With only 1 Saturday left for shopping, you need to make the most of every opportunity. Double up on social media, customer service, and merchandising. Here’s a quick recap of what you should be doing during this last week of a very short resale shopping season.
What’s the one thing shoppers can’t get at a big box store? Personal service. In my 4th Quarter Marketing Tips, I encourage store owners to concentrate on the customer. Shopping mayhem and employee weariness get in the way of phenomenal customer service. Make sure this is still your focus. Encourage your employees to keep smiles on their faces. Remember, even a small gift like pastries in the morning, pizza in the afternoon, or even just a hand-written thank you note can go a long way to cheer up your staff. If not already, be an active participant on your sales floor. Go the extra mile.
Hashtags are the perfect way to get in front of shoppers during this short resale shopping season. Create your own store hashtag as well, this allows for all your posts to be found in one place and can encourage your customers to use it. You can create multiple hashtags with different purposes, such as a hashtag for your sales. Using trending hashtags is an excellent way to gain more followers, this is because Instagram allows you to follow hashtags. Not only do they do that, but they also let the user know when they have liked multiple pictures with the same hashtag to encourage them to follow the hashtag. Finding popular hashtags is the key to growing an Instagram following, here are some popular holiday hashtags.
Your store needs to be spotless during this season. Assign the task of checking on dressing rooms, clearing your cash wrap, and maintaining the racks and shelving throughout the day. Part of excellent customer service includes the organization and look of your store.
Even though this is your busiest season, it’s still the best time to add contact information for new customers. With SimpleConsign, a cashier can add a new customer directly from the Checkout Tab. Every cashier should be asking if a customer wishes to receive notices about special events and sales to gain contact information.
Billions are lost each year to shoplifting. Stay vigilant. Post signs that say “Shoplifters Will Be Prosecuted.” Remind your salespeople what your procedure is when a shoplifter is suspected.
If you enjoyed reading this, here are more holiday ideas.
Did you see the article from Bloomberg? The headline reads, “Used Stuff Is the Next Big Trend in Christmas Shopping.” Now, that’s exciting! Tell your shoppers this holiday to make it a consignment Christmas. Here are a few ideas.
The stress is building. The longer a shopper’s list and the less shopping days available equals panic. With only a few weeks of shopping left, invite shoppers to bring you their list. Use your website and social media to stress the quantity and quality of unique, one-of-a-kind gifts when shoppers make it a consignment Christmas.
Getting the right gift during the holidays is foremost in every shopper’s mind. When you add in the possibility of giving a unique, luxury gift for less, the bargain is even better! Consider marking down your seasonal items the week of December 9. As Whizbang Training suggests, “take a smaller markdown now (maybe 25% or 30%) when people are actually buying rather than the massive markdown you’ll need to move it after Christmas (50+%).” Furthermore, add a price point table such as “All Gifts On This Table Under $20.” Have a variety of items for men, women and children. Print attractive signs, but don’t tape them to the table! Purchase sign holders. Make sure you have a variety of last-minute stocking stuffer items too. Remember, stocking stuffers don’t have to be cheap. They just have to be small.
It goes without saying, but I’m gonna say it anyway… keep your shop and your staff merry and bright. By this point, your holiday planning is finished. Now, it’s time to focus on selling. Motivate your sales team. Remind them of those traits that make a salesperson truly successful. In addition, coach them to cross-sell. Energize your team with a fun contest. Encourage them to wear Santa hats and hand out candy canes. As I stated in our 4th quarter marketing tips, now’s the time to be shopper and consignor focused. Personal service is what sets you apart from the other stores in your area. Friendly, welcoming smiles go a long way right now!
Highlight different merchandise daily on your social media. Stress that only one is available to build a sense of urgency. Ask every shopper to give you an email or sign up for your rewards program. Download a copy of our holiday hashtags. Use them with every post. I’ve added special ones strictly to promote resale. Advertise your uniqueness, your amazing prices and your friendly service. By all means, enjoy this season. When the store owner is happy, the employees, shoppers and consignors are usually happy too!
During my early years as a salesperson, our sales training involved listening to multiple Zig Ziglar tapes. That guy was the cheeriest man I ever listened to. The number one lesson I learned was to always put myself in the customer’s shoes. That person is always thinking, “What’s in it for me?” According to The Retail Doctor Blog, I’ve been asking all the wrong questions during my lengthy years of selling. Have you or your employees asked your consignment shoppers these questions?
Now, when I first read this I thought, “Well, why wouldn’t I ask that question?” The usual response you receive is “fine” which immediately ends the conversation. Plus, The Retail Doctor asked, “Do you really care?” Of course I care. Well, sometimes I care. Okay, so maybe I don’t really care, but what am I supposed to ask instead? The first communication you have with your consignment shoppers sets the tone. Vend suggests having a variety of greetings on hand. Ask, “Are you enjoying your afternoon?” If you recognize the shopper, ask “What brings you in to see us again?” Finally, try and find something you like and genuinely say, “I like your … (shoes, coat, scarf, etc.) Where did you get them/it?” I certainly love it when I’m surprised by a cheery salesperson. Or, when I hear “My pleasure” after I order my chicken sandwich at a Chick-Fil-A. So, it’s time to get more creative as you greet those consignment shoppers coming in the door.
A customer often gives the rote response of, “I’m just looking” and then the conversation is completely dead. As The Retail Doctor points out, not every shopper is looking for something but all shoppers do have a problem. Whether it’s the need to kill 30 minutes of time before a meeting, or they’re looking for the perfect dress for an upcoming event, they have a problem that you need to fix. So what questions should a savvy sales associate ask? For furniture consignment, ask “What room gets a makeover today?” For clothing consignment, ask “What special event are you shopping for today?” A children’s resale shop should ask, “Which color…pink or blue?” Make the shopper give you more than a “yes” or “no” answer to keep the conversation going. If you still get the “I’m just looking” response, try and make another connection. Ask “Would you like a basket?” or “Would you like me to hold your cup of coffee at the counter so you can shop easier?”
Although the intention of connecting with your consignment shoppers is good, you’re starting off with a negative. As Vend writes, “Every interaction should be positive.” Try instead, “Are you managing to stay dry with all this rain?” Or, “Are you enjoying all the sunshine we’ve been having?” Vend also stresses the importance of “reading” your customers. Watch their body language. Are they shy? Then, they will be uncomfortable with too many questions. Pick up on verbal cues. Is their tone angry? Find something to genuinely compliment them about. Always make eye contact.
Conventional wisdom says discounting merchandise brings in more sales. Discounting is never a long-term strategy. If you want to attract shoppers for the short term, offer discounts. These customers will leave you sooner rather than later when they’re off to find the next, best deal. To build a solid base of loyal customers, focus on creating value and setting your shop apart. Here are 3 alternatives to stop the cycle of discounting.
A Harvard Business School study determined that people are motivated by 4 different biological drives. Here are the first 2:
Most shops normally focus (without realizing it) on the first 2 drives to gain new customers and make sales. What if instead, you focused on the last 2 drives:
Discounting tends to erode the consumer’s view of your brand value. In other words, if you discount often, you are only viewed as the cheapest place to shop. Instead, charge full price and add an item or service as a bonus. Read 3 sure-fire consignment cross-selling and upselling tips. For a short time, offer a free gift with the purchase of an item. Add free delivery on furniture buys or partner with another business such as a hair salon and offer a special discount. In the mind of the shopper they are getting greater value even when paying full price. Make sure you put a time limit on the offer so that it creates a sense of urgency too.
Today’s consumer is bombarded by messages. If your marketing efforts aren’t segmented to target groups of shoppers, your message will be ignored. Get a better understanding of your key customers by using an online survey (such as SurveyMonkey’s free survey), a printed survey that you use as a bag-stuffer or even your Facebook Insights page to gain in-depth information about your shoppers and fans. Target specific shoppers with specific messages about specific merchandise they want and you’ll not only have a greater chance of making a sale, but you will be building relationship at the same time.
When my kids were younger, back to school shopping was big. I mean REALLY big. Whether it was supplies and clothes in grade school; technology and clothes in high school or dorm decor and clothes for college, shopping didn’t come cheap. It was expected that shiny new notebooks and brand new sneakers were the order of the day. It’s no different today. However, in spite of the uptick in the economy, families are struggling. Today’s back to school consumers are looking for bargains. To see their money go farther, they need a little back to school consignment shopping. Now’s the time to show them what you offer.
Not every state offers tax-free weekends, but for those that do, be sure to let back-to-school consignment shoppers know you participate. Here’s a list of the states and their tax-free weekends courtesy of The Krazy Coupon Lady. Unfortunately, the Krazy Coupon Lady doesn’t mention that consignment shops are one of the best places to find back-to-school clothes.
States like Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon are always tax-free states.
This is one of the best times of the year to create User Generated Content (UGC). With UGC, your customers are marketing for you. Furthermore, you’re gaining credibility when shoppers see others purchasing back to school items from you. Here are a couple of promotional ideas that I came up with for any age group.
Loyalty isn’t built with lower prices or easier parking. As a business owner, you’ve got to earn trust and respect. Shoppers buy emotionally, not rationally. Earn trust and respect through building relationships. Continue those relationships by personalizing every email you send. Get data (such as name, address, phone and email) from shoppers by offering something in return. Let them sign up for a free drawing, or give them early access to new merchandise. Then, let email foster the consignment store loyalty you want from your customers.
First, make sure your customers are satisfied with their shopping experience. They need to know you’re listening and are concerned about them. Kizer and Bender suggest phoning shoppers to strictly thank them for visiting your store. Follow up those calls with an email question, “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend?” When they answer, be ready with the proper response. Either a hearty thanks or ask, “How can we improve?”
Next, divide customers into 3 categories. First, the “promoters.” These customers eagerly tell others about you. They love you. Next, the “passives.” These are satisfied customers. However, they stay quiet about your shop. Finally, there are the “detractors.” They are unhappy customers. These shoppers usually speak louder than the other two. Target your email marketing with specific messages for each. The goal is to move as many as possible into the “promoters” category.
Loyal customers expect preferential treatment. Frankly, in today’s crowded retail/resale world, can you blame them? Consider an email marketing campaign giving your top customers a special VIP service, invitations to private “members-only” events or extra loyalty points. Read Stop the cycle of discounting to see other ways to reward their loyalty without giving a discount. By using emails to convey these promotions, your best customers become even bigger fans. This is the perfect group to start a bring-a-friend email promotion.
All of us know what it’s like to have overflowing email inboxes. You spend an hour merely clicking the “delete” button. To make sure your passive shoppers don’t easily delete your email messages, offer them something of value. A “we miss you” message can offer a special incentive to come back. Add a deadline date to ensure a quick response. Send an informational email that gives them the latest trends or even a survey that asks specific shopping experience questions. All of these build consignment store loyalty.
It may seem odd to reach out to your detractors, but often they just want to be heard. Nine times out of 10 if you reach out to a negative shopper, they’ll back down. Usually, all bark and no bite. Above all, tell them you are willing to listen and hopefully resolve their issue. Ask for another opportunity.
Be sure to give your customers their 15 minutes of fame. By emailing customer photos and sharing great stories or reviews, everyone gets to share in that warm, fuzzy feeling about your store. Create a sense of pride in customers because they’re being smart, savvy, earth-sustaining shoppers. Personalize messages to help them feel important. After awhile, you become a family rather than just another place to shop.
“80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers.” Forbes
For more on growing and using your email list:
There are many ways to name that location in your shop where customers come to make their purchase and you eagerly take their money. Remember, how you design it can make a big difference in your total sales numbers. Don’t neglect this vital part of the shopping process and by all means, constantly keep in mind it’s all about the ease and comfort of your customer! Here are 13 ways that you can improve the overall appearance and function of your consignment shop cash wrap.
For whatever reason, women cannot resist adding a little something to their purchase. The items have to be small not only to save space on the counter, but to make the impulse buy easier. Consider store gift cards, travel items, lip gloss, small toys, mints or greeting cards. Ideally, the merchandise should be priced under a couple of dollars and no more than $10. By all means, make sure the impulse items you display on your consignment shop cash wrap relate to your brand. This is also an excellent place to promote your Rewards Program!
North Americans shop like they drive. Everyone moves to the right. That means the best possible location for your check out station is on the left wall or at least to the left of your front door. Place your best items toward the back and put a clear path through the store to your cash wrap.
Believe it or not, the size of your cash wrap matters in the minds of your customers. For some, a smaller counter can psychologically make the buyer feel they are buying something larger and therefore more expensive. (That’s according to Paco Underhill in Why We Buy.) However, a spacious area can make the shopper feel as though they haven’t bought enough and should perhaps keep looking. The size of the cash wrap is determined by the size of your store, the type of merchandise you sell and at what price point. Use the American Disabilities Act as a guide for how much space is needed in front.
This doesn’t mean on the east wall of your shop. It means it should always be Efficient, Accessible, Simple and Tidy. Anything else is just clutter to distract the customer. If possible, the only things that should be on the actual counter are the customer’s purchase, her purse, and your neat and tidy POS system. Not only does this benefit the shopper, it’ll make your employees job so much easier.
Either hire or appoint someone to be your consignment shop cash wrap specialist or supervisor. This person needs to be prolific in understanding your POS system as well as your hardware. They’re responsible for merchandising the cash wrap; keeping the area clean and greeting customers when they come through the door. Consider elevating the position with special perks or a higher salary.
The wall directly behind your cash wrap is prime real estate. Everyone who stands waiting to check out sees that wall. Use it wisely. Consider painting it a bold color and featuring your name and logo or brand new items. Use a slatwall (or slotwall) that allows you to easily and regularly change the display. You could even paint seasonal backdrops that can be interchangeable throughout the year.
Lighting needs to be bright enough for the customer to retrieve something out of her purse and complete the transaction, but not glaring. Set the area off with attractive pendant lights or soft ambient lights that sit close to the counter. How you light your consignment shop directly relates to the comfort a shopper experiences. Set the mood. Use lights to guide customers through your store.
If you have any signs by your register that are handwritten, throw them away immediately! Not only does it look untidy, it speaks volumes about your shop. Professional shop owners don’t hand write signs and tape them to their cash wrap.
In addition to no handwritten signs, don’t have any negative signage either. If you must list policies at the register, find a positive way to state them. Offer printed flyers with guidelines and perhaps a sample contract.
Today’s shoppers are very different from even a decade ago. They have little tolerance for long lines and waiting to check out. Now may be the time to upgrade your current POS system or adding one if you are still doing things by hand. I suppose this is a perfect opportunity to tell you to sign up for a 15-day free trial with SimpleConsign.
If your cash wrap closes the sales associate in, you may want to find a way to open it up. A more open check out system makes the shopper feel welcomed and comfortable. According to FitSmallBusiness.com, there are 3 main cash wrap layouts. Choose the one that fits the size of your store, your brand and your wallet.
Train your sales associates to keep the cash wrap area clean and clear. Have a place below the counter for items like staplers, pens and pencils, safety pins, etc. When a sales associate finishes a sale, teach them to quickly put items away before they take care of the next customer. Eventually, it will become a quick and easy habit. Set a rule immediately that no food, beverages or electronic devices are to be kept by the register either. Instruct your sales team not to loiter around the cash register, but to come out from behind it and interact with customers.
In many instances, this is the last area your shoppers will visit before leaving your shop. Fun signs thanking them for coming in, special treats like a Hershey’s kiss or printed signs filled with the photos and quotes of satisfied customers offer a last chance to make a good impression. Remember again, it’s all about the ease and comfort of the customer…no one else.
Younger generations love a rewards program. In fact, studies show 70% of Millennials are members of some type of loyalty program. Likewise, 82% of Gen X is active in at least one or more loyalty plans. Many retail stores are revamping and updating their membership clubs. Today, shoppers are looking for personalized programs that offer immediate benefits. If you don’t have an established rewards program, now’s the time to create one. If you already have one, take a look at some of these ideas. It may be time to update.
“RIP Sears.” That was the subject line in a recent RetailWire email. According to the article, Sears is close to liquidation. They’re hanging on by their last thread. It’s sad. A trip with my Dad to Sears for tools was a regular Saturday morning event at my house. For over 125 years, it was an anchor for many suburban malls and a staple for tool and appliance buyers. So, what are the lessons consignment shops can learn from Sears’ downfall? Listen to the words of a few retail experts.
Experts say Eddie Lampert, current chairman and former CEO of Sears Holdings, ruined Sears. His expertise was in finance, not retail. In fact, incompetent leadership is rumored to have caused the downfall of Toys “R” Us and JC Penney too. Of course, wisdom tells us that very few consignment shops (if any) have greedy CEO’s looking to rake in millions to line their own pockets. However, we do know without strong leadership, any business fails. Success always begins at the top. What can you do in 2019 to improve your leadership skills? Sign up for our Consignment Business CheckUp. Examine your shop as well as your role as the business owner. For example, the CheckUp asks about your future vision, financial planning and current team of employees.
Growing and changing within our industry is part of the path to success. Neil Saunders, Managing Director of GlobalData lists the lessons learned from Sears, “don’t starve business of investment, aim to create financial stability…create a sound internal organization…have a clear point of differentiation and reason for existence, and evolve with the times.” That’s a mouthful, but the lesson for consignment shops is clear. Invest in your business, offer stable management, market your differences from other stores and be open to change. 2019 is your year. Upgrade the look of your store. Or, modernize your POS system. Don’t merely rely on past successes.
Many experts blame Sears for not sticking to its strongest message. While growing up, we always thought of Sears as a man’s store. The only reason my Mom shopped at Sears was for a new refrigerator. Buying clothing seemed downright weird. When they sold off their exclusive brands such as DieHard, Craftsman and Kenmore; stopped offering services like auto repair; and didn’t convert their infamous catalog to an online store, they lost their branding. Consignment shops need to have a solid brand. If you’re not sure about yours, read 6 tips to build your secondhand store’s brand. Success comes with a confident store identity.
As always, it revolves around your #1 resource, your customer. How well do you know your shoppers and what they expect of you? The customers of consignment shops are unique. They choose you for that personal attention. Likewise, they love hunting for a bargain. As Jeff Sward, founding partner of Merchandising Metrics writes, customers “shop product, pricing, presentation and path-to-purchase.” Owners of consignment shops need to remember these 4 P’s. Train your staff thoroughly. Read 10 customer service tips your sales team needs to adopt today. Remember, customers want to connect with like-minded people, not buildings.
It remains to be seen whether Sears can survive. Heated negotiations are going on even as I write. Above all, remain true to your customers, employees and brand. You’ll be in it for the long haul, I’m sure.
In a Fashionista article, the International Trademark Association declared $460 billion worth of counterfeit goods were bought and sold last year. Counterfeit handbags, known as “super fakes” or “Triple-A Fakes,” mostly sell online. The article reveals, “In earlier generations of fakes, one could simply look at the color of a leather handle, the type of metal used for the hardware or the lining and know instantly that it was counterfeit. Now that you can find knockoffs made with the same, or nearly identical, materials, as the real thing, that process has to be much more complicated and nuanced.”
The stories people tell when trying to sell or consign a luxury handbag run everywhere. “My boyfriend bought it for me, but we broke up.” “It was my grandmothers and she only carried authentic bags.” Even when a receipt, box and dustbag are present, there is no guarantee the bag is authentic. With the holiday season upon us, counterfeiters are banking on your lack of authentication knowledge to increase their sales. Plus, well-meaning consignors may unknowingly try to consign a counterfeit bag. If you are utilizing Entrupy, however, it will be Happy Holidays for all!
Luxury branded handbags are one of the biggest sources of revenue for a consignment store. Knowing the difference between authentic and fake can mean hundreds or thousands of dollars. Imagine if a potential customer brings you a gorgeous Chanel flap bag which could net you at least a $1,000. Are you going to turn it away because you’re not sure? Are you going to accept it on consignment and spend the next 5 hours on Google trying to authenticate yourself? Or, take photos, email them to an online authentication company and hope they know what they are doing? Sometimes, you can wait anxiously for 2-3 days before receiving a response. Spending hours trying to authenticate a bag is no longer an option.
Turning money away was never in your business plan and it shouldn’t be now. But, if you’re unfamiliar with certain luxury brands or styles, you really didn’t have an option, until now. By utilizing Entrupy to authenticate luxury handbags and small accessories, you now have control of the authentication process. Luckily, you will know in minutes if an item is authentic or not. This will not only free up your time but more importantly, by including a Certificate of Authenticity from Entrupy, those bags are going to sell faster and for more money.
Recently, Entrupy launched a partnership with SimpleConsign. We’re pleased to offer our authentication device for SimpleConsign users at a 50% discounted set-up fee. This new partnership will allow you to grow your luxury footprint. With Entrupy, your store becomes the only place in your community to sell technology-driven authenticated luxury handbags and accessories. In addition, by offering authentication as a service, you create a new revenue stream for your business.
Learn more about this unique partnership at: SimpleConsign Partners