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How to increase sales in retail

Having a brick and mortar store allows you to integrate yourself into the community and interact with and get to know regular customers face-to-face. Of course, having a physical location does limit the amount of foot traffic you’ll see on any given day, but it doesn’t have to limit your sales.

Increasing sales isn’t always about increasing customers. It’s about selling smarter. In this article, we’re going to take a look at how you can do just that.

If you’re a retailer who is looking to increase sales, take a look at the great features and products offered by SumUp.

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Maximise the potential of each customer

Footfall is important, sure. But when it comes to increasing sales, the quality of your customers is almost always going to trump quantity. It’s all about maximising the potential of each customer, and that starts with thinking about what else you can offer them. Ask yourself: How can I bring more value to my customers while increasing their value to my store?

You need to create a win-win situation. Here are some techniques for selling more to your customers:


Upselling is the process of encouraging customers to upgrade their purchase. Let’s say you own a sportswear store and a customer wants to buy some simple black workout leggings for £12.99. That’s great, but let them know that you also sell other products, such as a pair of patterned leggings that are made from breathable and stretchy material and also have pockets. These leggings are £19.99.

Although the second product is more expensive, by explaining the value to your customers it feels like they’re getting a better deal. The result? They’re happier, and you’ve increased your sales.


To cross-sell you need to pair similar items together to increase the order value. It’s the “do you want fries with that?” of the retail world. Sticking with the sportswear example, you could offer the customer the matching sports bra that goes with the leggings.

Another example of cross-selling could be to group all of the accessories for one product into a bundle. For example, if a customer visits Currys PC World looking for a laptop, they also receive discounts off laptop cases and virus protection, encouraging them to buy more.

Try before you buy

One of the greatest advantages that physical retail has over online retail is that the products are there in the flesh. Customers can see them, touch them, and, in some cases, try them.

More and more retailers are offering try-before-you-buy for everything from cosmetics stores like Lush, to chocolate shops like Choc Amour.

They make chocolate on-site and invite customers to try any flavour before purchasing. This encourages browsing shoppers to become customers, and maybe even buy a flavour that they wouldn’t have previously considered.

Think about the products you can do this with in your store and set up sample stations at the entrance to your store to encourage people to come in and sample what you have to offer. The ‘try before you buy’ approach works well in conjunction with money-off vouchers, further encouraging customers to purchase.


Vouchers, particularly those that can be redeemed on the customer’s next visit, encourage people to spend more next time they’re in a store. This is a simple yet effective strategy used by retailers like Boots, who often do this with their No. 7 skincare and make-up range.

Loyalty cards/programmes

If you want to focus on increasing sales in the long-term then look to implement a loyalty programme. Loyalty programmes focus on the lifetime value of the customer and encourage them to spend more to receive rewards.

Using Boots as an example again, their Advantage Card gives customers 4 points for every £1 they spend. And each point is worth 1p, so customers can save their points up and use them to purchase items in the future.

When introducing a loyalty programme into your store, be sure to mention it to customers at the check out and let them start using it instantly (on their current purchase) to encourage them to start reaping the benefits.

Empower your staff

The retail staff of today have a tough job. When they try to engage with customers or give them advice, they’re competing with the powerful little devices that everyone has in their hands: smartphones.

According to a study by Google, 82% of smartphone users consult their phones on purchases they’re about to make in a store. If your employees can engage with customers in a genuine and friendly way then people will be less likely to look at their smartphones and more likely to enjoy their experience.

But, it goes deeper than friendly conversation. Here are some ways you can empower your staff to do whatever it takes to increase sales:

Equip them with knowledge

If customers are using smartphones to make informed decisions, then why not even out the playing field and give your staff the same? Equipping your employees with smart devices will allow them to look up important information for customers in seconds.

Tesco has taken this one step further by building their own app for staff. With the app, aptly named ‘Inform’, staff can look up stock availability, special offers, and more.

Equip them with card readers

Sticking with the theme of equipment, you can increase the customer experience even further by giving your employees card readers. Card readers, like those made SumUp, make taking payments quick and easy. This improves the productivity of staff, resulting in fewer queues and happier customers.

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Equip them with discounts

Everyone loves a discount - including your staff members.

Giving your staff an employee discount is a great way to increase their happiness and loyalty. You can also improve this further by giving out monthly prizes for the hardest workers, or any exceptional service that was carried out.

While it may not always seem to directly increase sales, keeping your employees happy is bound to have an impact on customers. As Richard Branson famously said: “Happy employees = happy customers.”

Focus on the psychology of sales

There have been a number of studies on the psychology of shopping and how store owners can tap into this to increase sales. And, according to Digital Agency Network, many big brands are already trying this.

Toy store, FAO Schwartz plays upbeat pop music around the Barbies and dramatic music in the Star Wars section, and Apple sets laptops open at 70 degrees, inviting customers to instinctively touch them.

As you can see, these techniques are simple and easy to implement into your own store, even if you aren’t a giant company like those mentioned above. Let’s take a look at how you can use the ‘psychology of sales’ in your store:


Have you heard of FOMO? It stands for ‘fear of missing out’ and, according to a study by Eventbrite, 7 out of 10 millennials say that they experience it.

Signage that stresses the scarcity of products or special offers could trigger this ‘FOMO’ and increase sales. After all, if people think that they only have one chance to buy your products for a great price then they may be more likely to make a quick decision.

Store layout

This is a huge topic, with top retailers spending millions of pounds a year on optimising their store layout for sales. For those unable to shell out such a fortune, here are a couple of quick tips:

  • Place children’s items lower down so that they are at their eye level

  • Place sensory items (products that look and/or smell appealing) at the front of the store to draw people in

  • Place less expensive ‘impulse items’ by the checkout to encourage last-minute purchases


Even colours can increase sales. A Hubspot study on the psychology of colours in retail found that people identify orange with ‘cheap’ products (making it great for special offer signage) and green with ‘healthy’ products. But the strongest colour is red.

The study found that red can increase sales because it creates a sense of urgency and can trigger powerful emotions.

To sum up...

If there’s something that all retailers have in common, it’s the desire to increase sales. And, at SumUp, our range of products and partnership opportunities make realising this desire a simple reality.

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Ashleigh Grady