Meet Alana Turner, the co-owner of Poopsie’s, a quirky gift shop in Galena, IL. When Alana and her co-owner took over the business in 2010, they had about 5 employees.

But Poopsie’s has grown tremendously since then. Not only have they more than doubled their annual sales, but they also have an average of 15-20 employees.

In this article, we explore how Alana and her team achieved their impressive results. Specifically, you’ll learn:

  • How investing in staff training helps their store be more successful
  • The task delegation technique they use to improve staff productivity
  • Alana’s top tips for creating shoppable displays that drive sales

Let’s get started!

Investing in additional — and better-trained — employees

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Any retailer that wants to stay competitive needs to invest in their staff. Remember, your employees are the people who are doing the selling, so if you’re looking to increase sales, start by investing in them.

Alana and the Poopsie’s team understand this, and according to her, the investments they’ve made in their workforce have significantly contributed to their success.

“Our success is for sure partly because of our well-trained staff,” she shares. “We invest a great amount of time in training our staff to be the best personal shoppers (known as ‘Poopettes’) they can be. They are one of the main reasons customers travel hours to revisit us time and time again.”

Alana says that they use “multiple layers of training” for their staff, even before their first official day. The training is also continuous, so employees are always going through some form of coaching, no matter how long they’ve been part of the company.

As for how the training is implemented, Alana tells us that each Poopette is trained by management or a subject matter expert. Their education begins with written information on Poopsie’s policies and procedures, then they move on to educational videos on selling. From there, Poopettes go through hands-on training on the sales floor, where they shadow a manager or a top-selling Poopette for a day or two.

According to Alana, they also layer on new videos and additional written information about their products and services. Managers are trained on new and hot products every day and all year round.

The task-delegation technique that improved employee efficiency

Continuing on the topic of staffing, Alana says they were able to boost the productivity of their staff by having them specialize in particular tasks.

We “decided to move away from everyone being trained to do all tasks and move towards having certain staff trained to specialize in areas,” says Alana. “For example, instead of all staff helping with receiving every day in between customers, we now have one person that does 80% of our receiving for us.”

She continues, “This has helped cut down on errors and inefficiencies in receiving, which as we all know equals lost profits, and it has allowed the sales staff to focus more on selling to customers.”

“Some other areas we have hired specifically for are: cleaning, restocking, and displays, as they were all areas consuming a lot of our sales staff’s time. We still have these Poopettes trained to sell so they can service customers if needed, but when they are in the building their main focus is their task and the sales staff covers 90% of the customers.”

Why did they decide to do it? According to Alana, they started to catch employees doing other tasks when they should have been serving the customers near them.

“It’s not that they weren’t working hard; they just weren’t focused on the customer enough for us. So we started delegating certain tasks specifically to staff to tackle and it just took off from there,” she shares.

“We still, of course, keep all staff busy between times of customers, but we are more mindful about how involved the tasks we give out are. And all the big ones are assigned to staff who are not in charge of selling that day.”

How to buy and showcase merchandise

Alana also attributed their growth to the way that they’re using their space.“Our constant focus is on how we can utilize every usable square foot of our space to best fit the needs of our customers,” she says.

Doing that involves:

Buying products their customers can fall in love with

“We put a lot of energy and effort into providing above and beyond customer service to our customers, providing unique products and services that they won’t find at Target and other familiar stores, and also in presenting our products in ways that make customers think about the items differently. 

She continues, “a lot of the buying really does just come from within or the gut as they say. I’m just blessed that I’m fairly good at it. Though I do have to spend a lot of time looking through catalogs, emails, buying shows and etc to continue to find new, trendy and exciting products for our customers.”

Presenting those products in clean and shoppable displays

According to Alana, having “fresh, new, and clean” displays are critical. “Another important tip with displays is that the best selling zone is from the waist to the forehead, so you always want to be thinking through how you are utilizing that space in each and every display. Otherwise, you are letting dollars walk out the door!”

Alana says that displays that “are more boutique in style” work best for Poopsies. She says that in most cases, their sales tend to slow when they starting “massing out” their merchandise or packing items into tight displays.

The Poopsie’s team also knows which areas turn dollars the quickest, and they see to it that those displays are always in top condition.

The final piece of advice

When asked about any words of wisdom she’d like to impart, Alana focused on having the courage to try new things and take a little risk. “With all of the technology and instant communication surrounding us today, things change faster than they ever did before. So if you can’t try new things and be willing to change and change often, you will have a hard time thriving in the current retail landscape. You can probably survive but you won’t thrive.”

Francesca Nicasio Vend