Retail sales are expected to grow by 3.1 percent in 2016, but that doesn’t mean businesses don’t have slow days now and then. Sluggish sales impact different businesses at different times. The key is to have a few marketing ideas “on the ready” to increase business during the quiet times.
To help small businesses prepare for those slow days, here are five ways to boost sales when the register has cooled down:
1. Host a flash sale
A flash sale can get customers in the door, and doesn’t require a lot of work on your part. A flash sale is a quick sale hosted by a business that offers a discount for a limited amount of time.
Let’s say Tuesdays in the summer are notoriously slow for your business. On Tuesday morning, send your customers a text message or an email promotion that gives them a discount code for 20 percent off their entire purchase if they come in between 1-5pm.
It’s a quick, simple solution to drive more business into your store.
2. Offer an added service
On slow days, try offering an added service to entice your customers to come in. Clothing retailers might offer a free 15-minute shopping consultation or fitting, an auto repair shop could rotate tires with the purchase of an oil change, and a salon could offer a mini-facial to anyone that comes in for a cut and color.
You might consider offering these services for an extended period of time, like every Wednesday in the month of October.
Be sure to promote the additional services. Schedule social media posts ahead of time so you have your bases covered there. Send both email and text messages to your customers to promote the sale too. Create a small postcard with the information on it and give it to customers as they checkout, and create in-store signage about the added services too.
3. Entertain kids
Want to attract more parents to your store on a slow day? Set up a kid’s play area. The area could be as simple as a flat screen TV with a movie playing, a table and some coloring books.
Parents are always on the lookout for kid-friendly places to shop. After doing a little shopping with their child, a mom and daughter can take a break and do a little coloring before hopping back in the car and going home.
Maybe it’s something you set up in the corner of your store for a month during your slow times. Again, make sure you tell customers about it.
4. Host a seminar or workshop
As a business owner, you have more to offer your customers than just a product or service – you have knowledge. You’re an expert in your industry, otherwise you wouldn’t be in business, right?
Turn your knowledge into a seminar, workshop or class that customers can benefit from. For instance, a retailer selling camera equipment can offer photography classes; an investment firm can offer a class about saving for retirement; a bakery can host a class on cake decorating, like the example below. Host the class on a day of the week that’s usually slow, and be sure to advertise it.
Brainstorm a list of topics that you can teach your customers. Start with a few ideas that are fairly broad to attract the most customers, and then once word spreads about your informative classes, you can start to branch into more specific topics. For instance, the investment firm might start with the retirement class for mass appeal, and then offer a class that looks specifically at the pros and cons of mutual funds as a retirement investment.
Try to keep the classes fairly short and entertaining, and give attendees a reward for coming like a coupon for their next visit.
Be sure to create a Facebook event on your business page to promote and gage attendance as well.
5. Set up an online store
Does your business sell products online? During the slower season, you might consider using some of your downtime to create an online store. Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it sounds.
You can use DIY tools like Shopify or BigCommerce to add a shopping cart to your existing website. Start by selling one or two products online and see how it goes. You can always add more down the road. Both platforms start at around $30 a month to get started, and offer support services if you have questions on set up and maintenance of the site.
This idea can give your year-round sales a boost, which can help offset the days when the register isn’t ringing as frequently as you’d like.
How do you attract customers on slow days? Share your tips with others in the comment section below.