Thursday, December 20, 2012

Turn High-Traffic Day Visitors Into Regular Customers

This article was written by Connie Certusi , BusinessNewsDaily Contributor, 7 Dec 2012, reprinted by permission

High-traffic days, such as holidays, are an opportunity for small businesses to establish themselves as a shopping location/website of choice and increase their customer base. And these do not need to be only seasonal windows of opportunity. Busy times can be a launch pad to increased visibility and more engaged customers while providing momentum for the rest of the year. Connie Certusi, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Sage Small Business Accounting Solutions, suggests the following for making the most of high-traffic days and leveraging the customer insights gained:

Be on your best behavior — High-selling seasons such as holidays or back-to-school shopping have the potential to attract new customers and, as such, you should be prepared to shine. Be ready to showcase or offer samples of your best products or services and pay particular attention to your customer service. You get one shot at impressing visitors so don't spare any effort or appropriate expense in achieving this goal.

Incentivize your customers — If you want to increase the probability of first-time customers purchasing your products or services again, you may want to offer a gift or discount that can be redeemed on their next visit. One efficient way to give out coupons is investing in a payment terminal that automatically prints discounts along with the customer's receipt. Coupon details can be programmed and customized in advance, saving you the time and trouble of remembering to provide the coupon every time you help with customers' purchases.

Social Media — Use social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to promote your deals and encourage conversations about your business . Present your followers with a discount or gift when they visit you, bring a friend along or recommend your business on their profiles. After those high-traffic days, encourage people to write reviews of your business and their customer experience.

Track customers and best-selling items — Keeping records of the clients who visit your business on busy days can aid customer retention. For starters, be sure to get their email address, and put systems in place to track their purchases. This information gives you an opportunity to thank customers for shopping and reward them with exclusive offers. It also helps you understand customers' shopping behaviors better when planning how to retain their business. Additionally, track what sells best and what extra inventory is leftover afterward to identify sales trends, potential discount items and if additional staffing will be needed in the next busy period. Depending on your size and needs, consider either a contact management or customer relationship management tool to track these relationships more effectively, and an accounting system that can track inventory details and purchasing habits for your customers.

Cash in on mobility — Worldwide, businesses big and small are experiencing the many benefits of integrating mobility into their operations. Canadian menswear retailer Harry Rosen Inc., for example, uses a Sage customer management system its sales associate's access via in-store kiosks or their personal devices. Associates have customers' preferences about garments and tailoring sizes as well as details about average purchases per visit at hand whenever assisting someone. Since the mobile app is web-based, associates never need to download information to their devices and are disconnected from each store's network once they step outside. The CRM strategy has helped the company capture 40% of its market.

If you haven't tried mobility yet, consider testing a few tools during your business' next high-selling season. Have your employees use a mobile payment tool via smartphone while assisting customers in the store, or look up inventory on a trial mobile app. You can also mobilize your customer data onto smartphones and tablets so sales associates can use the information to make purchase recommendations when speaking with loyal customers. After the trial, you can better determine if implementing mobile tools can further help improve your sales and customer service