As I find myself looking forward to Christmas shopping, I reflect on what I’ve learned about what makes retail businesses successful. Over the years I’ve attended workshops for how to support Main Street businesses, operated my own gift shop, and hired a nationally-recognized retail expert to spark interest in a downtown.
This experience – plus the collective expertise of business owners and community members – drove the vision for developing 21st & Main, a shopping, dining and entertainment venue in downtown Torrington, Wyo.
Here are some of the tips for retailers to make their own business a destination for shoppers this holiday season and throughout the year.
1. Use the whole wall for displays.
While it is important to keep plenty of stock at eye level or within reach, don’t miss the opportunity to use the whole wall for displays and signage. For example, a boutique could put together an outfit on the wall above clothing racks.
2. Create a focal point to encourage shoppers to take selfies.
If you set up an area for photos, be sure to include signage, logos, and hashtags to identify your business and attract customers.
3. Put away your sharpie.
Hand-written signs and fliers posted on the business door, in the window, on sale racks, or near the register do not belong in your business.
4. Have enough inventory.
When I walk into a store and see multiple paths to explore, I am more likely to make a purchase. If I walk into a store and I can quickly see the inventory, I get a sinking feeling and wonder about the viability of the business. The trick is to create displays so that the customer must wander through the store, as on an adventure.
5. Does shopping with you feel like an event?
One current trend is event-based retail. Some examples are hosting a seasonal open house or featuring entertainment. Partnering with other businesses periodically is another way to leverage advertising dollars and draw traffic. To successfully implement this strategy, a business must be in frequent communication with a customer mailing list.
6. Create an experience.
I’m borrowing this term from the tourism industry, which means visitors want to learn about the culture of the destination. Translated to retail, this means offering shoppers something to do in addition to something to buy.
Cabella’s is a good example. Shoppers can buy a cup of coffee or fudge, view displays of mounted wildlife, and purchase all kinds of outdoor gear. Taking that a step further, an outdoor retailer could sponsor a bike race.
What examples have you seen of destination businesses or experiential retail?