From the NRF BIG Show: 10 Tips for Small Brick-and-Mortar Retailers to Increase Sales
Dave Ratner, an independent retailer with over 30 years experience, is the owner and CIO (Chief Instigating Officer) of Dave’s Soda and Pet City. (Don’t be fooled by the name, soda only accounts for roughly 2 percent of the company’s sales.) With 5 locations across western Massachusetts and more than 65 employees under his guidance, Ratner’s business has grown from its humble beginnings as Dave’s Soda City, which operated out of an abandoned gas station.
To impart some of the wisdom he’s gained over the years in growing his retail business, Ratner led a session at the National Retail Federation’s BIG Show this week in New York City. Ratner left attendees at the hour-long session with 10 tips they could take back to their stores and implement right away.
1. Get your customers’ contact info. If you’re giving them something of value, customers will want to hear from you, Ratner said. He cited a recent a postcard campaign his company ran: Nearly 2,500 postcards were mailed out to Dave’s best customers — those who spend more than $400 month at the store. The postcard included a coupon redeemable at any Dave’s retail location. The campaign exceeded Ratner’s expectations: 60 percent of recipients redeemed the coupon, while the other 40 percent still came into a Dave’s store.
The value Dave’s Soda and Pet City offers its customers is exemplified in its loyalty club program, Dave’s Club. Customers who sign up for the program are sent special offers and coupons. Ninety-two percent of all Dave’s transactions are tracked via Club Dave loyalty cards.
“Consumers view, somewhat unfairly, that smaller retail stores are more expensive than chain stores,” said Ratner. “Therefore, you have to give them better service and value than the chain stores.”
2. Find out what other products your customers want you to carry. Ratner recommended that attendees try out Survey Monkey, a free online surveying tool, to gather customer intelligence. Give customers an incentive to get them to tell you what they think about your business, Ratner advised.