But it is not all doom and gloom. There are things you can do to prepare your business for a slowdown in sales during tough economic times.
Smartbag, a wholesale paper bag supplier based in Sydney’s suburb of Ingleburn, is a little like the canary in the coal mine. When paper bag sales slow, it is a good indication that retailers and shop owners are moving less stock. While paper bag and packaging sales are still strong, there has been a lag in purchases from within certain sectors.
You may have noticed a slowdown in your own business. When the cost of living rises consumers look for ways to save money which means, depending on your industry or sector, you may see a decline in sales. Data from a survey by Trustpilot revealed that approximately 66 percent of Australians are more cost-conscious on what they are spending their money on this year compared to the previous 12 months.
However, there are several strategies that businesses can use to encourage more sales during times like these. Here are a few strategies to help you increase sales:
1. Increase your marketing efforts in an affordable manner: It is more important than ever to stay top of mind with your customers. Consider increasing your marketing efforts through email marketing, social media, or targeted advertising campaigns. One of the most economical ways to do this is to print your brand on your paper bags, mailing boxes, and packaging. Smartbag offers a cost-effective fast print service which can ensure each customer leaving your store is a walking advertisement for your business. Customising your white or brown paper bags, reusable shopping bags or takeaway food delivery bags with your full-colour logo and business name or design is a smart way to spend your precious marketing dollars.
2. Offer discounts and promotions: During a downturn, consumers are more price-sensitive, so offering discounts and promotions can be an effective way to attract them to your business. Consider discounting excess or seasonal stock to attract customers through your doors or website checkout. Keep an eye out for Smartbag sales and discounts where you can save on your paper bag and packaging purchases. Even when Smartbag does not have a current sale running, you can still save 10 percent on your purchases just by registering at the checkout and adding coupon code 10TODAY each time you visit. PS: At the time of printing this blog, Smartbag is running its biggest ever sale offering 30 percent discounts on selected plain and printed paper bags.
3. Emphasize the value of your products or services: Instead of focusing solely on price, emphasise the value that your products or services you provide. This can include highlighting their durability, functionality, or long-term cost savings. It is a clever idea to target customers leading up to traditional gift-giving events such as Christmas and Easter, and even the one-day events such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Valentines Day. These are good opportunities to offer appropriate products and items, packaged together into gift boxes with tissue paper.
4. Expand your product or service offerings: Consider offering new products or services that cater to the needs of consumers during high inflation. For example, if you run a restaurant, you might consider offering more affordable menu items, take away options, or cook at home kits. Consumers may be cutting back on buying a luxury brand handbag, an expensive pair of designer jeans, or a bulky furniture item, but an affordable scarf, throw rug, or trendy lamp may be a pleasant pick me up that they can afford.
5. Improve your customer service: Providing excellent customer service can be a powerful way to differentiate your business from competitors and attract more customers. Positive experiences can lead to repeat business and valuable word-of-mouth referrals which is especially important during an economic downturn. Coach your employees to go above and beyond to provide exceptional customer service and be responsive to customer feedback to continuously improve their experience.
6. Leverage the power of online sales: In a downturn, more consumers may be looking to shop online to save money or avoid wandering around bricks and mortar stores which may induce them to make impulse buys. Ensure that your business has a strong online presence, including a user-friendly functional website as well as exciting and enticing social media channels to attract potential customers. Posting regularly on Instagram or Facebook or TikTok will keep your brand name top of mind for followers.
7. Offer financing options: Consumers may be hesitant to make larger purchases during this time, even if they need them. Consider offering financing options such as payment plans or buy now pay later options such as Afterpay. Even the old-fashioned lay-by is making a comeback as consumers look for ways to spread their spend over a set period to makes ends meet.
8. Ask for testimonials, reviews, and referrals: Word-of-mouth recommendations speak volumes in the current sales environment. Consumers are, more and more, searching for reviews on products before they make a purchase, especially big-ticket items like whitegoods and furniture, and holidays and accommodation options. And don’t expect your customers to provide reviews on their own. You will get a feel for customers who have enjoyed the shopping experience with you so simply ask them to leave a review on Google or your website. You can even set up a feedback or referral system on your website to encourage customers to spread the word about your business.
Overall, the key to encouraging more sales during an economic downturn is to be flexible, responsive to consumer needs, and proactive in your efforts to attract new customers.
Take heart in knowing that the economy moves in cycles – even though we are going through tough times now, we will come out of this period. What you need to do now, though, is prepare your business to ride the wave until consumer confidence turns around.