by Gail Oliver, Marketing Consultant
One of my online clients, Cindy Potters, first opened her home accessories shop, Shed The Eclectic Home 6 years ago, in Maplewood, New Jersey. In the last couple of years, declining foot traffic caused sales at the storefront to drop off dramatically, while her online store, ShedTheEclecticHome.com, selling similar items, has flourished. When she decided to close the brick and mortar store, she found that a lot of her old customers suddenly came back to her shop.
This is fairly typical behavior of shoppers. You may love a store, but time constraints or a lack of something pulling you in, puts off visiting even your most favorite shops. So what are some creative ways to get customers to keep coming back more frequently to your retail store?
1. Always Have Changing Inventory
I know this is a challenge, but your regulars may not be coming back in your store because they assume it is just the same old, same old. So make it known that on the 1st of every month there are new items in the shop (through social media and putting signage in the windows and on the sidewalk), even dedicating an area of the store to “New In Shop” (a trick online shops do).
2. Consistent Deals
Everyone loves hunting for a bargain. That is why stores such as TJ Maxx have thrived. So try to have an ongoing bargain hunter section in your shop (maybe a back room) with discount priced or discontinued items.
3. Take Advantage of the Seasons & Holidays
People are definitely more likely to buy at certain times of the year, such as for fall decorating, clothes for a summer vacation, items for back to school, and these events are more time-sensitive, meaning customers may not want to take a chance on online purchases arriving in time. So make sure your shop capitalizes on these occasions in terms of product offerings and sales promotions.
4. Support Local Designers or Artisans
If once a month you profile a different local designer in your store in the form of a pop-up shop that they host (you get a percentage of sales), you now bring their customers to your shop (not to mention their friends and family).
5. Hold In-Store Events
The nice thing about in-person shopping is that it is more of an experience. Bring customers in by offering one-day demonstrations, special guests, exclusive services, or a limited collection. Get creative such an in-store Easter egg hunt for the kids or a live in-store streaming of New York fashion shows, whatever suits your business.
6. Email & Social Media Alerts
Email is still effective if used properly. Simply ask customers if they wish to get your monthly email alert showcasing new items in the shop, in-store events and one-day sales. Alternatively, ask them to follow your Facebook page where you will post new items in the shop on the first of every month. Offer them a 15% coupon if they share the post with their followers. Put all of this information on a business card to give them, as well as put the information on the tags of the products you sell, on the final printed invoice and even on your store bags.
Time will tell if shopping habits change again, but for now, brick and mortar stores still have hope as long as they get a little more creative. Be sure to share this post … Gail.
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