According to a study from Pew Research, eight in 10 consumers are now shopping online. That’s almost 80%, which is up from just 22% back in 2000. This puts brick-and-mortar retailers in the position of having to step up their promotional game to compete with those that are full-on digital.
Fortunately, that same study found that 64% of respondents indicate that, all things being equal, they prefer buying from physical stores to buying online. But all things aren’t equal, so brick-and-mortar stores have to get creative — and that can happen with promotions.
A study found that 91% of shoppers make purchases based on in-store promotions, predominantly because they trigger emotional satisfaction, so here are some ideas to drive more retail sales.
Meet the maker
Everyone likes to go behind the scenes, and customers are no exception. In fact, nearly half of Millennials are more likely to purchase from your store if they know who made the merchandise that you’re selling.
Book stores often host book signings with the authors, but everyone can take this approach. If you sell chocolates, bring in the woman who makes them in her home kitchen and have her pass out samples. Do you carry clothing from a local designer? Bring them in so they can debut their new line and host a Q&A. This is your chance to get creative and bring added value to your customers.
Whether or not you discount the products is up to you, but regardless, you’re providing an intimate and immersive product experience that shoppers won’t soon forget.
Partner with other retailers
As the young Michael Corleone in “The Godfather, Part ll” famously said, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” This is true when it comes to retailers — your competition can be your best ally. Some of the best promotions happen when they tie in with other retailers in their neighbourhood or town.
You don’t even have to sell similar items — in fact, it’s better if you don’t — and pull all the retailers together in a promotion that supports a local event or tradition, bringing awareness to your location and the fact that you’re local. According to a survey, 69% of consumers prefer to support local retailers, so gather strength in numbers when competing against the huge chains — it can pay off.
Put on a scavenger hunt
While you might think of children’s stores when scavenger hunts are mentioned, the fact is they’re a great way to bring people of all ages into your store. In-store scavenger hunts are unique promotions in that they leverage gamification to encourage engagement with shoppers.
And who doesn’t like to win prizes?
Scavenger hunts can be executed in a variety of ways, ranging in degrees of complexity. A couple of years ago Starbucks ran its first mobile scavenger hunt using trivia questions about the brand. For every question answered, participants, gained entry into a sweepstake for a chance to play the “Ultimate Scavenger Hunt.” In September, five winners met in New York City to compete in a two-day challenge, with the team that solved the most clues winning a grand-prize trip to Costa Rica.
But you don’t have to go to that scale. You can posts clues in your retail locations that prompt consumers to locate a specific item in the store, take a picture of that item using their smartphone, then post on social media, tagging your brand. At the end of the hunt, choose a winner that receives a gift card to your store.
Exclusive VIP sales
Everyone likes to feel special — especially customers — and the quickest way to win over their loyalty is by rewarding the loyalty they’ve already shown to your brand. Using your loyalty program, target your highest-value customers and make them part of a members-only VIP club that can get customers back in the store again and again.
Host exclusive sales that offer discounts, new product previews, free samples, and time-sensitive deals. Because it’s aimed at a smaller group of people, this also allows you to target and personalise your promotions to the group’s characteristics and interests. And according to Salesforce, 64% of consumers want personalised offers from retailers. Give the people what they want, and you’ll be rewarded as well.
For best results, be sure to integrate your EPOS system with your loyalty program. Doing so will make it easier to track customer, rewards, and loyalty redemption.
Optimise your window displays
While this isn’t necessarily a sales promotion, your window displays are the most economical way to draw people into your store from the street. According to NPD Group research, window displays influence purchases an average of 24% of the time.
Creative window displays are an art form and can be an important way to advertise promotions for retail stores. Not only do they help bring in new and existing customers, they allow retailers to increase foot traffic to the store, display new products, highlight promotions, and enhance the overall brand image.
You can get as creative as you want, but make sure that your window display presents a clear and strong statement about what your business sells or the retail promotion you are offering, so those passing by will be intrigued and step into your store.
Promotions that have a charity angle are a great way to bring more foot traffic to your store, and not all promotions have to benefit the customer. In fact, according to various studies and surveys, 90% of consumers want to see more “responsible” products from retailers, and more than half will pay more for those goods, which means your promotion doesn’t even have to offer a discount.
Here are some ways your sales promos can give back:
● For every in-store purchase made during your promo, donate to a cause or organisation
● Sell locally-made products
● Host an animal adoption fair, as dogs and cats are pretty hard to resist
● Reward customers with a discount for proof of giving back
Hold a class or event
Now is the time to look at your retail space as more than just a store — it can also be an event space or the perfect place for a class. Think about going to the Apple store. Employees aren’t just standing around, they’re constantly running in-store demos and showing people their products at work.
Educational workshops are great to help your customers learn how to use your product, or if that’s not applicable to your stock, you can still hold a class that educates customers on something related to what you sell. If that’s chemical-free beauty products, teach customers how to make their own body lotion. If it’s food, hold a demo that teaches them how to cook.
For customers who don’t necessarily want to learn how to cook or make their own products, offer tasting events, or samples. If you frame it as a customer appreciation event, this can help build relationships with your customers and they’ll associate your store with being a fun place to visit — even when they don’t really need to shop.
The bottom line
There are myriad ways to bring shoppers into your store, and now it’s up to each individual retailer to decide which promotions are the best fit for your particular circumstance. When done strategically, in-store promotions not only bring people in, but also offer them added value — be it education, philanthropy, or fun — which can help you to build up brand loyalty…and increase sales.