HomeOPINIONNine ways to turn shoppers into buyers this holiday season

Nine ways to turn shoppers into buyers this holiday season

Our hit webinar with Bob Phibbs — called  How to Turn Lookers into Buyers This Holiday Season — may have taken place a year ago, but Bob’s tips and lessons are still as relevant and insightful as ever.

Since it’s almost the holidays, we thought we’d revisit some key takeaways from the event. If you’re looking to convert window shoppers and potential customers into buyers this Christmas (and let’s face it, who isn’t?) below are some things to think about and put into action before the holidays officially kick in.

Store display, signage, and layout tips

The look and feel of your store can heavily influence people’s purchase decisions, so you want to make sure your displays and layouts are effective. Here are Bob’s tips for optimizing the physical elements of your shop:

Get customers to focus on one thing.

Bob advised retailers to have just one point of focus for each display. Avoid trying to sell too many items at once.


As an example, he showed us a photo of a microwave popcorn bowl display. As you can see in the image above, the merchant did a great job of getting people to focus on the bowl. Not only did they display the item prominently, but they cleverly used props such as popcorn and a cardboard microwave oven to showcase the product.

The display was “simple, complete, interesting, and easy to understand,” said Bob. This, according to him, is what you should aim for with your displays.

“Remember, somebody is going to look at their smartphone any second now. It’s going to chirp or do something that’s going to grab their attention and take them somewhere else. So the more we can engage people with an easy-to-understand display, the better,” he added.

Evoke emotions through signage.

Bob reminded people that buying is an emotional act. “Many of us think that it’s an analytical act, and it’s all about price…but there’s always going to be somebody cheaper. Ultimately, if you’re going to convert a looker into a buyer, it’s going to come down to a feeling.


Here’s a great example from appliance store Pirch. Their store display, which featured a sign reading “Remember the day you rode without training wheels?” was compelling because it managed to bring up feelings and memories in their customers.

Many of us can remember how we felt when we rode without training wheels for the first time, and Pirch cleverly tapped into those feelings through their display.

Strive to do something similar in your business. Go beyond generic signage and marketing materials, and instead create something that can evoke powerful emotions in your customers. Doing so will grab their attention, make you more memorable, and even convince them to buy.

Generate impulse sales at the checkout area.

Bob advised retailers to place holiday impulse items at the checkout counter. According to him, these items must:

  • be under $20.
  • not require much thought (i.e. be something everyone can use).
  • be accompanied with interesting signage.
  • be pre-wrapped (but sit next to one unwrapped item to show what’s inside).

As an example, Bob showed us how one of his clients encouraged impulse buys at checkout. They displayed a sign on their counter reading “The gift you forgot!” and it successfully drove sales for the retailer.

See if you can do something similar this season.

Angle your fixtures properly.


Forty-five degree angles invite people to look and touch, while 90-degree angles stop them from doing so. That’s why you may want to use more 45-degree angles when positioning your displays and fixtures.

Have a look at what Mont Blanc did with their display. Angled at 45 degrees, Mont Blanc’s products and fixtures stood out even more and did a good job of catching the attention of passers-by. According to Bob, this type of display is much more natural and inviting than those using right angles.

Staff management pointers

Bob also tackled how retailers can improve staff performance this holiday season (and beyond). Check out his pointers below.

Know your peak hours, and schedule shifts accordingly.

Be smart about how you schedule shifts in your store. Bob said retailers should schedule for the rush — not for the convenience of the staff. You don’t want to give somebody a 9am to 5pm shift if you’re really going to be busy from 1pm to 7pm.

According to him, the typical “rush hours” in retail are 11am to 4pm on Saturdays and 1pm to 3pm on Sundays. To be sure, observe your foot traffic patterns to identify your busiest times, then schedule shifts accordingly.

Instruct employees to greet every guest that walks in.

Make sure your customers’ in-store experience is off to a positive start by greeting everyone who walks into the shop. Doing so makes shoppers feel welcome and encourages them to look around. It also sends the message that you’re paying attention to people in the store, thus deterring shoplifters from trying anything fishy.

Get employees into the habit of listening to customers and repeating what they say.

“If somebody says they’re looking for a certain product, have your employees get into the habit of listening and repeating back,” added Bob.

Doing this helps them understand what the customer needs and reduces the risk of mistakes. “It always kills me how many people think it’s all about trying to close the sale at the end when you really got it wrong in the beginning.”

Avoid the phrase, “Anything else?”

Saying the phrase “Anything else?” is the “hallmark of an untrained employee,” said Bob. Rather than using that tired old phrase, simply ask, “Who else is on your list?”

Remember, most people just want to be done with their holiday shopping. So if you can help them find what they’re looking for and save them trips to other stores, you’re going to make their day — and yours, for that matter.

Speed up the checkout experience.

The best way to make sure the checkout experience is as smooth and convenient as possible is to plan in advance and instill a sense of urgency in your staff.

“You have to train your employees to hustle,” he added. “That means if you have gift boxes, they need to be ready to go. They also need to know how to bag things, how to fold things, and they should know what to do if the POS stops working or if you need other supplies.”

“All that needs to be thought of ahead of time, because if you don’t think about this, it’s going to hit you at a time when you can least afford it — in the middle of a rush.”

There are plenty more holiday sales tips to go around.

Need more tips to convert Christmas shoppers? Watch the recording of Bob’s webinar here.

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Francesca Nicasio is a retail expert and blogger for Vend, an iPad-based point-of-sale software that helps merchants manage and grow their business. This article was republished from Vend's retail blog, where Vend talks about trends, tips, and other cool things that can help stores increase sales and serve customers better.