Blow It Up! on Average Transactions

Blow It Up! on Average Transactions

by Sid Raisch

You might remember my session on Blowing it Up! At Fall Event 17 in Houston. That was all about taking something you’re doing and making a bigger big deal of it so you maximize the benefit from your opportunity. The principle of Blow It Up! is to make whatever is working work better.

New Normal – Declining Transactions with Increasing Average Transaction

A “New-Normal” of higher average transaction but declining transactions has emerged for many garden centers since The Great Recession. Chances are you’re one of the many who has become conditioned to this New-Normal and you need practical ways to reach a NEW and better New Normal. (If you’ve beaten the odds and attracted more customers who buy more, stay tuned, because you can also benefit from the suggestions that are coming your way in this article.)

Blow It Up! To Raise Your Invisible Ceiling on Growth

A component of the “Invisible Ceiling” on increasing sales is the built-in limitations on average transaction. The limitations are in two areas – price increases, and shopping cart size.

•    Increase prices wherever prices should be increased
•    Increase the volume of our highest GMROII categories as high as we can
•    Take the volume of our peak days even higher
•    Get more customers through in our peak season
•    Get our most frequent shoppers to shop even more often

More and BIGGER, BIG transactions

Let’s look at how your average transaction happens. The math is at work taking the total sales and dividing by the number of transactions. Digging deeper, we see that total sales is a combination of the amount of each sale. The average is increased by increasing the amount of each sale, which is important, but not as effective as increasing the amount and number of BIG transactions. This is already happening. If we pull up a report of transactions in declining dollar order, we quickly see that the top 20 transactions contribute significantly to getting your average transaction up where it is.

Two Carts

What would happen to our average transaction if we could get more customers with two carts at checkout? The potential is that those transactions could double if those customers filled their second cart. What would happen if there were twice as many of those big transactions?

Take a break and do this math so you’ll be motivated for action. If we could double the Top 5 transactions on our biggest day the average transaction would go from $_____ to $_____.

All else being the same, with a conservative 50% GM half of the increase would be pure profit. Take a look at your largest sales and reverse engineer to see what happened. While discussing this with one client they observed, “We probably had only 20-30 customers with more than one cart so far this year (early July). I had to prompt, “Let’s think about what those customers had to go through to get their carts to the register.” Letting that sink in, let’s think about this a little more.

Here’s the problem in this. Getting those customers to take a second cart –that’s not easy. It’s not easy mainly because we’re not so willing to try it. Now that we know how much additional profit is at stake, let’s figure out how we can accomplish this. To get a customer to take a second cart we’ll have to do something more than just having the cart sitting there for them to take, as if they actually could push two carts along.

We can take the second cart to them, saying, “Here’s your other cart! I’ll take care of this full one at the register for you.” Yes, you would expect many customers to object, saying things like,  “I’ve done enough damage with this one”, or “If I buy more my husband will kill me”, or “I don’t know if what I’ve got here will fit in my car”. But if we just do this and shut up even some of those customers will allow the switch. Some of the others will actually be happy we offered to help them in this way, and we’ll at least know that we tried. What would happen if, one in every 10, 20, or 30 customers took us up on our offer?

No Shopping Cart

That’s right, no shopping cart, for SOME customers. There’s a rule in retail that says, “People cannot buy what they can’t carry to the register”. Let’s make another (better) rule – “Customers CAN buy what they don’t carry to the register” - they can buy Online, or by Phone/Email/Text/Messenger for pickup or delivery. No cart required, needed, or desired! And if we don’t offer these methods we’ll never know who would have used them but instead bought elsewhere either what we sell or what we don’t. A rapidly growing number of customers are becoming accustomed to shopping without going to a store – your store, other stores, or any store. Shop by Phone/text/email, or Buy Online Pickup in Store are trending upward in spite of the fact that they can’t see, feel, or touch the item they are buying if they’re not in your store.

Designed Sale

A designer accompanied experience is one where the purchase is made and product selected by our associates and delivered to the customers car or to their home. Consumers don’t know which plants to buy, and they also don’t know how many they’ll need, because they’re not sure exactly how their project will look. A designers eye is needed to help them visualize this, so they can create it. Most consumers (and garden center sales associates) don’t know that there are design principles, much less what they are (function, scale, repetition, function, texture, color, contrast, and repetition (not everyone agrees on these) or how to use them to enhance their property. They often end up with a hodgepodge of plants that don’t look well together, and don’t make their property look more valuable. This is a valuable, value-added service inside and outside of their home.

Higher Priced Items – Super-Size It!

Isn’t it amazing after what we’ve been through with the phase of low-fat, low-calorie, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and all that every fast food chain now has even more high-fat loaded food? Bacon, bacon everywhere! To every trend there is a counter-trend. We can sell more bigger (size and price) items as many of us already do. People want more instant results and gratification, and they will buy bigger sized items to get it.

Let’s chart another New Normal - Increased Average Margin Dollars per Transaction.


Are you ready to talk with Sid? He can help you with
"Blow It Up! on Average Transactions."
Sid Raisch
Cell: 937.302.0423
Sid Raisch is a leading consultant for small business growth, change, and results throughout the US for over 40 years.  He is a consultant to The Garden Center Group and has helped transform both national and local businesses in horticulture into valuable assets with programs that create change in culture, community and company.
Redefining the business future of retail for consumer horticulture by understanding how the end-to-end supply chain needs to be redirected is a skill that Sid has honed into an art.  Participating in international and national educational sessions provides Sid venues where he has a front row seat to see the creation of innovative business models. Connect with him at [email protected].
REMEMBER: Your interaction (by phone and email) with Group Service Providers such as Robert Hendrickson, Steve Bailey, Sid Raisch, Jean Seawright, and John Kennedy are included in your retainer!
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