From the November 17 Wall Street Journal article by Rachel Dodes:
"A $10 case for that $50 gift card. A hat and scarf to match your Harry Potter doll. Swarovski-crystal "jewelry" that clips onto a bra. These are some of the items that shoppers are likely to confront in stores this season: "accessories" designed to dress up the gift you're buying -- and in some cases, push up the price.
As stores brace for what's predicted to be the slowest growth in holiday sales in five years, retailers and manufacturers are trying to sell shoppers on add-ons to supplement their gifts. Target is selling $4.99 kits of beads and sequins that customers can use to decorate their $89.99 digital frames. To accessorize the video game "Guitar Hero III," there are $14.99 "guitar skins," adorned with skulls or an American-flag design. On the higher end of the accessories spectrum, Neiman Marcus has an $88 wireless computer mouse in the shape of an actual mouse, with Swarovski-crystal eyes and ears.
For many stores, accessories are a way to increase sales without taking a riskier route -- discounting or holding sales before the holidays. Shoppers mix and match items like bath accessories, candles, books and hats. Others are offering more small-ticket items to boost "impulse" purchases." http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119525362074896239.html?mod=dist_smartbrief
We like to ask retail sales associates if they typically add-on to the original sale. Guess what? They all say they do. No, they don’t. That affirmative answer is just an auto-response. We challenge you to go out to your sales floor right now and ask each of your associates if they practice suggestive selling. They’ll all say yes. But later on stop and observe them with customers to see if they really do. We’d be willing to bet that the majority of them do not even attempt to add-on.
There is big money in this simple technique. Let’s say, for example, that your store does $1,500,000 in retail volume, with a keystone (50 percent) markup based on retail. Let’s presume that the average sale in the store is $25, which means the store makes 60,000 of those average sales in a year.
Let’s also presume that every associate in the store has embraced suggestive selling. If only one in every five customers bought just one more item, in addition to the original item they came in to buy, 12,000 transactions would be positively affected. If that one additional item had a retail value of $8, that would represent a retail sales increase of $96,000.00.
Without suggestive selling, that additional $96,000.00 in suggested retail sales would never be realized. At a keystone markup, these additional sales would give the store an easy $48,000 more in profits – and our example was based on only one in five customers buying an additional item. Try this exercise using your store’s numbers to calculate your own sales-building possibilities.
In addition to putting money in your pocket, suggestive selling helps your customers, too. It educates the customer about the products that you sell. If you know that one product needs another product in order to perform properly, why wouldn’t you share that information with the customer while he or she is still in the store?
So how can you use suggestive selling to your advantage? Here are some easy to implement tips to start you on the pathway to profit:
* Schedule a store meeting that is completely devoted to suggestive selling. Explain how it works: You sell the customer the primary item, then add on additional items that compliments it the original item. Keep suggesting items – the customer will let you know when to stop.
* Encourage everyone to give it a try. You may even want to insert your own sales figures into our example to demonstrate why suggestive selling is so important. Remind them that everyone wins when the store is doing well.
At your meeting, hold up an item and ask your associates to shout out additional items that could be sold along with it. You will be amazed at how many combinations they will come up with! If you happen to come across an odd item that you just cannot add-on to, encourage your associates to suggest whatever item is on special that day.
From this point on, set aside 10 minutes at each store meeting for a suggestive selling exercise. Your associates will rise to the occasion, and they will gain confidence – the main ingredient in selling.
* Choose an “Item of the Day” and have every associate carry one around with them, talking to the customers about the item. We did this experiment not too long ago at Hannah’s Home Accents in Antioch, Illinois while setting a display of TY stuffed animals. Once the customers held them in their hands they were hooked.
* Encourage every associate to spend time reading product labels, especially the labels on products they are not familiar with. Vendors put all kinds of information on their labels because they know that in some stores the product will have to sell itself. A strong knowledge of the product you sell is just good service. It shows customers that your associates know their stuff. If every associate spent just 10 minutes per shift reading product labels, you’d have a store full of product knowledge geniuses within 30 days.
* An easy way to add on to the sale is to practice a little sales trick called “Bundling”. Bundling is simply packaging related products and/or services together into one package. And since consumers have been taught to believe that package deals are a better value than if the items were purchased separately, it works in your favor.
You might, for example, bundle various scrapbooking tools, components, and a class together. (We like adding the class in the bundle because it encourages the customer to come back and shop again.) Bundling creates add-on sales even when the customer is shopping without the aid of a store associate. Ask your associates to suggest items that could be bundled together to increase sales. Then display your bundles on a table or end feature in a prominent location in your store. Keep it fresh: change the display as the bundles sell down, or at least every other week.
* Choose an item of the day and display it prominently at each checkout counter. You can get creative here, too: “Buy one, get one at half off”, “5 items for $5”, or a special price that’s just for the day are three good examples.
Suggestive selling should be right at the top of your Holiday Sales To Do List. All it takes is focus and a little elbow grease. There’s big money out there just waiting for you to pick it up. And you don’t have to spend a single cent to get it!