The holidays are just around the corner, but you still have time to plan and deliver an amazing marketing and sales strategy for the busy season ahead. Small town shops CAN compete with big box and online stores! That power comes from greeting your clients personally, giving them a positive, memorable shopping experience and helping them find other stores in the neighborhood that share your “hometown experience” philosophy.
Revisit the principles of retailing and remember why you have chosen to share your products in the public marketplace. Present your retail space in the best possible light by appropriate merchandising. Merchandising is an art that communicates the image, lifestyle or value system for your products. Examine your store from the perspective of a customer. Is the window inviting? Is the glass sparkling clean? Is the interior of your store clean and organized? Are decorations tasteful and music appropriate? Is lighting pleasant and targeted, especially as the wintery days get shorter? Lighting is the key to creating drama and proper lighting has been shown to increase sales by 25%!
Ensure that your employees are prepared for the busy days of greeting customers, offering assistance in providing the kindest, most helpful, and most professional service to enhance your brand and reputation long after the holidays. A couple of tips… When engaging customers, greet them in the front third of the store. Make eye contact and smile…offer to answer questions and then allow the customer to browse. Whenever possible, it is best for sales people to face the entrance, allowing them to acknowledge new shoppers, even if they are engaged with another customer at the moment. If you are offering sales or specials, make sure your employees are aware of the specifics. Also be clear and consistent on return, refund and warranty policies.
Now is the time to develop relationships with other stores in your shopping neighborhood that offer products that complement your merchandise. For example, if your store sells evening gowns, mention that the store across the street carries tuxedos and the shoe store next door may have the perfect pair of dressy heels to complete the ensemble. Customers appreciate recommendations that validate their purchases… and appropriate recommendations will help them save time, money and resources. The business relationships that are forged can be the best line of defense as you promote the value of shopping locally. Each business will be looking out for their neighbor, differentiating your neighborhood as a positive shopping experience for their customers.
Finally, engage your customers with a carefully designed follow-up campaign after the holidays. Holiday sales present an opportunity to gather email addresses and collect a fan base that will allow you to inspire your customers to remain connected with their community and local retailers all year long.
Wishing you and your retail store a wonderful holiday season!