How to increase sales in a retail store – A fine example from Hamleys Toy Shop

I recently went to London with my family and we visited the Hamleys Toy Store there. The whole experience got me thinking about how you can affect your sales in a retail store since Hamleys have done a great job at that.

Many store owners are struggeling with sales and profitabillity. Smaller shops are often owned and run by a family that has a passion for what they do but don’t know that much about retail or running a business at all.

The competition in retail is fearse and new competitors in form of webshops are constantly entering the market.

I hear store owners complaining about how impossible it is to increase the revenue and actually affect your sales if you don’t have millions to spend on marketing. When I went to Hamleys I saw that this is not true and it was a quite inspiring experience for me.

There are a few simple things you as a shop owner can do in order to increase your business that doesn’t include expensive marketing. There is still a good place in the market for retail stores but you need to work a bit more proactive with your sales in order to get a profitable business.


In my opinion there’s only one thing you need to master to create a growing and profitable business and that is your sales.

Hamleys Toy Shop in London has done just that and is a brilliant example of how to make the most of your store in terms of sales and proactivity. This is my run down of their recipe for proactive sales.


Basic variables in sales

Sales is in the essence a numbers game. There are only a few relevant variables that you need to focus on if you want to be successful within sales.

The three variables you need to monitor and work with are: Frequency, close ratio and average sales value.

This is how Hamleys work with them.



Frequency is the amount of times you meet a new customer. In B2B sales that would be the amount of meetings a sales person does per week or month. In retail it’s often the floor traffic per day, i.e. the amount of people that goes into your store. Now the easiest way to increase your floor traffic is of course by advertising but that can be very expensive and takes a lot of time before you get any kind of return on your investment. Hamleys have done a few things which are possible for any retail shop to copy.

Hamleys Toy Shop is located on Regent Street in London which is an AA location. That ensures that you will have a constant flow of people outside of your store. That doesn’t mean that you automatically will get a lot of visitors to your store but it incases the odds. Hamleys is a 7 story toy store which makes it one of the biggest toy stores in the world and the sheer size of the store attracts visitors from far away.

Now these two characteristics aren’t copyable for every shop owner however, Hamleys works proactively with their frequency in another way too.

There are always shop assistants dressed up as princesses, pirates or fictional characters standing outside of the shop engaging with people and children walking by. There sole objective is to get people into the store and they do that by promising an unforgettable experience once inside the shop. The shop assistants sometimes shows a new toy or just engage the children by a bit of story telling. It’s a bit like a circus show outside of the shop and the shop assistants do get both children and their parents engaged and into the store.

By just doing this Hamleys is proactively increasing their floor traffic massively.


Close ratio

The close ratio is measured as the ratio between customers entering the shop and customers buying. In an ideal world you would have a close ratio of 100% which means that 100% of people who enter the shop also buys something. If you don’t measure your close ratio today then start doing it.

Once inside the shop, directly inside the main entrance, there are shop assistants showing toys with a burning passion. There are stands basically everywhere on all floors where shop assistants engage with the visitors and shows them how fantastic their toys are. It’s the same principle as the American infomercials you see on TV. The circus show that you saw on the outside is thereby continuing on the inside but now in a much larger scale.

The feeling you get when you enter the shop is really “wow, this is a fun and magical place”. Just the right kind of feeling for a children’s toy shop, isn’t it?

The shop assistants are funny, engaging and are directly approaching the children, which are the decission makers when it comes to what toys they want to buy.

By doing this Hamleys is proactively increasing the possibility of making a sale to the customers in the store. If you stop and look at these shows you will see that only after a few seconds a majority of the children watching are beginning to ask, or nagg even, their parents about buying that particular toy. This activity ensures the highest possible close ratio every day, all the time for Hamleys.


Average sales value

The average sales value is basically what every purchase is worth on average. The easiest way of measuring this is to take the sales of the day divided by the amount of buying customers.

If you measure this you can easily calculate what an increase of either your frequency or close ratio would do for your business and you can start to calculate return on investment for different sales increasing activities. Return on investment and profitability calculation is key to every profitable business.

Hamleys are also working proactively with the average sales value in a number of different ways. They’re always trying to increase your spend and they do it for example by the classical bundle pricing: “buy a set of pencils and get 50% discount on drawing paper”. Many shops a working with these kind of blunt ways to increase your average spend but Hamleys also do subtle things to affect your spending.

On every floor there are boxes with shopping bags that are there to make the carrying of your toys easier. When you go up the escalators there are often shop assistants standing at the top of the escalator handing out these bags to those who comes up the escalators. The shop assistants are often pushing these bags on to the customers with frames like “trust me, you will need one” and a smile. Hamleys are doing this because they know that the probability of you buying one extra toy increases multiple times if you have something to carry all the toys in.

The combination of the shopping bags and the constant and ingenious bundle offers that you see everywhere actually makes you buy more than you planned to do and Hamleys have proactively increased the value of your spend.



If you are a shop owner I really suggest that you start measuring your frequency, close ratio and average sales value. When you do that you have a map of where you are. Once you have that map you can start to think about how you can affect the frequency, close ratio and average sales value in you business. Hamleys is just an example of what you can do and you need to find instore activities and maby outside activities to be able to increase your sales. If you start working with this I can guarantee that you will see positive effects in your sales with very little effort and money.


Oh, and if you are in London make sure you visit Hamleys Toy Shop on Regent Street!