Engagement is essential

Attentive staff can boost sales

Retailer advising customer on Blu
Tom Gully said staff should look out for shy shoppers who may need assistance.

THE personal touch is often what sets a Scottish convenience store apart from its supermarket competition.

Engaging with customers can make a major difference across categories, but particularly when it comes to the sometimes confusing world of vaping.

Tom Gully, customer marketing manager UK at Imperial Tobacco, said that one of the key skills to selling vape products is recognising when a customer may be looking for advice, but reluctant to ask.

“Being able to spot the signs of shoppers that may be too shy or feel uncomfortable asking for help is really important.

“It might be that they simply glance at the vape display or POS on offer, or perhaps ask for a brand that you don’t stock and are about to walk away.

“Encouraging staff to proactively engage with these shoppers at the till point in a friendly manner and offering to take the time to explain some of the different types of vape products or help them find the right alternative product for them, will really help put them at ease.

“This is particularly crucial for e-liquids, given the myriads of different brands, strengths and solutions available,” he said.

For this reason, it’s essential that staff have a decent level of vaping product knowledge, particularly when it comes to best-selling lines.

Tailoring advice to the customer is also advantageous, and Gully suggested retailers encourage their staff to make an assessment of the customer’s level of vaping category knowledge and respond accordingly.

“Understanding whether a customer is brand new to the category, or an experienced vaper, will also help staff to gauge what level of advice they may need, i.e. going back to basics, or perhaps focusing more on the latest vape innovations that have recently launched.

“To help ascertain the best advice to offer, it’s important to ask about their previous experiences: Are they a heavy or a light smoker? Do they have any flavour preferences? Have they tried certain devices before? If so, how did they find them?

“Based on their answers, staff can tailor their advice on devices, flavours and strengths that would be best suited to them.

“For example, if they’re a heavy smoker that’s completely new to the category, focusing on easy-to-use pod mod devices like Myblu and its Intense range of e-liquid pods, including nicsalts, would be a great starting point,” he said.

Gully added that there are “various ways” to train staff, but said that running product demonstrations using samples was particularly effective.

“Allowing staff to handle the products themselves and get to know the different components using demonstration models, or sample e-liquids, will really help them understand more about how they work, so they can pass this information on to customers,” he said.