Making the most of your store and improving sales can be challenging. There are lots of different options when it comes to arranging products, displaying PoS (point of sale) materials and managing stock; ensuring you are using the right tools to convert your customers is essential.
NextGEN360 has been supporting our customers for many years in building bespoke, eye-catching vaping brands. We provide industry-leading marketing support and guidance to help retailers make the most of their next generation product offerings and maximise sales in their store.
We would like to share five things that we recommend to any retailer looking to improve sales in their store – our advice is focussed on maximising vape sales, but can be applied to many different product sets, it’s all about understanding what your customers want and how they browse in your store.
1) Must-Stock Products
Arguably one of the most obvious tips for driving sales is to ensure you always carry products your customers actually want. There will always be a time and place to introduce new SKUs, but ensuring your range includes the most popular brands will naturally draw customers to your store.
For the vaping category, this means making sure you keep a healthy balance of leading branded devices and e-liquids. Paying attention to trends is vital to understanding what these products will be. Sticking to leading brands like SMOK, VOOPOO, Horizon or GEEK Vape for your devices and vape tanks is a safe bet to begin with. Leading e-liquid brands including our own EDGE vaping is also a good call – EDGE is the UK’s number one e-liquid brand, carrying 8/10 of the current bestselling 10ml e-liquids according to Nielsen.
The reputation of these brands precedes them in most cases, and even new vapers will typically start their journey by looking for the products they know are tried, tested and popular amongst other consumers. Even in the case of disposable vapes, which carry a significant number of drawbacks ethically, are must-stock items for any retailer looking to maximise vape sales. You can take a closer look at the pros and cons of stocking disposable vapes in your store in our blog.
The take-home here is to focus on popular and trending brands when choosing what to stock. Doing this will improve your stores reputation and encourage stronger conversion rates as well as repeat business.
2) Merchandising Finesse
Just carrying the hottest products doesn’t guarantee retail success, merchandising them effectively is just as important. Merchandising is all about displaying your products in a way that makes it easy for your customers to browse while also serving the best interests of your business plan. Well merchandised stores will almost always see an uplift in sales because they have tailored the customer’s journey, which can also help encourage impulse purchases, and grow awareness of new SKUs by placing them near to similar products which the retailer knows are top-sellers.
Use the merchandising diamond! You can learn all about the diamond in our blog, however it is essentially a method of organising products that plays into the behaviours of typical shoppers as they browse. The centre of the diamond denotes the main area of focus for a customer, this is where their line of sight is drawn to. Ensuring that products are displayed right to left, in a sensible order relating to brand, flavour, strength or other USPs is important. Placing the items such as end-of-line stock you wish to clear, or guaranteed best-sellers you want to capitalise on in the centre of the ‘diamond’ means they will get the lion’s share of attention from your customers and will drive up their sales.
Beyond the merchandising diamond, ensuring products are appropriately grouped is the biggest learning here. Put yourself in the shoes of your consumers: does your stores layout make sense? Is it easy to find what you want? Are you presented with other tempting offers and impulse buys at critical points in-store? If the answer to any of these is no, then it’s time to work on your merchandising finesse.
3) Point of Sale (PoS) Materials
Many businesses, including ourselves, will provide their stockists with marketing support in some form. This could range from some free branded stickers or flyers to fully tailored creative packages including posters, cash mats, and display units like our EDGE cubes. In either case, deploying these materials effectively in your store can do a lot to improve sales.
Not only do PoS materials add some colour and vibrance to your store, but they are also excellent ways to convey information about new or existing products. In this way they can sometimes make the difference between a person deciding to buy or not. While this should never be a substitute for a solid understanding of your stock and its application, PoS can sometimes help fill knowledge gaps to help drive conversion.
As with the products themselves, utilising PoS materials efficiently is the best approach. Throwing things all over the store will look messy and can detract from your customers experience. Focus on promoting items you know sell well, or are underperforming to help maximise or recover sales. Don’t have too many competing PoS materials in one place; cluttering your walls, counters and windows will only make your store look untidy. Not only this, but it is likely that nobody will stop to look at anything if there is simply too much going on.
Rotation is also vital to keeping your store fresh. If you still have posters up from two years ago for example, it is likely that there are newer versions you can request. Most suppliers will update their PoS each year, and you should make sure you get that updated material as soon as possible. This will make your store feel more dynamic and on-trend, while also ensuring the information given to consumers is accurate – old PoS will encourage the assumption from customers that your stock is just as outdated.
4) Avoid Stock-Outs
While this again may seem obvious, it’s all too easy to find yourself short of best-sellers. While sometimes unavoidable, there are many steps a retailer can take to ensure they always have their core money-makers in good supply.
Understanding your customers and the trends they follow is essential in understanding what your top sellers are. Once identified you should then examine the points in the year when their sales reach their peak. With this information you can then more accurately forecast what you will need to avoid stock-outs at these critical times. To achieve this, knowing the lead-times from your suppliers is another essential piece of intel.
Order well in advance of any retail peaks, and set your reorder levels with a bigger safety net for top-sellers than slower lines. Make sure the key SKUs in your portfolio are always available and well merchandised. Where the latter is not possible, it is wise to carry at least one leading alternative to your top sellers, which can be provided to consumers in the event of a stock-out of their regular item. By doing this, you can potentially salvage a sale because you can politely offer them the next best thing, rather than them having to try elsewhere, which can lead to losing a customer altogether.
5) Product Knowledge
There will always be general items like household goods, cleaning products etc… that we all understand and can engage with as we use them every day. More specialist items such as vaping ranges however can be confusing, not only for consumers but the retailers trying to sell them.
While retailers with expansive offerings across multiple categories will not be able to become an expert in everything they sell, making sure both you and your staff are properly educated in the application of your most popular SKUs is essential to maximising sales. Customers who receive a knowledgeable answer about a product are far more likely to be converted than if they are met with “errr, I’m not really sure”.
Particularly in the case of vaping products, many consumers can be encouraged to purchase additional items if the seller can convince them they are beneficial to their journey. This can only be achieved if the retailer understands the product themselves. The power of product knowledge doesn’t just help drive one-off sales, it encourages repeat business and fosters a closer relationship with your clientele. A shopper who can engage with the retailer and have a positive experience is not only likely to return themselves, but they will tell their friends and family that they have found a great place to buy ‘X Y Z’.