Corner shop concerns – how to combat the lottery crackdown

In the latest government crackdown on gambling, it has emerged that only those aged over 18 (rising from 16) will be able to purchase UK National Lottery tickets and scratch cards from October 2021. As reported by the BBC, this move comes as the powers that be pledged to undertake a “major and wide-ranging review” of the over-the-counter gambling industry.

This is likely to be unwelcome news for scores of corner shop and petrol station operators. Their businesses are already subject to wide ranging restrictions concerning the sale of sensitive items, and the casual gambling market is a significant contributor to their bottom line. With the government’s new announcement heralding further regulations, it’s not the specific lottery age limit that is of particularly concern, but rather the expectation that it will merely pave the way for more far-reaching reforms that could decimate countertop sales figures.

With tobacco, scratch cards, and even alcohol coming under increasingly strict scrutiny, businesses might be looking for new ways to monetise their point-of-sale area. Here are some of the most effective tips for upselling at the checkout.

Avoid the scattergun approach

Upselling products at the till can really drive profits for retailers that get it right but going about this in the wrong way will do little more than irritate customers.

One of the most ineffective till sales strategies is to try to sell the same items to everyone who comes to the checkout. Virtually nobody wants to buy a bottom shelf discounted bar of chocolate or a random magazine, and retail staff resent having to offer these irrelevant items as much as customers dislike the intrusion. A better tactic is to empower retail staff to make genuinely relevant add-on product suggestions that mesh with the customer’s existing basket.

It’s worth remembering that scratch cards, lottery tickets, tobacco products and other such items virtually sell themselves – but the same is not true of the items you may be trying to push. Rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all strategy, consider whether a more flexible approach might make your upselling attempts more effective.

Educate your staff

If you’re to implement a more intuitive till point sales initiative, you’ll need to make sure that your staff have a comprehensive knowledge of the products that you’re trying to sell. This means not only understanding the individual items that are kept on point-of-sale display stands, but also how they fit into a customer’s broader shopping line up.

This is where a little flexibility and freedom can really help the process along, since enthusiastic staff should be permitted to make their own bespoke suggestions that reflect the purchases a client is already set to make. Somebody purchasing new shoes, for instance, might need a shoe care kit or just a tin of polish. Similarly, somebody purchasing a lot of ingredients might welcome the suggestion of a new kitchen knife sharpener.

These are generic examples, of course, but you get greater transaction values in exchange for extra value for customers – allowing the knowledge and enthusiasm of your sales staff to lead the way.

Slick payment solutions

Regardless of whether you have the best products or the most persuasive staff, a slow-moving roster of payment solutions could lead customers to avoid your shop in the future. This is especially true if you want to upsell at the till, since consumers will not be impressed if you take up time offering them added extras before moving onto a dreary card machine that struggles to connect.

Not only does an outdated card reader look unprofessional, but it could also harm your upselling chances. Instead, businesses could benefit from one of UTP’s slick and speedy contactless card machines, or even a portable card reader that can take payments from anywhere on your premises. You’ll be able to provide bespoke service throughout the store, expanding your upselling opportunities to your entire inventory of products.

Shout it from the rooftops

Whilst it is not necessary to take out a billboard or go to print with an over-the-counter sales offer, you do need to let your customers know about the products on offer if you’re to have any hope of them buying them.

Consumers will not spend long at the till area of your shop, so you need to make every piece of signage count if you’re to attract their attention. Make it obvious what is on offer, use clear and attractive imagery, and illustrate exactly why the product is relevant to them.

Injecting a little novelty and humour into signage never did any harm and could in fact lead to greater engagement between your brand and its customers. It may be knowledgeable employees that close deals, but it is informative signage that opens them.

Keep changing your offers

This is an important one since customers that shop with your regularly are unlikely to take up the same repetitive offer of a discounted item. Instead, making regular changes to your till’s line-up of products could help you to boost sales whilst keeping customers engaged with your business.

For an even more effective approach, why not try curating a collection of seasonal items to encourage extra spending. Advent calendars in late December, sun cream and sunglasses in the height of summer, and umbrellas during the rainier months – it is all about tailoring your offering to the customers you want to attract.

A winning formula for checkout upselling

Ultimately, the secret to selling more at the counter boils down to a simple formula. This takes account of the factors we have already discussed and speaks to the needs of customers as much as it does to the operational considerations of businesses.

Whenever you make a decision about point-of-sale upselling, ask yourself these four key questions to determine whether you’re heading for bumper sales or a dismal trip back to the storage room:

  1. Does the product benefit the customer?
  2. Is the product relevant to the customer?
  3. Do your staff have enough knowledge to communicate the offer effectively?
  4. Are you equipped to make the sale quickly and efficiently?

If you can answer yes to all these questions, chances are that you have real margin maker on your hands.

This formula is likely to become increasingly important as the UK Government looks to further regulate traditional behind the counter items, and so business owners will need to keep their finger on the pulse of consumer habits.

All in all, special buys are a great way to back up your bottom line, but it is all too easy to get it wrong. Make sure that your business takes a considered approach to upselling, and with any luck you won’t even feel the financial impact of the new restrictions.