The retail double funnel


I’ve been working with a lot of retail shop owners lately, and have been thinking about how their sales process isn’t just one step, but several.

When a direct marketer sends a letter to a prospect, the goal of the direct mail package isn’t necessarily to sell the product. It’s really far more complicated than that. The goal of the envelope is for the prospect to, well, open the envelope. The goal of the enclosures is to ensure that they’re read.

The goal of the copy is to drive a call to action, likely a phone call or a Web site visit. Then, maybe, the marketer will ask for the sale. But every step is really about getting the prospect to the next step.

Retail is really no different. The purchase experience can be broken down into distinct, individual steps, with the initial purchase in the middle, not necessarily at the end. Consider a set of steps that look like this:

Prospect walks by the storefront
Prospect pauses or breaks stride in front of the store
Prospect stops entirely, and looks in
Prospect walks in the front door
Prospect walks into the store
Prospect picks something up
Prospect (finally) buys something

This may be the narrow part of the funnel, but it’s really only the beginning. Consider these next steps:

Customer buys more than one thing
Customer walks out the door (and walks around with your products and/or bag in hand)
Customer comes back again
Customer tells a friend
Customer brings a friend with them next time

That’s 13 distinct steps, some of which could probably be broken down further.

The point isn’t to complicate the sales process, but to demonstrate that initial sales are earned a step at a time, and that the path to exponential sales merely start at that first sale.

The dynamics and opportunities inherent in retail sales, for the owner and/or marketer that thinks about it right, are enormous.