Learn how to take advantage of unexpected sales opportunities
- Numerous factors affect why shoppers buy. You can’t plan for all of them in an annual marketing plan.
- By paying attention to sales data and analyzing trends, you can identify opportunities to increase revenue.
- Know the conditions that affect your shoppers’ purchase decisions so you can place timely advertisements, schedule sales more effectively, highlight products in your store and identify future opportunities.
Every retailer knows the adage of moving an umbrella display to the front of the store when it is raining. But these days savvy retailers are more sophisticated about acting quickly to take full advantage of a wide range of opportunities in the moment.
Sears, for example, boosted car battery sales by scheduling ads to run after three consecutive days of sub-zero temperatures, when older car batteries tend to die.1 And Target discovered that by analyzing purchase data it could figure out which shoppers were pregnant, so it could customize ads to them.2
Researchers have also found some unexpected connections, such as people are more likely to buy newspaper subscriptions when the sun is shining.3
One advantage of being a small business is the ability to respond faster than large companies to changes in the local market. Here are ways to use that advantage:
- Know the triggers. Pay attention to customers and your community. Look for events, trends and historical data that signal opportunities to increase sales. For example, if you see a rising number of prescriptions for Tamiflu, post a note on your Facebook page about an over-the-counter product your pharmacy offers to treat flu-like systems. Or, if you sell shirts in your front end emblazoned with the high school logo and the team is going to a state championship, you can delay marking down the prices at the end of the regular season.
- Watch the forecast. One study found a one-degree increase in temperature can cause an 11% increase in sales of sun care products.4 The impact of weather on shopping patterns differs significantly by location, however. For example, the temperature at which sales of women’s shorts rise may differ by 10 degrees from Las Vegas to Seattle.5 Review your own data to see how weather affects sales in your store. Be prepared to quickly run promotions based on specific conditions (e.g., hot, cold, rain, snow).
- Check the local calendar. Planning your marketing well ahead is important, but don’t miss opportunities that pop up throughout the year. For example, if a political march is scheduled near your pharmacy, you might want to add staffing and stay open later that day. (Review “Map out your pharmacy marketing plan for the year ahead.”)
- Identify emerging trends. Sales of Reese’s Pieces tripled in two weeks after the candy appeared in the movie E.T., and some stores had trouble keeping it in stock. Pay attention to what’s happening in the world that could affect sales.6
Systematize fast responses
Put processes and systems in place for what you will monitor, who will take action and how your pharmacy will follow up.
Find out whether you can set your pharmacy software to monitor key data, such as a spike in product sales. Train your staff on how to improve sales when opportunities arise, and look for ways to extend the benefit to your store.
For example, when people are filling a Tamiflu prescription, the cashier might ask if they’d like to receive a reminder to come in for a flu shot next fall.
Be fast and flexible
Overall, be flexible and spontaneous. Remember that Arby’s received a boost without buying an ad, simply by tweeting “Hey @Pharrell, can we have our hat back? #GRAMMYs.”7 Be ready to respond creatively when opportunity presents itself — as it always does.