Make your retailing experience stand out this Christmas


According to the Bank of England, in the run up to Christmas, a typical UK household will spend an extra £500 or more, on top of their usual monthly budget. That includes an additional 20% on food, 30% extra on alcohol and 80% more on books.

For retailers of these goods and across the board, it’s clearly the busiest season of the year. However, while December’s High Street may appear to be bustling, a recent Bobatoo survey of 2000 consumers warns that 66% are planning to spend less this year than last year and 65% are planning to do most of their shopping online.

All in all, this looks like great news of you’re selling books online – but I think we all know who’s in charge of that marketplace!

For everyone else on the High Street, to make a success of the festive season and really stand out from the crowd, now’s the time to step up your game. One approach many retailers are taking is to set an event, experience or ‘retailtainment’ strategy that suits their brand and excites their customers.

But, how do you come up with the right concept? Well, first of all, remember what you’re up against. The key point of an in-store event or experience is to offer something that your customers won’t be able to get via a quick scroll and click. Another important factor is that you want people not only to come through your doors, but to go away and tell everyone they know how great the whole experience was!

Deciding what works for you will greatly depend on your products, your store and your customers, but here’s a few possibilities:

1. VIP – Nothing makes people feel valued more than an invitation to a seemingly ‘exclusive’ event or experience. It could be a ‘name on the door’ late night shopping session, a slot with a personal shopper, a charity auction, product launch party or even breakfast with Santa!

2. Signings/ guest appearances – Bringing a well-known author or celebrity into your store for a book/product signing session is one way of giving your store’s shopping experience the advantage over its online equivalent. Not only does this kind of event attract fans of your special guest but also offers a great opportunity for you to showcase everything else that makes your store welcoming.

3. Social/ learning experiences – Offering customers the opportunity to attend an event that has a social or learning element (related to your products) can help to attract more customers to your store and help you build a reputation as the expert in your field. So, whether it’s a tech masterclass, cookery school or wine appreciation session, why not capitalise on the offer by also promoting, not only as something for your customers to enjoy themselves but also as a potential experiential gift for their friends/ family.

4. Bring a friend event – As a marketing tool, word-of-mouth recommendations still come out top, beating most other forms of advertising. You could offer exclusive discounts, vouchers, freebies or competition entries to people who introduce a friend to your store. With obvious tie-ins to your social media, this is a great one for increasing brand visibility during the holidays.

5. ‘Retailtainment’ – If you’re up for trying something a little different in the attention-grabbing game, retailtainment (a fusion of entertainment and shopping) is the way to go. Maybe that’s bringing in a bunch of circus-show entertainers to draw in this year’s ‘greatest show’ fanbase or following the example of what one New York store did back in 2015 when their windows featured real people instead of mannequins. The result is likely to be increased footfall and the going viral moment you’ve been looking for!

In many ways, how well your store’s retailing experience stands out this Christmas will be down to your product range and the level of service you deliver. But, running an event or offering a unique experience could be the next best approach for keeping existing customers loyal and attracting higher footfall.

This will only succeed, however, if you invest some time in the preparations and check your staff, systems and processes can adequately support the running of the event. Aside from making sure the physical logistics are in place (e.g. you have enough glasses to hand for that Prosecco night), here’s where it’s useful to allow your technology to step in.

With a modern tablet-based POS system, for instance, you can:

– Use e-receipts or loyalty scheme data to invite customers to join you at your event/ experience.
– Synchronise your social media to a customer facing display at the till – so as to create a buzz before, during and after your event.
– Automate all your discounts, deals and promotions into your POS so there’s no confusion when it comes to applying them at checkout.
– Handle the extra footfall via swiftly managed transactions at the till and/or handheld devices out on the shop floor.
– Keep track of how sales are affected by the event with accurate, real-time sales/ stock reports.

As we wind down another year at the Good Till, we’d love to hear about your in-store events, promotions and experiences and have a chat about how we might be able to support you with any future promotions. Meanwhile, happy holidays!

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