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How to drive sales without damaging your business

Catherine Erdly is founder of Future Retail Consulting

Creating interesting and engaging promotions is an excellent way for retail businesses to connect with their customers and motivate them to buy.

However, over-promoting can be very damaging to your bottom line, so it’s important to approach promotions carefully. In this article I will be outlining why promotions are useful for retail businesses, the wide variety of promotions that you can consider using, as well as some best practice tips to make sure that your promotions build both your top line as well as boost your bottom line.

If you are thinking of running a promotion, the chances are that you are planning on doing so because you want to get more money in the till. However, promotions can be used for a whole range of specific purposes in your business that go above and beyond just sales growth. Other reasons to use promotions include:

1 Customer engagement and re-engagement

Quite simply, running a promotion gives you another reason to talk to your customers, to reach out to them and to engage with them.

You can also create promotions that target lapsed customers. If you have an effective method in place for collecting customers’ email addresses, you should be able to identify people who have previously bought from you but haven’t in a while.

Planning a couple of promotions a year that only target your lapsed customers will help you keep more of your customer base engaged.

2 Reward loyalty

How about a discount just for your VIP customers? Identifying the people who are key customers and offering something just for them is a great way to make them feel valued.

These customers will most likely make up a large percentage of your sales, so it’s important that you keep them close and thank them properly. They are also likely to be your biggest fans – spreading the word to others about your amazing business. Making them happy and encouraging them to tell others will most likely be the cheapest and most effective form of marketing that you can do!

You can also consider a loyalty card scheme, offering points with purchases that can be redeemed for a discount after a certain spend. These can be very effective in persuading your customer to shop more regularly.

3 Clear slow sellers

Clearing slow-selling stock as you go is an absolutely crucial part of building a profitable business. You should be regularly reviewing your slow or “dusty” stock and making plans to clear through it using either targeted promotions or clearance sales.

Removing slow stock, even if it is at very little or no profit, is vital to allow a flow of fresh products into your business.

4 Persuade your customers to try something new

Do you want to expand your product range, move in a new direction or just get your customers to buy a wider variety of products from you? Then a promotion that encourages them to buy or try something new is the perfect way to achieve this.

5 Collaborate with other businesses

Running a joint promotion with another business will increase your reach and give you the opportunity to develop your business relationships.

There are many forms that this could take, from asking your suppliers to support you with free products for a giveaway, or partnering with other local businesses to offer a shopping and pamper experience in your shopping district.These cross-business promotions will allow you to reach other audiences cheaply and effectively and are a great way to foster community spirit.

6 Attract new customers

Can you run a promotion specifically for new customers? Perhaps an introductory discount if they mention it’s the first time they’ve shopped with you?

You may also find that if you run a clearance sale, you will attract a sale-shopper customer who might not otherwise venture into your store. Make sure you are capturing these customers – some of them will only ever appear when there’s a sale on, but others can be converted into regular customers if you engage with them and find out more about what brings them in.


There are only three ways to grow your business – getting more customers, encouraging each customer to spend more each time they shop, and getting existing customers to buy more frequently.

With that in mind, you should be trialling and using different types of promotions to see if you can grow your sales in all three of these ways.

Effectively planning your promotions, measuring their success and using big discounts sparingly will all help to grow your topline sales while protecting your profits.

Catherine Erdly, founder of Future Retail, is available to health stores as a consultant in creating greater success for modern retailers. Email [email protected] or visit

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