Tennis Industry magazine


Retailing Tip: There Are Still Only Three Ways To Grow Your Retail Biz!

Technology has changed retail, but focusing on business fundamentals remains the smart approach.

By Jay Townley

No matter how sophisticated the technology shoppers and retailers use, there are still only three ways specialty tennis and pro-shop retailers can grow their businesses:

Increasing the number of customers is a challenge all retailers are struggling with. Relatively flat sales have been compounded by steadily declining shoppers at brick-and-mortar stores over the past six years, all while online purchases have steadily increased.

In response, the retail world has overwhelmingly incorporated some form of “omni-channel” retailing — meaning commerce-enabled websites and social media providers being integrated with brick-and-mortar store brand and operations. One of the most common forms of omni-channel retailing is ordering online and picking up in the store. The objectives are increasing the number of customers — that is, shoppers who are converted and closed — and developing a long-term relationship. This will generate positive word-of-mouth and increase the number of customers — both physical and cyber.

Increasing the number of transactions goes hand-in-hand with increasing the number of customers, but its most powerful application is increasing the number of transactions with existing customers! Eighty percent of sales at the typical specialty retail store come from about 20 percent of the customer base. If you could increase that number to 25 percent, think about the financial impact it could have!

Think of it this way: All your costs are being covered by doing regular business — or, transactions with about 20 percent of the customer base — so adding an additional 5 percent is essentially incremental, and won’t cost appreciably more. If you personally addressed and signed 100 postcards per day until you have sent them to your entire customer list, you will have a simple but extremely effective method for increasing the number of transactions your shop does with your customer base. It also will increase store traffic. To go a bit more high-tech, use emails instead of postcards, and include a code customers can use when visiting the store’s website to make a purchase.

Increasing the value of each transaction is all about upgrading and add-on sales. Many specialty retailers and sales associates are reluctant to “sell up” or suggest add-on items — and while we agree both have to be done carefully and with some skill, we also know that no retailer or sales associate is going to sell today’s consumer anything they don’t want! Shoppers today will not hesitate to make it clear when they are done buying. If done properly, there is no downside to making a knowledgeable recommendation or suggestion for additional sales — in fact, most of your customers expect it!

Jay Townley is a partner in the retail consulting firm Gluskin Townley Group (



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