Don’t let the headlines fool you…physical retail is still going strong. An estimated 91 percent of all retail sales last year took place in a brick and mortar store and young (and older) customers are still flocking to their favorite shops in droves. However, the one big difference between in-store sales today compared to in-store sales 10+ years ago is that these days foot traffic won’t just happen by default. Customers need a reason to leave their homes and do their shopping in a physical store – and as a retailer in 2018, it’s your job to come up with new, exciting events to attract customers to your brick and mortar time and time again.
In-store events are the first step towards creating repeat customer traffic. According to consumer anthropologists Kizer & Bender, you should have 1 major and 2 minor in-store events each month. These events create the opportunity to build a tangible relationship with your most loyal clients and they lend a personal touch to your omnichannel marketing initiatives. To help your store gain more traction and foot traffic, consider the below tips to start planning in-store events that your customers won’t want to miss.
Consider Your Goals & Target Customer
The first step in creating a successful event is to create an itinerary with your target customer in mind. However, many retailers forget this important component when creating their in-store events. To pull this off successfully, however, your event needs to be tied to your inventory and used to increase consumer interest in the products on your shelves. Apparel retailers can keep it topical by hosting a runway show with local models or bringing in a local stylist to help your customers discover their personal style. Philanthropically inclined retailers can partner with a local charity to give back while boosting revenue. Gift, toy and home décor stores can leverage their most popular brands and what’s trending in the local marketplace to create an event designed around these buzz-worthy conversations. What matters most here is simple, really. Your event should drum up interest in your products while also delivering on an experience your customers want to attend. To help identify what this means for your unique audience, collect feedback from your regular customers and scope out what your competition (near and far) may be doing to help create a roadmap for your next event.
Offer Educational Opportunities
Make no mistake, education is a currency these days…and customers love the opportunity to become experts on the products they love. By hosting classes or seminars where customers can deepen their knowledge on a niche topic that relates to your industry, you can increase store traffic and ensure you’re at the forefront of your customers’ minds when they think about making a purchase in your particular category. Paying an expert to come in and teach a class, for example, is a minor expense compared to the foot traffic and social media traction that you’ll get from hosting this type of event. In-store education is one of the areas where small retailers in particular can really stand out from their big box competition by providing a unique educational brand experience that impacts customers on a 1 to 1 level. So, start talking to your customers about what topics pique their interest and find the right teacher to help solidify your company as a leader in your field! It’s possible you may even be the right instructor to lend insight to your unique customers.
Follow Up with Attendees
A large component of hosting a successful event is promoting it on social media… both before you host an event in order to drum up attendance and afterwards to both highlight its success and promote future endeavors. Simple yet effective ways to do this include circulating event photos on social media, tagging all of your customers or other local businesses who were in attendance in each photo you share, and encouraging customers to repost the photos on their respective pages for the chance to win a prize such as a goodie bag or percent off their next purchase. When potential customers see those photos of people laughing and having a great time in your store, they will be more likely to inquire about how they can take part in the festivities next time. The main takeaway here? Get the word out about your event – both pre and post experience – so that future event attendance will continue to grow with each “like” or “share” on social media.
Finally, CNBC reports that retail sales are expected to grow as much as 4.4 percent in 2018. If you want your company to benefit from this forecasted sales growth, now is the time to start planning for innovative events and in-store experiences to keep increasing the excitement surrounding your brand.
Take advantage of ASD Market Week’s 90+ free retail strategy sessions this July 29-August 2, 2018 in Las Vegas.
By Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, RetailMinded.com