Four old-school retail practices that still work

The British high street may look very different to what it did ten or twenty years ago, but it’s definitely not dead! Although online shopping and out of town shopping centres may have taken over from certain high street stores, there remains a demand for certain types of ‘old-school’ businesses – and some equally ‘old-fashioned’ business practices.

18th October 2016

These retail techniques might not be as new and flashy as beacons, click and collect or Amazon’s instant order buttons – but they work. Don’t ditch them just because they’ve been around longer than your shop building!

#1 Manned tills

While self checkouts are a godsend if you’re looking to make a quick trip to the supermarket before you’ve fully woken up, for builders’ merchants and DIY stores, they can be an impractical, expensive mistake. Given the large, heavy, awkwardly shaped items that many customers want to buy (many of which won’t have barcodes), they won’t be quite so efficient in these stores.

Manned tills offer another advantage for independent DIY stores. They provide the chance to further differentiate your store from the big chains, as you offer a friendly face and access to expert staff who can answer queries competently.

#2 Direct mail

While digital marketing is certainly important, don’t abandon old-school marketing methods just yet. Well-targeted direct mail campaigns can actually have a cost per lead roughly comparable to marketing emails. By targeting direct mail recipients carefully, you can reduce the chance of your mail being thrown straight in the bin. Indeed, for some consumers, direct mail may even have become something of a novelty, whereas they might receive a dozen marketing emails a day.

#3 Up-selling and cross-selling

Consider this: when you shop online, websites constantly recommend other items that match those in your basket. For example, Amazon shows items that are frequently bought together, and items that customers who bought the current item also bought.

By using point of sale and stock control software, you can draw on similar data to make accurate product recommendations during the checkout process. Up-selling and cross-selling are tricky to master, but can become significant revenue sources once your staff have learnt the art. Check out more details on up-selling, cross-selling and EPOS software.

#4 Bespoke customer service

Here’s another old-school retail tactic that online retailers have tried to mirror: personal, flexible customer service.

It may be cheaper and easier to hire unskilled staff and not bother to train them, but if your employees are clued up on the products you sell and have exemplary customer service skills, your business is in a good spot! It should be common sense that customer service is so valuable, but far too many retailers opt to cut staff costs instead of safeguarding top-notch customer service.

Of course, times have changed – and some older business practices haven’t survived recent innovations and movements in demand. Every business must change with the times, whether that means maintaining a website, opening an online store, or opting for a cutting-edge stock control system.

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