Improving the conversion rate of your store is a very cost efficient way to increase your sales without spending more on marketing and without giving away discounts and sacrificing your margins.
What is Conversion Rate in Retail?
Conversion rate is the number of people who buy from you out of the total number of people who entered your store.
Conversion Rate Formula
Conversion Rate = no. of transactions ÷ traffic x 100
Let’s say 1000 people entered your store, out of which 40 people bought. The conversion rate will be 40 ÷ 1000 x 100 = 4%
Conversion Rate Formula in Excel
You can create the formula in excel sheet by dividing the no. of transactions by traffic and multiplying by 100 or setting the result field to show as percentage.
You can also use our free online Retail KPIs Calculator
How Does Conversion Rate Affect Retail Sales?
You will be impressed how much one point increase in conversion rate can add to your top line as we will show with examples now.
Let’s look at an example and assume traffic and ATV are fixed.
Traffic x conversion x ATV = Sales
2500 x 20% x 200$ = 100,000 $
2500 x 21% x 200$ = 105,000 $
Improving conversion rate by 1 point only has Increased sales by 5%
How to Measure Retail Store Traffic?
Retail stores measure traffic by installing people counters at the entrance. These devices use infrared technology and are calibrated in way to count anyone passing by a designated area in the entrance. Retailers usually adjust this area to allow for a small passage at both ends for store staff to use, so that they will not be counted. They are also usually calibrated in a way to measure above a certain height, so that toddlers will not be counted.
If these counters are not calibrated correctly they might capture traffic out of the store, by counting people just passing by in the mall. That’s why they are usually set in the beginning and compared against a manual count for a short period and based on that the set up area will be confirmed.
In order for the results to be accurate, store staff should strictly use the non-counted area or use a backdoor to enter and exit the store. However; retailers usually allow for a room for error when reading traffic results and take that into account.
Read Also: 6 Free Ways to Increase Your Store’s Traffic
What is a Good Conversion Rate for Retail Stores?
A good conversion rate for a retail store is 20% or more. Stores that are located in a busy mall or street can have a lower conversion rate at around 15%, due to the fact that more people pass by the store while being in the mall for other purposes, such as entertainment or dining.
We have also seen stores that delivered higher conversion rates, and these stores were located at lower traffic malls or are stand-alone stores in a small neighborhood. This is because most people who visit these stores have the intention to buy. In this case the conversion rate went up to 40%.
How to Increase Conversion Rate in Retail?
The key to increasing conversion rate in retail & ecommerce is to find out exactly why customers are leaving the store without buying and fixing those issues.
You will find that the main reason people leave your store without buying is because they didn’t find what they want. Most of the ways to increase conversion will focus on this aspect.
1. Improving Product Knowledge
Having a sales team that knows the ins & outs of the products they are selling will improve conversion rates. Many times your customers will ask for a certain product that is not available, but has lots of alternatives. Having a trained sales team with good product knowledge will guide the customer towards those alternatives and successfully completing the sale.
Just think about how many times you went shopping for a certain product but came back with a different one that fulfills the same function, maybe even in a better or cheaper way, and you were equally satisfied.
2. Hiring The Right Sales People
Not everyone is able to sell! Not everyone is replaceable as they say. Having (and keeping) the right sales people makes the biggest difference in your sales and conversions.
There might be certain frictions in the selling process, especially for high ticket items, that only your most skilled people can resolve and complete the sale.
You will find that if you have a sales team and have a lead generation program in place, those who achieve the highest sales have probably received the same number of leads, but they converted more people because of their persuasion skills.
So having skilled sales people will improve your conversion.
3. Changing Store Layout & Navigation
In many cases you will have the product in the store, but because customers couldn’t find it quickly and easily they just left without buying.
You will not always have a sales person available to assist the customer, especially on high traffic days. That’s why a simple tweak as putting clear navigation signs could make a big difference.
Also make sure you design your store layouts to be based on how customers actually shop, rather than pure aesthetics (visual display).
For e-commerce, consider how you display categories, related products, and use of filters (by size, by color..etc).
4. Avoiding Analysis Paralysis
This might be surprising to you, but research has shown, over and over again, that giving the customers too many choices actually paralyzes their mind and makes them more likely to stop the buying process altogether.
You will also find that, according to The 80/20 Principle, 80% of your sales will come from only 20% of your products.
That’s another reason to optimize your product offering and focus on products that are actually in demand and hold the varieties that sell the most.
To do this you will need to keep monitoring and analyzing your sales reports by SKUs and tweak your buying process accordingly.
Read More: Product Sourcing With an Edge
5. Capturing Missed Opportunities
Because the main reason customers leave without buying is that they couldn’t find what they wanted, you will find that having a system in place to capture missing sales opportunities and working on making these products available in the future will improve your conversion rate and your sales.
Fo e-commerce you can find this out by analyzing the keywords that customers used to reach your store, or the keywords they used in your internal search engine, as well as the keywords they searched for on google but didn’t click on your link.
In Google Search Console you can see the queries that customers used in searching items that are relevant to your store, and see the ranking your page has for these keywords.
In many cases you will find products that are related to what you sell (that’s why you show up in the results) but you don’t carry the exact product (that’s why your ranking was low and you didn’t get many clicks).
Chances are, many customers that came and left your store were looking for these products and didn’t find them. Sourcing these products will then improve your conversion as well as your traffic.
For brick & mortar stores I usually ask my store managers to keep a notebook and record the products that customers asked for and we didn’t carry. If a product gets repeated requests from different stores, and it was feasible to carry it, I go ahead and find a supplier for it.
Most of the new, successful product launches we made over the last few years were based on this mechanism of capturing missed opportunities.
6. Implementing Easier, Faster Checkout
Many customers will leave the store, despite needing the product, if they find out they will have to wait too long to check out. Same applies to e-commerce, make your checkout page simple & fast and highlight payment methods that people prefer & trust. Also consider guest check out, if it will work for you.
7. Reviewing The Store’s Return Policy
I was once working for a retailer selling products that can be bought as a gift (fragrances). I made it very easy for customers to exchange the product because not everyone can predict whether the other person will love the fragrance they were gifting them. Making this easy and highlighting this fact increases conversions because customers know that the other person can always exchange it with the one he likes.
This of course depends on the products you sell in your store. Selling digital products for example would make it almost impossible to apply such a policy. Also for e-commerce, handling the returned shipment could be very costly, so you might need to weigh the pros & cons first or run some tests and see how changing your return policy is affecting your sales and your costs, and then make your decision.
These have been just a few ways that have worked for me over the years to improve conversion rates at my stores. I intentionally left out some ways, such as giving discounts or offers, because I wanted to focus on those tweaks that you can make, that will cost you nothing in spending or margins, but will take your sales much further.
Retail is a numbers game! You will find, over & over again, that tweaking just a single variable like conversion, ATV, IPC, margin will quickly cascade down to your business performance and end profitability.
Read More: Types of Sales Reports
We’ve shown here that increasing conversion by 1 single point could increase sales by 5%. Now take this 5% increase, put it in your P&L template and see how much added net profit this will give you at the end of the year, with everything else being equal.
The results might blow your mind!
Read more on sales management for retail & ecommerce
Retailer & Founder of Retail Dogma, Inc.
Rasha has 14 years of retail & ecommerce experience. She has started an ecommerce business in 2008, and later worked at H&M, Bath & Body Works, Victoria’s Secret and Landmark Group. She’s lived in 4 different countries, speaks 3 different languages and holds a BSc in Pharmaceutical Sciences and an MBA in Strategic Management & Marketing.