How to increase retail sales by understanding your customers’ behaviour

When you run a gift shop or independent gallery, you become an amateur psychologist of sorts, adept at spotting the personality types that enter your shop. Understanding your customers is key if you want to know how to increase retail sales – now and in the future.

Medallion retail research analysed buyer behaviour and identified eight ‘buyer typologies’.

Discover what these buyer types are and how you can apply this knowledge in a gift shop and independent gallery – and in turn, sell more.

Caretakers – the make do and menders

Perhaps less likely to visit gift shops or independent galleries, caretakers are unlikely to be your ideal buyer type. Caretakers value maintaining and repairing what they already have, replacing only where there’s no other option.

Indulgent shoppers – big on spending and pleasure

Indulgent shoppers are all about how their purchases make them feel. They don’t mind sacrificing certain areas of their life to get what they want in others.

This is a great type to target if you want to know how to increase retail sales in a high-end independent gallery. One way of harnessing this group’s value is to ask for social media shares (if you don’t ask, you don’t get!). They will revel in showing off their purchases, which could help spread the word about your gift shop or independent gallery.

Be wary of this type if you have payment plans for expensive items – they are less likely to make payments as time goes on.

Mechanists – scrutinisers of fine print

Mechanists are constantly on the lookout for an advantage and playing the system in everything they buy to get it at great value. They may pick holes in your promotional offers, so make sure they’re watertight!

It could be tricky to reach this type of customer in a gift shop or independent gallery, but Medallion recommends giving them something to discover over and over again. Perhaps they’d be taken by the detail in fine art paintings, or idiosyncrasies in handmade items?

Advocates – evangelists if you meet their high demands

Advocates can become your best friends – but only if you meet their high demands. Like indulgent shoppers, they are enthusiastic about their purchases and could provide valuable word of mouth (aka the best marketing tool there is).

To win the hearts of advocates, consider returns policies – more difficult where you sell unique items, but doable. Perhaps a customer has fallen out of love with something they bought a couple of days ago. Not your fault, but by allowing exchanges or giving vouchers for a return, you could turn a sour feeling into smiles (even if it’s not your fault!).

Loyalty programmes are not just for coffee shops. Perhaps offer a 10% discount to customers for 10 separate purchases over £25? This could encourage them to treat themselves something more expensive that’s caught their eye.

Conventional – rule followers with appropriate aspirations

Conventional shoppers may not be in the market for an avant-garde painting, but you can cater for this typology with the placement of your crowd-pleasing items. If they are looking for gifts or cards, then prominent displays of bestselling items that have broad appeal could encourage a purchase.

Sophisticates – only the best, but willing to pay premium

These buyers are interested in one-of-a-kind luxury items such as art. But beware – they are also very demanding, and expect ultra-personalised treatment.

If you run an independent gallery, you will already know that knowledgeable salespeople are a must (60% of customers say it’s important). Consider the origins and back stories behind your items. Artists often provide detailed information about themselves and their works, so make sure you make full use of this. When sophisticates express an interest give them your full attention.

Gradualists – interested in the best immediate deal

Gradualists are a tricky typology to reach because they’re only interested in their immediate purchase and are immune to up-selling attempts. One way to approach them in a gift shop or independent gallery is through shopper events – perhaps a 10% discount day, or clearly displayed price promotions. Forget about trying to tempt them into a loyalty scheme.

Students – driven by data

Students like to study the information available before buying and are more likely to ponder than make a purchase. Like the sophisticate, having knowledgeable salespeople is key. Consider producing information sheets about certain products that they can look at in more detail in their own time.


Eight typologies – how do you reach them all?

Knowing and identifying these typologies is the first step in understanding how to increase retail sales. But that’s a lot of different typologies with very different behaviour – so how can you possibly reach them all? Our suggestion – don’t!

Your ideal buyers will vary depending on what you sell, and if you’re trying to appeal to them all, you’ll end up appealing to none. Select two or three of the customer types and then use that knowledge to understand how to increase retail sales for that group. You will have noticed that there is some crossover in preferences and ways you can reach different groups.

It’s also worth pointing out that customers may behave differently depending on the product. They might be a student when it comes to electronics, but let go and act like and indulgent shopper in a gift shop.

Another piece of interesting research shows that tourists tend to adopt more risky buying behaviour than when at home. If you are in a tourist destination you will probably already be aware that tourists are willing to spend more for an unique reminder of their trip.

Over to you – do you recognise these buying types? Do you have any good tips on how to increase retail sales in independent galleries and gift shops?


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