Natalie Massenet has made a fortune from setting up and running the Net-a-Porter fashion website by combining her skills as a journalist with those of a retailer.

At the heart of her success was the insight that good editorial content alongside items of clothing would encourage sales. Much as in a real world shop, good staff knowledge and know-how helps to clinch a sale.

One of her new ideas is to allow visitors to her website to see real time updates on what other users are putting in their baskets. She got the idea by observing that visitors to her office always stand mesmerised in front of big screens that show sales as they are happening – “so I knew it would be exactly the same for users”.

This tells you two things. One, that people shop in herds and will buy what other people are buying. Two, listing top sellers helps sales. Which makes me think how can a local shop use lists of top sellers to encourage sampling and sales?

For example, could you monitor sales of new products (stocked for under two months) and weekly print out and display a list of top sellers so that shoppers could see what other people are buying? Or would a list of top selling link purchases help shoppers think about buying more when they are in store?

Letting shoppers know what other people are buying in your shop might help nudge sales upwards. Monitoring the trends should help you build up a better idea of what your shoppers will buy.