By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
OK, you purchased traffic counters, had them installed in your stores and started collecting data -you may even have some interesting graphs and charts to show for your investment, but now what? How do you turn this data into better sales results? The hardest part of the process - “consuming” the insights and turning them into practical actions that lead to better sales performance - is the part that many retailers struggle with or simply get wrong.
While there are many consumers of traffic and conversion insights in the organization, Store Managers are the lynch-pin to driving sales performance and here are some specific ways they can put these insights to practical use:
Understand the traffic/conversion profile of your store and drill down to pinpoint opportunities by hour. These are easy to spot when you have the data. Traffic and customer conversion rates are almost always inversely related. When traffic goes up, conversion rate tends to drop - it’s not hard to understand why. When the store is busy, sales associates are tied up with prospects (i.e. they’re doing their jobs), but unfortunately, and especially in the CE industry, some prospects having not been attended to, will simply leave. While some of these prospects will come back when the store is less busy, given the intense competitive environment, there is a good chance they will simply find what they were looking for elsewhere. Managers need to look for the conversion rate “sags” at the hourly granularity.
Match staff resources to traffic and conversion patterns: Once the manager has identified the traffic peaks and conversion sags, she needs to align her staff resources with the patterns. This is not about simply throwing more staff hours at the problem - retailers are cutting hours, not increasing hours. The trick here is to make sure you align your precious and limited staff hours to the busiest traffic hours, because these hours represent your biggest sales opportunities. You’re going to lose some sales - it’s impossible to get everyone during peak hours - but you will at least get more by aligning staff to traffic (not sales transactions).
Ensure all staff understand what conversion means and set conversion targets: traffic and conversion analysis is not just for the “big brains” in the company. Every associate in the store plays a role in converting customers and should have an understanding of what these measures measure and how they personally influence results. Store Managers should show staff where the conversion sags are occurring and engage the team on how to minimize the sags. For example, not scheduling breaks during peak traffic hours or practicing sales “triage” with prospects during traffic peaks, that is, respectfully getting to whether they’re shopping or buying today. And, setting conversion targets is critical - without targets the whole exercise is pointless.
Understand why people don’t buy? Retailers should conduct exit surveys of non-buyers on a periodic basis in order to understand non-conversion. Here’s the survey: Question 1: Did you intend to buy? If YES, (2) Why didn’t you buy? End survey. While market researchers may cringe at the simplicity of the methodology, the fact is, these basic questions will tell you why you’re losing sales. “I couldn’t find anyone to help me”, “the sales associate didn’t know the product”, “the till line-up was too long” - don’t be too surprised if you’ve heard it all before. The point is, when you match these non-buyer responses with your conversion sags, it all becomes very meaningful - these were sales you could have made.
Here’s the deal: store managers who understand traffic and conversion analysis, interact with the information on a regular basis, and most importantly, are able to act on the insights, will produce better sales results - period. Data is only data unless it’s acted upon and traffic and conversion data is highly actionable.
Mark Ryski, Founder & President, HeadCount Corporation, a retail analytics company Author of “When Retail Customers Count”
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