An advertisement for a tradeshow arrived in our e-mail box last week with a headline asking retailers: “Are you in business for the long run? … Then you must attend this trade show!”
Our first thought was: Are you kidding? Every retailer reading that e-mail is in business for the long run. These days, most of them are concerned about attracting shoppers to their stores - and they have good reason.
The National Retail Federation’s 2008 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey found that 40 percent of the 8,117 consumers surveyed said sales and promotions were the largest factor when determining where to shop.
Here’s the question: If 40 percent of consumers choose stores predicated on the sales and promotions the retailer offers, what do you have up your sleeve for your store this holiday?
First, review important 2008 holidays:
The day after Thanksgiving (Friday, November 28):
Black Friday -- the official kick-off to the holiday selling season.
The Saturday before Christmas (Saturday, December 20):
Said to be the biggest shopping day of the year.
Hanukkah (December 21 – December 29):
Begins at sundown on December 21.
Christmas Eve (Wednesday, December 24):
The last day to capture Christmas sales.
The day after Christmas (Friday, December 26):
The time to redeem gift cards and turn returns into sales.
Kwanzaa (December 26 – January 1):
A non-religious African American holiday celebrating family, community and culture.
If you’ve read our Craftrends columns or attended our promotional seminars over the years, then you know that we recommend you host at least one MAJOR EVENT that attracts large numbers of customers to your store and one or two MINOR EVENTS, such as demos, classes and crops, every month. Both kinds of events take time to plan and implement, and both are important to the growth of your store, especially during the holidays – they’re mandatory in November and December.
And by the way, a Black Friday in-store event is not an option. You might not have hordes of shoppers camping out in front of your store at 2 a.m., ala Wal-Mart, but you need to do something, such as a bag sale or a 50% off coupon, to keep your store on your customers’ radar.
Rest assured that consumers – your customers – are already being inundated with savings offers. Our mailbox and e-mail boxes are filled daily with all kinds of attempts by retailers to get us off the couch and into their stores. The offers are good and don’t always involve deep discounts. Sometimes they’re just plain fun, such as the Halloween Pet Costume Contest we attended in October.
Macy’s continues to offer percentage off purchases or free shipping; Ann Taylor Stores sends percentage off deals for limited periods of time, such as “Shop More, Save More” offers and “Buy One, Get One Half Off” deals; Lord & Taylor and Kohl’s entice us with “Family Shopping Saving Passes;” Kmart is pushing Lay-a-Way and has promised to offer Black Friday-like deals from November 2 through November 23.
The big chains aren’t the only ones out to lure shoppers to their stores. The Paperie Place in Liberty, Missouri, sends weekly blasts loaded with cool events like “A Kit and a Cup of Joe,” free Saturday evening crops, paperie retreats, trick or treating at the store, and an in-store garage sale where customers save 75 percent off clearance merchandise.
In October, Ben Franklin Crafts & Frames in Redmond, Washington, celebrated the grand re-opening of its newly expanded Bead Department with basic beading demos, free make-and-takes, prize drawings, and refreshments (You know what we say about that: FOOD IS GOOD!). November in-store events include candlescaping demonstrations; “It’s Tool Time!,” which gives customers hands-on experience with various crafting tools; and the store’s annual Holiday Open House, which includes one-day-only sale specials, decorating tips, demos, make-and-takes, prizes, refreshments, guest demonstrators, and more.
The point is this: You need to make some noise and employ tactics that help you stand out and stay in front of your customers. Beef up your e-mail blasts – send one once a week throughout the holidays. Ask your associates what they’d do if they owned the store, then use the ideas they share. Appoint one person the “Sultan of Sizzle” for each event and give him/her $100 to use any way they desire to beef up the event. If you host an event, but are less than thrilled with the results, keep trying until you find something that clicks with customers.
Get started today! Download a blank calendar and pencil in an event for every weekend from now until the end of this year’s holiday season. Strive to be the store those 40 percent of shoppers choose first.
This isn’t the time to play it safe and focus on getting the basics right. Don’t get us wrong: the basics are important, but in today’s economy, now is the time to make some noise. Visit our Retail Adventures in the REAL World™ blog each day for sales-building ideas (re-visit November and December posts from 2005 – 2007, too). If you’re still stuck for ideas, call us at 888.215.1839 – we’ll be happy to brainstorm ideas with you. Really.
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