As we move forward into this new standard of continued social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands, the million dollar question is when will we come back to life as we once knew it?
Retailers are reopening with significant restrictions in place to keep their staff and consumers safe, but when will retail traffic trends return to how they were before COVID-19?
The short answer is not anytime soon.
SLOW, SLOW, SLOW TRAFFIC
When the shelter restrictions in place started to be lifted, we first saw improvements in traffic week after week, but the improvements have slowed down in recent weeks. The traffic trend for week 1 of July was -46% at LY, in line with week 5 of June, but declined from week 4 of June, by -42% at LY. July 4 traffic was -49% in LY, impacted by many states closing areas or reimposing curfews and anxiety from a second wave of coronavirus cases preventing shoppers from visiting stores.
Despite slow-to-recover traffic metrics, other key selling performance indicators are showing positive increases over last year. Net sales have certainly suffered, but Conversion (CVR), Average Transaction Value (ATV), and a metric we use called Customer Yield (SY) are all positive for LY (Customer Yield is a calculation of sales per customer. and calculated by net sales / circulation). We continue to see that CVR and customer performance are affected by factors such as only motivated shoppers to buy from visiting stores, and the increase in services such as shipping from store, online shopping in-store (BOPIS), curbside pickup, etc. Conversion rates last tumbled in July Week 1 as the reality of supply chain issues rolled in, with limited store size availability, new shipments, or products that customers needed. had tried in changing rooms or returned to quarantine for specific periods. . It is important for retailers to market to their consumers when they are in decent inventory or when they have something new in store so that customers come in and convert. In these times of COVID, it makes sense that customers who come to a store surely have a strong purchase intention, however, we must continue to keep the buyer in mind, as safety and convenience are essential. .
CATEGORY OF HOUSE AS A LUMINOUS PLACE
While all categories are still down from last year's traffic trends, we are seeing the strongest trends from home retailers, with stores open ending June -29%. This is likely because buyers are spending more time at home and seeing where immediate improvements can be made to their home. The shoes have also been relatively strong, as families spend a lot of time outdoors and children in some areas have been allowed to return to camp where new athletic shoes are a necessity. Jewelry is another business where trends were strongest in May and early June, due to Mother's Day, Father's Day, and high school and college graduation gifts, but has since slowed down around the second half of June as these events drew to a close. . Beauty also performed better than other categories, but there are certain types of products within Beauty that support the larger category. Industry partners told us this was mainly due to positive performance in skin care, sunscreens and hair care, while lip products and fragrances saw lower sales in comparison. With the increase in mask regulations, beauty retailers have seen an increase in eye makeup as it is one of the only uncovered areas on the face. Apparel continued its weak performance in line with trends before closing but has improved in recent weeks and open stores ended last week -42% over last year vs. -55% in June Week 1 The top performing areas were athletics, pajamas, and loungewear. Dressing, career clothing, and tailoring were all tough, as you might expect.
REOPENED STATES ... OR NOT
By early June, all 50 states had started to reopen to some extent after closures due to COVID-19. However, as cases started to rise again towards the end of the month, many states have suspended or canceled plans to reopen. This has happened most notably in California and Michigan, where the shelter policies in place went into effect the earliest, and in Texas, Arizona and Florida, which were among the states with the shortest shelters in order and the first reopening of companies. Still, many states in the Midwest remained open, and the majority of reopening states have spread throughout the Northeast, including New York City, where New York was previously the epicenter of the virus in the United States. During week 1 of July, all regions showed improvement compared to week 5 of June except for the northeast. With the recent opening of New York City, the traffic has been disappointing as people flee the city to the suburbs or nearby seaside communities. Retailers hope traffic trends improve as New Yorkers return to the city in the coming weeks, as schools in New York will be open with at least some aspects of in-person classes, starting at now. As back-to-school plans continue to evolve nationwide, we will be monitoring closely to measure the impact on store traffic and recovery measures and as a mother of 3 young children, Ma own sanity.
EMEA SHOWS STRONGER SIGNS OF LIFE
Looking 'across the pond' at EMEA trends, we saw improvement week after week with current traffic trends of -49% at LY. The Middle East had a stronger week, -34% at LY which was +7 points from week 5 in June. Unlike the United States, European countries only see occasional “blips” of COVID-19 cases when they reopen. However, factors such as travel restrictions limiting traffic to countries with high summer tourism, France delaying its infamous summer sales (which have now started this week, week 2 of July) and Fashion Week de Paris - which was online until July 12 - will likely continue to impact the EMEA region. traffic trends.
With the back-to-school season about to begin, let's all work together and get this country back to normal - and if it's not normal, let's embrace this new normal. Wear masks, wash your hands and social distancing, we can slow the spread of COVID-19 together 😊
For June 2020 sales performance, download our recent Performance pulse ratio.
Susan Davidson is a Retail Consultant at RetailNext. With over 16 years of retail experience, Susan has worked in the digital and retail areas of the business. Susan has worked for retailers such as Bloomingdale's, J.Crew, and Ralph Lauren, focusing on merchandising, purchasing, and planning. She lives outside of New York City with her husband and 3 young children.
Are you a retailer ( or retail sales associate ) who’s struggling with how to approach shoppers ? Worried that you lack the magic touch, or that you’ll come off as an annoying salesperson ? Would you rather be awkwardly staring at your store’s point of sale software screen than actually talking to the customer in front of you ?
You should keep reading because, after years of being one of the strongest sellers at my store, I can assure you : anyone can sell. That’s not to say it’s not going to take a lot of practice. But over the years, I’ve found that a customer will tell you verbally and/or physically how to sell to them. If you’re listening properly and looking for the right cues, you can always tell if a customer is interested in what you have to say, what approach to take with them, and what exactly they’re looking for.
Check out the tips below, put them into marche, and you should find yourself successfully closing sales : Practice Active ListeningActive listening isn’t just about standing in front a customer silently. There are a few important things you should be doing to engage in this practice :
The most important part of active listening is to not form a response while the customer is speaking. This is really to do, and is going to take a lot of practice. It’s very natural to latch on to one part of a comment and form a response to it, and then shut out the rest of the comment. tera become a good listener, a sales person must resist doing this. Active listening should engage your whole body. Things like nodding and having an open stance show the customer that you are listening to what they have to say. Once it’s time for you to speak, give the customer a quick summary of what they said. This has a few purposes. First, it allows you to come up with a response post-comment without things being awkwardly silent. Second, showing the customer that you heard everything they had to say will often open them up to providing you with more information than they initially supplied.
Practicing réactive listening means that you are fully engaged with learning what the customer wants. This engagement makes a huge difference. Not only will you understand what the customer wants in a deeper way, but you also gain their trust easier.
Next : Pay Attention to Body LanguageAlong with active listening, you should be practicing ‘active looking. ’ ( Yes, I just made that term up. ) People will betray a lot of what they’re thinking in the things that they do with their body. A lot of body language experts will tell you some odd things to look for, like watching if someone scratches their nose, but I don’t think that level of depth is necessary. In fact, I think that if you’re watching for a customer to scratch their nose, you’re probably not practicing active listening.
However, there is still plenty of body language you should be paying attention to while you’re actively listening. Let me give you a short list of tells you can easily pick up on during a conversation with a customer. 1. Eye ContactWhere a person’s eyes are looking is one of the easiest ways to tell what they’re focusing on. If the customer is looking at you, or the products you’re sérieux with, that’s a good sign. It means they’re engaged with you and are interested in what you have to say and sell.
If they’re looking around, at someone else, out the door… anywhere that’s not where you are – that’s not a great sign. Usually if this is the case you should say something like, “Let me know if you need anything else, ” and let them do their own thing. No eye contact doesn’t mean you won’t be able to close the sale – but it could spell dysfonctionnement if you don’t pay attention.
Hands/ArmsAnother important thing to pay attention to is what people do with their hands and arms. Typically, if someone’s arms are crossed, they are uncomfortable and probably not interested in what you have to say. You should tread gently : let this customer know you are there to help. If you’re talking with a customer who is clearly shy and uncomfortable with talking to you, I recommend acting in a more reserved manner and avoiding things like answering questions the customer has yet to ask. In addition, because this posture reflects a closed off mind, I mostly suggest avoiding suggestive selling. Suggestive selling does not work well on someone who is not interested.
Open arms and palms facing towards you, however, are an extra sign. If your customer has taken this sort of forme in your conversation, you’re doing well. In fact, I would definitely recommend going for it with suggestive selling. ( Of course, make sure you’re showing them items that are actually related to what they want, not just some pre-placed item that your directeur wants to get rid of. )
Facial Expression—Particularly the Curve of Their MouthLastly, you should be paying attention to the termes you customer is making. This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s important to pay close attention to your customer’s facial termes. Even if a customer is pulling a straight face at you, most people’s mouths are fairly expressive in small ways. Often, the corners of the mouth will be curving slightly up or slightly down. Down is not good for you – it indicates frustration or annoyance. Curving up, though, is an excellent sign. Additionally, you should pay attention to how tightly the lips are held. If they’re pressed tightly together, it can mean the same thing as crossed arms.
That’s the three major areas of body language you should be paying attention to while actively listening to your customer. Keep in mind that while the customer’s body can give you an indication about how they feel towards you and your product, it’s the listening that is going to yield you the important information about what they want. Now that we’ve established good customer reading techniques, let’s talk about what to do with the information you pick up :
Respond With Similar Body LanguageOne of the easiest ways to set someone at ease is to “mirror” their body language. You don’t want to go overboard on this – that can seem creepy or just mean. But little things are really important. Start with pace and timing. Is the customer in a hurry ? Or do they want to take things slow and steady ? Speak and act at the same pace as the customer. If she’s in a hurry, speaking quickly and speed walking across the store, then you should speak quickly and speed walk across the store as well. If she’s speaking slowly and moves slowly, your speed talking and walking will only come across as aggressive to her.
In addition, you can do subtle things like adopt a similar positionnement, or use similar hand gestures. With the hand gestures, be careful. You don’t want to come across as mocking your customer. Don’t make juste replicas of hand gestures, keep it general. Determine if someone is ready to buy ( or not ) based on non-verbal cuesHere are a few more tips to help you differentiate shoppers who are ready to buy versus those who aren’t interested.
According to SCORE contributor Lee Perlitz, signals that shoppers are interested in a product include : Spending time looking at or discussing one product type – When a customer spends time focusing on just one product, there’s a good chance they’ve already set their sights on that one and are interested in purchasing it. Looking around for somebody to help them – Catch the shopper’s gaze when you see them looking around. According to Perlitz, you can approach them “if they sustain the glance or raise their eyebrows. ”Body language – A shift in body language signals “a change in mental state that may well indicate readiness to buy. ” For example, if the shopper suddenly styles relaxed after you’ve answered their questions, that could be an indication that they’re ready to buy.
Be sure to approach customers once you see them exhibiting these signals. Failing to spot these signs or not acting in time could result in you missing out on the sale. On the flip side, here are the non-verbal signals indicating that someone isn’t ready to buy. Avoiding eye contact – If a customer doesn’t hold your gaze when you look at them, it likely means they’re not ready to make a purchase yet. Making ‘not now’ excuses – Statements like “just looking” or “not now” are clear signals that they aren’t ready to buy. Perlitz recommends that retailers “make an encouraging remark to keep them looking and back off. ”Looking at many different products – Not being focused on just one product is another indication that shoppers should be given space.
When you see or hear people exhibiting the signals above, then it’s best to hold off on the sell. Figure out the type of customer that you’re dealing with and respond accordinglyAs you know, there are several variétés of customers who walk through your doors, and you need to tailor your approach accordingly. to help you do that, we’ve put together a quick slideshow summarizing the most common variétés of customers in retail. Check it out below :
More tips ? Those are our tips and tricks to help anyone become a good sales person. It’s important to remember that truly good sales people work on creating trusting relationships with their clients before they sell them anything. If you are capable of creating a trusting relationship, you are capable of selling. These tips are intended to help you create that relationship.
What tricks to reading customers do you employ ? Let us know in the comments below ! Author Bio : Cara Wood is a digital administrative assistant at Capterra, a company that puts business software buyers in touch with software vendors ! When she’s not at work at Capterra, she can be found horse-back riding, reading and just generally having a good time at life.