Using Product Sampling To Boost Sales

Got a great new product and want to show it off? Well, if your customers can resist free samples then they're stronger willed than the team at Gadsby! A quick count of hands shows that the majority would gravitate towards a smiley sales advisor clutching product samples during a shopping trip.

Customers respond well to this style of consultative selling technique, so we're going to outline the key advantages and the many ways your business can reap the rewards.

We'll highlight a few of the short and long-term successes of sampling and the practicalities of how to introduce it into your store. Don't worry if you're not in the food and drink sector, we've got plenty of tips for general retail (and even online) too...

Appeal to all the senses

Engaging customers through all five senses; sight, sound, touch, smell and taste is a great way of introducing a new brand or product, encouraging customers to engage with the brand and try a product for the first time.

Customers are much more likely to stop and try a product that is served to them than pick up a new product from a shelf.

You'll sometimes hear this successful sales method being referred to as sensory marketing; appealing to multiple senses. Everyone knows the feeling of walking down a high street and sensing the smell fresh bread from a nearby bakery.

Farm Shops and Delis are reaping the benefits of using the sensory attributes of products to increase awareness and sales. Tantalising the taste buds and sense of smell with mouth-watering food samples helps customers discover alternative product options and spend more time in-store.


Spend a little to gain a lot

Product sampling is by no means a new concept, however if you are a start-up or small independent business then you may have been discouraged by the upfront cost.

The initial outlay may seem hefty, but do it correctly and you'll continue to reap the benefits of product sampling for the long term. Sampling is an easy way to create positive customer interactions, so don't be afraid to invest as these clients are then more likely to become regular shoppers.

Even with a minimal budget, you're likely to see immediate and sustained sales from your sampling campaign not just for the specific item but for related products or across a brand. Invest in your staff by giving them all the information and resources they need to help convey the merits of a product effectively. Alternatively, invite the supplier in to your retail environment to present the products themselves!

Create visually appealing displays

Not to be underestimated, presentation is the key element of a successful product campaign. The right serving board or platter will enhance appearance and entice customers.

The platform for displaying your products should complement and let your products speak from themselves. Always stick to high quality materials that help enhance the brand that is on display.

Acacia has a beautiful rich vcombination of brown tones that evokes heritage, style and quality. It's becoming increasingly popular for food presentation due to its versatility depth of colour that suits a wide variety of on-trend settings.

Natural slate is a fantastic option for making your product pop. Slate provides a high contrast backdrop for your samples. It's a popular choice for restaurants as it brightens food, making colours appear more vibrant and appetising.

Once you're happy with the arrangement of your samples, the final step is to add product labels and any supporting marketing material. Providing key information such and ingredients, allergens and special features will provide customers with all the essential information and reinforce your sales pitch. If you fancy being creative with your signage check out our How-To chalkboard lettering guide!


Host an in-store customer event

Customer events are a fantastic way of launching brands and creating a buzz around products. They also create the allure of exclusivity, which customers love.

It's a great opportunity to deliver an experience that will leave a lasting impression on your customers. Your objective for the event should not be to push sales but should instead be focused on delivering a memorable experience for you loyal customers and their friends and family. A non-direct sales strategy done well can reinvigorate your brand and create happy customers who return again and again.

If your customers enjoy themselves then they are likely to tell others about their experience which will strengthen your brand awareness. Never forget the power of word of mouth!

As well as providing samples at your event, a well-rehearsed in-store demonstration is a great way of generating interest and instilling your confidence in the product. Invite local suppliers along to give expert advice and train your staff to enable them to give the best customer service.


Get customer feedback

There's no better way to receive customer feedback than when they are stood in your store. Not only does this allow you to obtain immediate feedback, it opens the opportunity to address concerns or obstacles to purchase while you can still influence the buying decisions.

Taking an interest in the opinions will make your customer feel valued and build long-term loyalty. It's all about building and enhancing your brand.

Product feedback is key, especially when trialling a new brand or product. Listening to what a customer says might lead to valuable product improvements or new product and service suggestions.

Don't forget your online customers!

Product sampling can be just as effective for online retailers.

Try asking your supplier if they can provide miniature samples of their products that you can include in mail orders. Everyone loves a free sample and including an unexpected gift in their delivery will leave a lasting impression with your customers and encourage them to order again.

A strategy that cosmetic companies often use to increase customer spend is to tie samples in with a promotion - spend a fixed amount to receive a free sample. You can also include a voucher along with the sample to keep the customer coming back to your online store.

10 Tops for effective product sampling

We hope that's given you a good idea of the advantages that sampling can have for both your brand and sales. Of course, we've got plenty of items that can help! Our team are always happy to help give advice on product usage so feel free to get in touch. For now, here are our top tips:

  1. Always have your friendly team on hand to engage customers.
  2. Position your sample stand close to the product, ideally where footfall is high.
  3. Let staff sample the product too so they can get behind the product and answer any questions, but not too many whiskey tasters!
  4. Involve local suppliers as they'll have unrivalled passion for their own product.
  5. Take your sampling out onto the street and pull in passers-by.
  6. Avoid over-rehearsed sales pitches, encourage natural conversation.
  7. Team free samples with voucher or coupons.
  8. The humble flyer is still an effective tool when paired with a product sample.
  9. Give customers the opportunity add themselves to your mailing/marketing list.
  10. Use social media to spread the word and encourage interaction on your pages.

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