know how to increase sales in retail clothing stores. So wait no longer - start implementing the points discussed above and you are on a good way to redeem your sales targets.
Frequently Asked Questions
With the COVID19 pandemic constantly changing the way stores operate, you might still have questions that remain unanswered. In the following sections we will attempt to offer more information to help you get a better understanding of the ways to increase sales in retail store locations.
How to increase sales in retail clothing store during the holiday season?
In recent announcements, the Christmas and New Year's shopping spree has been cancelled, at least for 2020. This leaves many retailers worried about their income, as many do not have an online presence to operate from. Here are some tips to improve your situation, at least for the next few weeks:
- If you don't have an online store, consider creating a social media page and run ads on holiday products.
- In the meantime, try to setup at least a basic e-commerce store where the ads can lead to.
- Offer free shipping for all products and free local delivery within a certain timeframe.
- If you only work with the local population try to personalize the experience by adding a hand-written note.
- Shift your focus from "how to increase store sales" to "which channels can I best utilize at the moment".
How to increase sales in online clothing store when it's just developed?
To increase sales, you will first need to increase exposure. Similar to foot traffic, more visitors will eventually lead to more sales, given your offer is structured right. Here are some tips on how to do so:
- Explore the concept of Google ads or hire someone to do it for you. If you wish to try it out on your own, we recommend checking this course.
- Apart from setting up your Google My Business listing, try to rank for different industry-related keywords through your blog section, by writing SEO optimized content. New websites may not see results immediately, but your efforts will compound over time.
- Learn how to increase clothing sales by exploring competitors that have been working on their online presence longer that you.
- Finally, when trying to learn how to increase sales in clothing retail stores, its important to stay up to date with industry relevant trends. You can learn more about these by reading upon the latest retail technology trends.
How to increase sales in retail stores that remain open but have lost the majority of their foot traffic?
Here are some good ideas to consider if you have temporarily lost a lot of foot traffic:
- If you have some for of loyalty or CRM strategy, you should have an email list of existing customers. Start sending a regular newsletter to your audience to generate top of mind awareness.
- If you are already send newsletters on a frequent basis, try to adjust your subject line to increase your open rates, and add strong calls to action towards new offers.
- Consider creating webinars or other forms of online events to help your audience resolve the main problem you, as a business, help them with.