Three In-Store Sales Techniques You Should Be Using Online

Rabia Qureshi, Business Development Manager UK for Nosto, shares the sales techniques she has seen successfully used both in-store and online…

“My line of work requires me to come into contact with a range retailers’ websites on a daily basis. I spend a lot of my time talking to them directly understanding their pain points for their website or hearing them speak at panels or meet-ups. I recently attended a Shopify event where I heard from Clare Rees, the owner of the Library of Fragrances and her advice on thinking outside of the box to grow your online business. It occurred to me that many merchants know their offline business inside out and so know exactly what to do when selling their products in their stores. But how many have realized that the sales techniques they employ so naturally in store can actually be replicated on their website?So, having come from a retail background and now spending the majority of my time reviewing merchants sites, here are the top three offline sales techniques that I have seen have an impact on boosting online sales.


1. Scarcity

“If something becomes scarce, we anticipate possible regret that we did not acquire it, and so we desire it more.” – The Scarcity Principle

Imagine going to a favorite shop of yours and spotting that perfect jumper that you instantly love. Only problem is, it’s a little pricey. Then you see that ‘Limited Edition’ label, and suddenly the piles of jumpers are looking a little thin. All of a sudden you can’t even find your size and instant panic sets in. Luckily your size is available but it’s the LAST one and the sales woman tells you there are no more left in stock, this is the very last one…ever. What do you do? Chances are you are going to go ahead and buy that jumper.

Scarcity principle has long been used in the commerce world to great success, but despite it’s effectiveness it is sometimes inconsistently used online. When implementing this technique there are two approaches you can take- scarcity of time, which implies that something is available for a set period only, or scarcity of product which highlights a limited stock. Both of these can be achieved with the simple addition of copy e.g. ‘Sale ends today’ or ‘While stocks last’.

But for a more pressing and consistent driver use a stock countdown. This will numerically illustrate when popular products are likely to sell out, making people more likely to buy. The travel and hotel industry do a great job of this – as can be seen on, where they display in real-time the number of people looking at the hotel and when it was last booked, implying that the limited amount of rooms will soon be diminishing even further.

Bonus tip: While scarcity can be driven by a time-limited special offer, it hurts your bottom line to offer discounts to everyone, especially those who would have bought anyway. Focus your efforts on those people that have demonstrated buying intentions only to change their mind at the the last moment. You can do this with the use of discount pop-ups, triggered by activity such as site or cart abandonment.


2. Social Proof

In any given situation we all look to others to help us decide how to act. It guides our behavior and helps us decide whether something is right or wrong. The more people are doing it the more correct it seems. Psychologists call social proof a “decision heuristic” – a shortcut for making decisions. So, quite simply if you want someone to do something, i.e. buy from you, show them that others are doing it. In store you may used signs such as “As seen in Cosmopolitan” – but what can do you do online?

The answer is simple – customer reviews. In the same way that shopping with friends or family can influence a customer’s offline purchase, so can the opinion of impartial internet users. In fact, a whopping 61% of consumers now read online reviews before making a purchase and, according to stats provided by Reevoo, providing reviews produces an average of 18% uplift in sales.

Amazon, of course, are heavy users of this sales technique, as can be seen in the image above. Not only do they show an average score but they also highlight the review that has been deemed to be most useful, as well as the one that is most recent. This gives a customer insight into what they can expect and provides further assurance that they are making the right buying decision.

Bonus Tip: It’s not enough to just enable reviews – you need to make it easy for people to share their feedback and for others to read it. To do this, create a reviews section on every product page and keep its placement consistent.


3. Customer Service

One-to-one customer service experiences are one of the most important aspects of in-store selling. You employ engaging people and train them so that they are knowledgeable on the products you sell and able to help guide hesitant shoppers through the sales journey. And it works. Why? Because, while nobody likes a pushy sales person in their face, they do want access to an expert should they need it. In fact, RightNow Technologies Customer Experience Report found that 86% of U.S. adults are willing to pay more for a better customer experience and 73% of U.S. adults said friendly customer service made them fall in love with a brand. So why leave your online customers online no-one to turn to? To some extent the type of guidance an in-store assistant provides can, and should be, automated. For example, the use of personalization software to recommend alternative or relevant products. But when customers need more than a second opinion, make sure they are able to get it- either through a live chat service or 24 hour support, depending on the nature of your business.

Paul Evans, a Nosto customer, does this well – wherever they are on the site there is a small and unobtrusive presence which allows shoppers to know that if they need anything they are there.

Bonus Tip: If you offer these options make sure you are replying to queries in a timely manner. Much like being ignored by a sales clerk in-store, a poor reply rate can do you brand damage.

So, there you go – 
my experience on why and how you should bring the old-school sales techniques of yester-year into the 21st century and on to your online stores. I’d also love to hear what lessons have you taken from the real world that translate to the digital one?”
For holiday specific tips, be sure to read our whitepaper…

Watch a 4 minute demo
Let us demonstrate why over 2,600 leading retailers worldwide have chosen Nosto’s AI-based personalization platform.