opinion

Summer Sales Tips for Retailers

Summer Sales Tips for Retailers

One of the things I love most about retail is that no two days are ever the same. It’s a fast-paced world of constant change and evolution. In fact, one of the biggest factors inspiring marketing creativity and driving sales for e-tailers and brick-and-mortar retailers alike is the changing seasons.

Each new season can mean new store events, new foot traffic and new display opportunities. However, these changes can be hard since often they also come with shifts in product demand and staffing. Steering the ship as your store’s leader can therefore take a lot of energy. With the summer fully upon us, I decided to share some of my top tips for dealing with this season’s most common stresses.

Summer is a great time to audit your inventory and make some future buying decisions.

Summer Staffing

Staffing can often be a challenge, but the summer months should lessen the burden of covering the sales floor. For most stores, foot traffic is lighter in the summer, which usually translates to softer sales. Planning for these slow months can help cushion your bottom line even if sales are down. Scaling back on staffing is a great way to save some money and give employees time to rest and recharge before heading into fall. Look at floor coverage and where you can cut some hours. Encourage employees to use their PTO or vacation time so that when things do get busy, store associates are available to accommodate. Utilize this down time to promote employee well-being. It’s easy to get burned out in retail, especially with the uptick in traffic that the pandemic has brought the adult retail industry. 

On the other hand, if you find yourself short-staffed this summer, you can try working with local colleges to place students looking for summer work. Networking with other businesses has also always been helpful for me year-round since I’m able to ask for referrals from their candidate overflow.

Product Management

Summer is also a great time to audit your inventory and make some future buying decisions. Move out slow sellers and don’t reorder those styles. Stop the clearance cycle. Look at your bestsellers and compare them to your favorite companies’ new releases: where can you upgrade? Inventory management can be one of the most challenging jobs in retail, and a store buyer’s decisions regarding inventory are critical. Spending time doing thorough research when the sales floor is slow can help set you up for tremendous success when things get busy again.

You also want your inventory to resonate with staff and engage customers. Summer is a great time to catch up on online or in-person trainings, which are essential to educate your salespeople about products’ unique selling points. Distributors and manufacturers are very eager to help you boost sales via trainings and may also offer programs to incentivize staff. Aside from providing education, trainings can also offer new ways to partner with your suppliers, from in-store marketing support such as signage to sales incentives. Manufacturers also have a lot of online content for social media marketing to help drive traffic to your store. The more you partner with your buying sources, the stronger your business becomes, since these relationships can boost both sales and morale.

Summer Cleaning

Making upgrades to the store when you have high traffic can be difficult. Dedicate some time to small improvement projects that can be done during downtime. For example, spruce up the store with a little paint touch-up, especially the entrance area. Thoroughly cleaning high-traffic areas, such as by shampooing carpets, can make a big difference in how customers perceive the store. Looking for some fresh opinions on where you can improve? Consider outside shopping services that rate stores, or secret shopping. Secret shoppers aren’t just there to judge store associates. Let the company you are working with know where you are looking for feedback, so the shopper can focus on those areas.

While we’re cleaning and sprucing up, let’s talk about handwritten signs. This isn’t just a pet peeve of mine; handwritten signs can really distract from the shopping experience. I walk into so many stores that have a beautiful presentation, but then I see a handwritten sign and it breaks my heart. There are free design options online, such as Canva.com and Avery.com, or simply use PowerPoint on your computer, since it offers more artistic options than word processing programs. Printing signage at places like FedEx or Kinkos is inexpensive and easy. Or ask your favorite print shop to create custom artwork for your store!

In-Store Events

Summer encompasses unique holidays and events, from Pride and the Fourth of July to festivals, fairs, parades and community outings that take place when it’s warm out. Explore your options and how you can participate in ways that make sense for your store. Don’t limit yourself to just toys — most adult stores carry plenty of other products that can be sold and displayed at public events. Beyond mainstream events, dungeons and other adult clubs often host events throughout the year; try getting involved with communities that you may not usually work with.

These are just a few strategies for increasing foot traffic, sales and community involvement. I think I can speak on behalf of most distributors and manufacturers when I say, let us help you! We want to be involved in your store, big or small. There are always ways to improve your current practices and we have the assets to help you do that.

Here’s wishing everyone a fabulous summer season. Happy selling!

Danielle Seerley, aka “America’s Sex Toy Sweetheart” (AmericasSexToySweetheart.com), is the senior sales executive for Shibari Wands and Voodoo Toys.

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