I can’t believe it is spring already?! I’ve had a really productive time finding great new cards at the shows and now it is time to think through how to make the most of them to drive sales; to do this we need to think about how consumer’s needs have changed recently and how we can satisfy them...
We are all consumers ourselves but as retailers we need customers and one of the most important changes recently is how our shopping habits have changed.
It started in the recession when we were all very careful about what we spent but it has continued as a way of shopping as more and more consumers do smaller but more frequent shops - particularly for food. This is great news because we have more chance to sell to them whenever they are out shopping, but there are other knock-on effects to consider too.
1. Start a Loyalty Scheme
For example, next time they go shopping they may go to another retailer for their cards so you need to get them to shop with you NOW or find a way of encouraging them to come back to you maybe with some sort of loyalty scheme.
2. Introduce low-priced add-on sales
Each time they visit it is likely that they will spend less, so how can you get them to spend more when they do come in? Encourage your staff to introduce relevant and useful low-priced, add-on sales in your card and gift shop - such as tags and tissue, or sell tape with wrapping paper, or stamps with a card... but not a chocolate bar, regardless of what you are buying!
3. Keep your stock fresh
If they are visiting your store more often you will need to have fresh new products arriving regularly to tempt them maybe phasing the deliveries of orders you have placed at the show to arrive at 3-4 week intervals rather than all together - this will help your cash flow too!
4. Find instore display inspiration in Rio
As well as having new cards instore you will need to change, move and refresh your windows and instore displays more regularly so even if you haven’t got lots of new cards your customers think you have. The spring seasons help us with that but once Easter is over you need to keep up with those regular changes.
I am going to be using the new bright tropical colours as a great excuse to have the most wonderful displays. Rio is known for its fantastic parties and vibrant atmosphere and you can see its influence on the themes and colours of cards being published this year with pineapples, tropical palms, beach parties and BBQs - all giving us a great excuse to get in the mood for sun, fun and parties.
5. Understand your 'flow' of customers
The ‘high street’ has changed a lot recently with many retailers closing and plenty opening too so have a think about the changes to your shopping area in the last 12 months; new markets and pop-ups as well as longer term retailers can all effect our businesses and the ‘flow’ of customers around a shopping area as can changes to parking and bus routes.
6. Know your competition - their pricing and their ranges
Many retailers perceive competitors as a threat but I think a bit of healthy competition is good as it challenges us to stay on top of our game and if they are NEW competitors they may bring new shoppers to the street, so think how that could benefit you. Regardless it is really important to know your current competitors; take some time to identify who your main local competitors are this year and go and look at what they are doing, the effect it is having on your customers and their perception of your business.
Keep an eye on their pricing, are they doing more SALES or more promotions? How is that effecting you and is that good or not, and what will you do about it? And then look at the ranges they are stocking, the type of product and the suppliers they are using: is their product range getting more or less like yours?
And finally what services are they offering? It doesn’t have to be anything as complicated as a gift wrapping service; it is the simple things that are so important like greeting all your shoppers as they come in and checking they have found everything they were looking for during their visit.
7. Harness mobile with the power of Social
The use of mobile devices to purchase goods continues to grow and shows no sign of slowing down, transactional websites are not practical or appropriate for all retailers but you can still benefit from this trend even if you haven’t got one.
The use of mobile devices to research, price compare, find stockists etc, etc means that even if you don’t want, need or can’t afford a transactional website - you can still have a great landing page for your business. Set up a Pinterest board or use Facebook or Instagram. This would mean you could have a visible presence on the internet which shows the new products that have just arrived, talks about up and coming events and promotions so you create interest for your business, and encourage shoppers to follow you so they know what you have got in stock that is new. Ideally either you or one of your staff would create and maintain a presence for your business, but if you are going to do it you must do it regularly and well.
We know retailing continues to be very competitive and if we are going to do well we need to keep one step ahead, offering our customers what they want, when they want it. I hope you find these tips useful... happy selling!