How did you go about up-selling The New Day, the first standalone paid-for national daily launch in 30 years?

Aimed at luring readers from tablet to tabloid, The New Day needs to persuade people to pay for the privilege of reading it rather than the Metro, which they can get for free. In its analysis of the retail market the publisher, Trinity Mirror, determined that independent news and convenience stores were more likely to be its allies in winning such sales.

Is this because local shops are the ‘least worst’ alternative to the highly expensive and complicated promotional platforms offered by the grocery multiples at a time when they are leaking footfall? Or put it another way: just how good are you at selling items to people who visit your store?

This is a fair challenge. One of the strengths of news and convenience stores is that most people who enter the shop buy something. That is because they mostly enter on a mission to pick up one of these, or two of those, or even a basket for the evening meal. It may also be your weakness.

Mark Robb, a leading retail advisor, provides an insight into what may be missing. He did some work with Clarks, the footwear shop, as it worked on how to increase sales. Just 14% of the people who visited its stores bought something. However, analysis showed that more than 80% of people who sat down and tried on three pairs of shoes bought something.

The mission of everyone who works in Clarks therefore is to get shoppers to sit down and try on three pairs of shoes, he explained.

This struck a chord with my recent experience. Blessed with a 12-year-old son who insists on kicking the toes out of his school shoes by playing football every break time, we were back to the shoe shops in half term. In Clarks, unlike some of the others we visited, the assistant measured his feet and returned from the stock room with three boxes of shoes for him to try on. We bought a pair.

Shoe shop
Clarks has trained its staff to make sure customers purchase a pair of shoes

At the time I was impressed by the service. My memory of shoe shopping is the assistant goes back and gets one pair and then reluctantly goes back to get another. All the time they disappear behind the scenes is time for cold feet, literally!

So Clarks’ assistants are obviously drilled to bring three pairs out with them to make it easy for the shopper to choose.

Which brings us back to what the mission is in your store. What is the difference between a shopper who buys one or two items and one who buys many more? How do you work to encourage this behaviour?

One of the simplest things to do is to always upsell at the till, asking people if they are interested in an item that you are promoting. This requires that you have an item with an interesting story and your team are briefed to tell the story well. Persuading the shopper to handle the item creates an even more powerful buy signal.

Good upselling is a mark of good, busy commuter coffee bars. You may never buy a pain au chocolat to go with your Americano but the warmth of the offer builds a positive impression.

What drives shoppers to spend more in your store? Is this understood and planned for? The New Day may have been just the sort of test that your business could rise to. If it was not, perhaps you need to be thinking of a New Day for your team too!