Retailers are missing out on additional sales by failing to upsell to customers, new research reveals.

According to a survey conducted by Skillsmart Retail, less than a third of independent retailers and their staff (29%) asked if there was anything else the customer needed.

The mystery shopping study of more than 800 independent retailers from across the UK also found retail staff were on the whole pleasant (99%), had good product knowledge (97%) and maintained eye contact when dealing with customers (95%).

However, head of the National Skills Academy for Retail Jane Rexworthy said shopworkers needed to move beyond just “polite and friendly service” to generate more sales. “It’s also about ensuring customers get the best products for them in the easiest possible way,” she said. “Upselling is an important part of customer service and retailers must engage with it to make the most of providing good service and see it pay dividends.”

She urged retailers to get to know more about their customers and become better placed to offer the right products to the right people.

“Successfully upselling and cross-selling is about understanding customers and treating each of them as an individual and not about having generic rules for all customers,” said Rexworthy. “For example, someone in a rush or with a screaming child is unlikely to have the time or inclination to respond positively to upselling.”

Rexworthy added that although it may be difficult to encourage staff to upsell, it can greatly benefit businesses. “Upselling and add-ons are issues that many retailers find challenging to implement. Despite this, if done well it can help build a relationship between customer and retailer.”