Katie talks about the Christmas just passed, figures on the decline, figures on the rise and how to make the most of the gift-giving season next year!
Christmas is typically a retailer’s heaven but as reports are suggesting the year just passed may not have been as lucrative their predecessors. Consumer behaviour has changed. Some may fondly recall dressing in their finest and heading to the city with the family for a day out shopping followed by lunch. Today, many work 50+ hours a week, have families, do volunteer work, play sport and the time spent with family and friends. Time for enjoying a weekly indulgence in retail therapy is decreasing.
Those retailers who are still operating as they were five years ago (or longer) will not survive unless they change with the times and meet their customers’ needs. Retailers who are innovating their brand by listening and responding to their customers needs are striving forward, not looking back, and the accountant is very happy. Here are some simple retail concepts which will help you improve your business.
Kevin Moore, CEO of Crossmark explains, “Shopping competes with going to the theatre, shopping competes with going to see the footy, going to the beach”.
And it is even more important than ever to nail ‘The Retail Trifecta’ if your business is to succeed.
THE RETAIL TRIFECTA
- Having a store format that is great to shop in;
- Hiring staff who are passionate and know the products;
- Creating point of sale and back office systems that allow you to talk to the customers about their needs and wants. (http://cosmos.bcst.yahoo.com/up/yaunzpop/popup/?rn=3113566&cl=24149903&src=y7finance&ch=)
One of my favourite brands, Shoes of Prey (creator Jodie Fox is from Lismore and will return this year for a Cake Marketing/The Stella Network event), has successfully done this, and more, but in an online environment. Here they have had to seek out new ways to give the consumer a complete experience without the luxury of putting the product in the customer’s hands until the final stages of the buying process.
According to Start Up Smart’s interview with Michael Fox, co-founder of Shoes of Prey, the business recorded its bestever sales week in early December 2011, contradicting the ARA’s projections about footwear.
“Sales are ramping up nicely for us. We launched 3D shoe design in November, so we’re actively innovating and improving what we’re doing with our products,” Fox said.
“The other key [strategy] for us is that in December last year, we did twice as many sales as November last year. We sold the same number of shoes but far more gift certificates.”
“The retail space is changing so rapidly and if bricks-and-mortar retailers aren’t offering their retailers anything different, it will be harder for them to keep going.” (Start Up Smart: Retailers reveal top Christmas sales strategies).
For small businesses being able to invest in new systems or technology can be hidden behind barriers such as cash flow but the principles discussed to meet customer needs by innovating your product offerings, enhancing service either in store or online and offering a complete experience time and time again can still be applied.
BE INSPIRED: Look to other businesses for inspiration; be it another company or a competitor. Even impressive concepts rolled out by larger corporations can be adapted for a smaller scale and work effectively to drive awareness and sales.
INFORMATION IS GOLD: If you haven’t already started to collect a solid customer database, don’t delay! You will find your existing customers come through the doors but also new prospective customers. Be sure to capture their information so you can stay in contact with them throughout the year, not just when there is a sale or during a designated retail period such as Christmas. The old adage that it is less costly to keep an existing customer then find a new one is true and having a sound database is a key step for all businesses to stay engaged with their target audience and when done properly have coming back for more.
GET CREATIVE: Now you have your database it’s time to get creative with how you can keep them coming back time and time again. There are the typical VIP nights with offerings such as 10% off storewide or free gift with purchase but look expand on these concepts and offer something unique such as a co-operative VIP night with multiple stores that sell complementary products. For example, if you are a fancy dress store partner with make up artists and decorating companies and give the crowd a night to remember, not to mention split the costs!
MAKE ME OVER: If you can’t afford to hire a visual merchandising expert, there are some simple yet effective ways to breathe new life into your store. Firstly look at it. When was the last time you walked out of your store and actually looked at it from all angles – from walking down the left of the street, the right, across the road, down the escalators, or driving past? When your prospective customers are walking past are they enticed, engaged and feel compelled to enter? Secondly, in store or using your database conduct a (anonymous) survey of your customers asking them for feedback about your store window, layout, merchandising and general ambience.
By implementing these simple retail marketing concepts throughout 2012 your coming Christmas will no doubt see an improvement. Best of luck and more valuable tips to come for the quieter retail months following Christmas will be in the Cake Marketing blog next week!