Retail Sales Tips: Selling More During Peak Hours



There’s no getting around it: 2020 was a rough year for in-store traffic. April 2020 saw a whopping 96.4% reduction in foot traffic for US retailers. The good news is that traffic is starting to recover, with Black Friday seeing nearly half as much more traffic in 2021 than last year. 

Most retailers share the goal of driving more foot traffic and continuing to bring shoppers back to the store, but there’s a second hurdle inherent in that goal: what good are more customers if you aren’t selling more during peak hours? 

Whether it’s through cross-selling and upselling, promotions or just flat-out amazing customer service, selling more during peak hours is a must for any retailer that wants to grow. 

In this post, let’s focus on how you can do just that with six retail sales tips: 

  1. Find your store’s peak hours
  2. Schedule your top sales associates
  3. Provide effective sales training
  4. Offer complimentary and paid services 
  5. Launch attention-getting promotions
  6. Speed up the buying process

Editor’s note: This blog is part of a series where we focus on how to get in-store sales. If you want to generate more online awareness, incentivize people to visit your store and maximize in-store sales, we highly recommend that you check out the whole series:

Local inventory ads: bring shoppers in store with Lightspeed and Google

With Google local inventory ads and Lightspeed, you can reach local customers online and bring them in store without leaving your POS.

Sales tip 1: find your store’s peak hours 

The first thing you need to sell more during peak business hours is to actually know when your peak hours are. 

Half of your total sales come from around the 20 busiest hours of the week—this is the 50/20 rule. 2020 saw sales during peak selling hours increase slightly as shoppers became more focused in their outings, and the peaks themselves shifted from evenings and weekends to afternoons and weekdays. 2021 has seen some of those peaks shift back to pre-2020 levels, but there’s no hard and fast rule that says your shoppers will be following either pattern. 

If you had a good grasp on your peak hours prior to 2020, you’ll still want to find out when shoppers are shopping now. Even with some workers returning to the office in 2021, the patterns of life have been shaken up enough that you’ll want to double check what your customers are doing. 

Start by evaluating the volume of people in your store and when they’re most likely to purchase. You can find that out using your point of sale system’s sales and employee reports; with Lightspeed, we suggest pulling the Sales by Hour of Day report for a clear view of the percentage of total sales each hour of the day accounts for. 

But keep in mind that peak in-store traffic might not align with your best selling hours. If customers are just browsing, your point of sale systems sales reports can’t capture that information. 

If you’re curious about your non-transactional store traffic, we’re a big fan of RetailNext, a people counter solution that measures walk-in customers, average visit durations and store flow patterns, and pushes those numbers in real-time to your point of sale system. 

It’s also a good idea to compare your online sales versus your in-store sales by day of the week. Are there days of the week where online sales or site traffic spikes? Perhaps you can run a promotion that’s exclusive for in-store customers (or offer free in-store pickup), advertise it on your site and convert more online traffic into in-store sales. 

To do just that, we like using Lightspeed’s eCom Sales by Day of the Week report. By knowing when your online store is most active, you can explore running dayparting campaigns, timing your in-store promotions better and converting that traffic into sales.  

Sales tip 2: schedule your top sales associates 

Now that you know when your peak hours are, you can schedule your A-Team of sales associates to get the most of that traffic. Hopefully your sales team is strong across the board, but even so, you’ll have top performers who really stand out. 

Take a look at your employee reports and pinpoint the sales associates with the highest total sales and items per transaction in relation to their hours worked. If possible, we also suggest checking their customer reviews through a post-purchase NPS survey.

You want to identify the sales associates who are most effective at closing sales and put them on the schedule during peak hours because they’re the ones who can generate the most revenue.

Retail sales tip: Lightspeed Analytics’ Individual Performance and Upsells employee reports can help you track this. This can tell you a great deal about which team members you want to call in during those busy periods.

In many cases, these sales associates have the most experience and have a great deal of knowledge about your brand, services and products. They’ll be able to help the customers effectively and offer relevant recommendations with a smile. 

We suggest scheduling at least one of your top-performers at all times when you’re expecting high volumes of traffic. 

However, in order to have top sales associates at all, you need to have sales associates that are ready to work—employees that aren’t burned out and that are motivated to provide the best possible customer service. The pandemic has been hard on retailer workers’ morale, with many quitting the industry altogether.

The good news is that your sales goals line up nicely with two of the main things workers need to feel less burned out: predictable, set schedules and appreciation from managers

Your peak periods shouldn’t change much week to week, so your top performers should have a relatively predictable period of time they can expect to work. Make sure they know you’re scheduling them for peak periods because you appreciate their hard work, and keep the line of communication open for all your employees. 

Sales tip 3: provide effective sales training

Ideally, all of your sales associates can hold their own on the sales floor, especially when it comes to effectively cross-selling and upselling products and services. 

Cross-selling allows you to encourage add-on items to purchase, such as getting users who are buying an engagement ring to buy the matching wedding band with it. 

Upselling is the practice of getting users to purchase a product that’s a higher value than the one they were originally looking at. Instead of that $1,000 engagement ring they’re considering, you also want to show them the $1,500 counterpart and explain why it’s superior, as long as you think it’s within their budget. 

Both cross-selling and upselling can significantly increase average transaction value (ATV) and maximize revenue. Make sure your sales associates have enough product knowledge to be able to suggest alternative and additional purchases that are relevant to the customer’s wants and needs. 

You can read about cross-selling and upselling in-depth here, but here are a few simple retail sales tips to teach your employees:

  • Recommend complementary products to the one that customer is purchasing, framing it as a package, bundle deal or perfect set. If they’re buying a phone, suggest car chargers and phone cases, too.
  • Put the emphasis on the features. When upselling, search for needs customers may have that could be solved with the higher-value product. A newer version of the phone, for example, may have superior camera and call-recording features that a journalist or reporter could benefit extensively from.
  • Ask about what else the customer may need and suggest products. “Is there anyone else you wanted to shop for?” is a great question to ask, actively putting the task of coming up with additional purchases on the customer’s mind. 

When it comes to online selling, there are a ton of eCommerce plugins to choose from, like MyAbandonedCart for Lightspeed eCommerce users.

MyAbandonedCart helps retailers reduce the number of abandoned carts by sending that customer an email reminder. Recovering abandoned shopping carts is a must-have for anyone selling online. 

Sales tip 4: offer complimentary and paid services 

Complementary services can not only encourage people to visit your store, but they can also encourage additional purchases. 

For fashion and apparel retailers, tailoring is a great example of a (paid or complimentary, depending on your budget) service that can drive more sales. If a pair of pants doesn’t fit exactly how a customer wants, you can close the sale by offering to tailor the garment exactly to their liking. Moreover, you can invite the customer to tailor other garments at your store. This not only helps you close a sale, but increases that customer’s lifetime value with repeat purchases. 

In-store services can help seal the deal during peak hours—they can turn browsers into buyers with the extra enticement. But they can also help you increase sales during off-peak hours. 

Say you’ve done the math and you’ve found that your peak hours have settled into a late afternoon on weekdays pattern. If you wanted more traffic in the store on Sundays and in the evenings, you could start encouraging appointment shopping. A pet store could have a groomer visit the store during off-peak hours, while an apparel store could offer personal shopping and styling then. The appointments and services will bring traffic in during those slower hours while offering your shoppers new value beyond the products you sell.

Sales tip 5: launch attention-getting promotions

Here’s an easy retail sales tip: a solid in-store promo can help your employees close more sales. We suggest focusing your in-store promotional efforts on point of sale marketing and time-sensitive promotions. 

Optimize in-store promotional materials 

Did you know that your store layout has an effect on sales? Placing low-cost add-ons near your cash register can incentivize last-minute impulse purchases. We call this point of sale marketing

You’ll also want to have in-store promotional materials that can help your team with some of the selling, too. 

Signs that use FOMO-driven language leverage scarcity and urgency to remind users to take advantage of a limited-time offer, and they can incentivize people to purchase more or different products. 

Create time-sensitive in-store promotions 

Online shopping has increased significantly in recent years, partially thanks to the sheer convenience of it (especially during times shoppers couldn’t visit stores). As a result, it’s not uncommon to have people come into your store to browse, but who may not have a ton of motivation to purchase.

You can drive more high-intent traffic into your store by promoting time-sensitive in-store promotions online. 

Bring customers into your physical store with flash sales, great deals on in-stock clearance items, and even offers like free gifts like a makeup palette with a purchase over a certain value. You can then have your well-trained, high-performing staff leverage upselling and cross-selling, increasing their purchases overall.

Time-sensitive can be key here because you want to drive purchases now; if people feel like a great deal will run out fast, they’ll be much more likely to purchase right away instead of wanting to think it over. 

Sales tip 6: speed up the buying process 

Before the pandemic, peak sales hours were chaotic, with sales associates waiting in line to check out their customers, and customers lined up halfway through the store. It wasn’t uncommon to see customers walk in, decide it was too busy and walk back out, even if they would have likely purchased otherwise. 

While we’re not quite back at that level of in-store activity yet, traffic is steadily increasing and shoppers have gotten used to convenience with online shopping (which has no wait times beyond shipping). 

Setting up a mobile POS system is something that all retail stores should be doing to get to the heart of in-store delays. Each of your sales staff can have their own tablet that they can use to quickly process sales and complete transactions. They can do this anywhere in the store, without having to be at the cash register. That streamlines and improves the experience for both your team and your customers alike. It also means sales associates can serve and check out shoppers through the store, encouraging safe distancing and cutting down on lengthy lines.

An Irisys study found that the average American consumer will leave a store without making a purchase after waiting eight minutes. Retailers simply can’t afford to make customers wait, since it’s more than likely to impact their sales. 

You want customers to be able to purchase the second they’re ready to do so, as it eliminates the risk of someone walking due to a long wait time. And don’t forget that the faster your team is able to complete one transaction, the sooner they can serve another customer and make more sales.

Curbside pickup helps here as well. It marries the best of both worlds for shoppers in a hurry: they can browse online at their leisure, then skip shipping times and still indulge in the superior customer service you’ve trained your associates to offer. With a mobile POS, handling pickup orders during peak selling hours doesn’t slow your employees down.

Sell more during peak business hours 

Increasing retail sales during peak hours sounds like it should be easy, but unless you’re taking intentional steps to maximize sales, there’s a good chance that you’re missing out on major revenue. 

These six retail sales tips will go a long way in helping you to increase your overall sales.

  1. Find your store’s peak hours
  2. Schedule your top sales associates
  3. Provide effective sales training
  4. Offer complimentary and paid services 
  5. Launch attention-getting promotions
  6. Speed up the buying process

Ready to implement these tips into your store? You need a commerce platform that can keep up. Get in touch for a free consult to see if Lightspeed is the right system for you.



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