HAVING experienced many recessions before, one thing I am certain of is that people will still be shopping; they are only going to be more selective in what they buy.

As a retailer, you need to rethink your product lines and merchandise categories that create "reasons" for customers to shop.

If people bought only what they needed, there would be no such thing as retail therapy. People buy emotionally and justify logically.

When our emotions are high enough, we form logical conclusions that trigger us to buy. Learn how to implement emotional psychological triggers in your sales message to create enthusiasm and excitement in your prospects.

Royal treatment

Think about your best customers - those who are loyal, refer you to others, and always purchase the big-ticket items.

You can't afford to lose even one of them. What are you doing to generate more business with them? How often do you communicate effectively with them and at a higher level than other customers who don't buy as much or as often?

Discover new ways of selling to them and servicing them. The number one reason why customers don't return to a store where they had a good experience is because they were noteminded to return!

Be objective

Re-look your business with your customer's eyes. Very often, you are too close to your own business and miss the most obvious things that your customers notice.

What kind of benefits do you offer? Are your sales messages connecting with your customers on an emotional level?

Get your customers to support, refer, and stay loyal to you and your business. Once you get them into a habit of doing recurring business with you, chances are that you have them for life.

Be consistent

Customers have too many choices of similar quality and price, so consumers often will base their buying choices on trust.

Trust comes from the promise that you will deliver the same important benefits the same way, consistently, time after time; and that you will deliver high perceived value to your targeted audience every single time they buy from you.

Create demand

Retailers should understand their points of differentiation with their products, their quality and their services.

The entire shopping experience has to work - from the features and benefits of your products to the experience and emotional satisfaction customers get each time they shop in your store.

Create a demand by creating curiosity, interest and excitement with products that are different and exceptional.

Audit your store

Start by making a list of the different areas of your business - the exterior signage, exterior entry, interior entry, counter or reception area, traffic flow, layout, fixtures and displays, merchandise presentation, quantities, sizes - every area that impacts the overall character of your business.

This will allow you to rethink your retail business in terms of how you want your customers to view you and give you an edge over your competitors.

It gives you the head start you need to identify problems that need to be addressed. It helps you focus on your customers and their needs.

Stock what sells

This has to be your biggest test of all - having merchandise that surprises, surpasses and exceeds your customers' expectations!

Start with your best-selling merchandise; look at the quality, packaging, price, colours and sizes available. Ask yourself how you can make this item look and feel like a million dollars. Are you missing out on sales because your size ratio is too narrow or would you sell more of an item if it were sold in a deluxe box?

Work with your vendors on creating special features and special packaging. They are as eager as you are to create higher demand and more sales.

Get rid of old stocks that are tying down cash flow that could otherwise be used on new and more exciting merchandise.

Don't be afraid to talk to your customers and ask them what they would like to buy from you, and make sure that the next time they come to your store, they will find it.