Retail Ideas that Work
Susan Dickenson -- Home Accents Today, 4/1/2013 2:00:00 AM
Interesting retail ideas, innovations and inspirations from retailers around the country. This month's group features ideas from a few of our 2013 Retail Stars. Names have been withheld pending the formal announcement of this year's list, which will publish in the May issue.
"White Sofa" project. "Our white sofa project was one of our most successful merchandising plans to date. We used one white sofa as the consistent feature in the vignette. But each week, for six weeks, we re-created the vignette by simply changing accessories, lamps, rugs and pillows. Our clients literally returned week after week to see the latest transformation. Helping people understand that simple and inexpensive changes can drastically change their own homes was incredibly satisfying. Our home accents sales increased because of the visual impact of the displays and the design education factor we provided."
Find opportunities in problems. "Our best retail ideas start with a solution to a need ... This year, when a paper/plastic bag ban at grocery and other chain stores was implemented countywide, we were right there to explain the ban to our customers and offer a variety of fun, great quality multi-use bags for sale. We treated the new confusing law as an opportunity and, as a result, saw both revenue and profit jump significantly. Just last week we had annoying, unexpected rain. We decided to focus on the opportunity - we offered all umbrellas for half price. That made customers come into the store at a time when traffic is typically low for us, and it made very happy experiences and guaranteed return visits."
Howl at the moon. "On a full moon night, we invited customers to the store (a renovated 1917 dairy barn), for a reception and meet-and-greet with several sponsored artists. After nightfall, guests were asked to exit the store, out to the pasture. The first person to see the full moon rising began howling, and we all joined in. So much fun - we'll do our "Home Howl at the Moon" again this summer and/or fall."
Secret Sale. "During our annual Tent Sale, we do a secret sale within the store. We have a group of items that are normally not on sale and mark them down for that day only, offering our customers a surprise bargain. We get a large crowd to the tent sale that then make it a point to come inside and shop as well."
Monthly wine club. "We host a monthly wine club, as we also carry wine in the store. It always features five different wines that we taste and have complimentary small bites to go with. The club hosts 50 to 60 people with around 45 to 50 of those being wine club members. Wine sales are not our biggest market, but we purchase a boutique selection that is not found in the local grocery and liquor stores. The wine club members are the right demographic and have turned into clients as a result."
One sale, max. "We have only one sale a year (our anniversary sale in July). It truly allows for our brand to be positioned as a stable and always-balanced place to shop. We can focus on consistent advertising messages and keep our clients confident in all we do for them and the community. Knowing that you can shop with us and not worry if what you purchase is going to be on sale next week or next month removes a major hurdle in today's "everything is on sale" mentality."
Paris and London fleamarkets. "Our Paris Flea Market and then later, the addition of our Portobello Road Market have become extremely well known and popular in our area. The first event features antiques, décor, refreshments and music reflective of Paris, and the second has a London theme. There is no discount/sale on those days, but we have great sales of our regular merchandise as well as antiques by our invited dealers. We open an hour early, with lines at the door waiting to get first choice of the one-of-a-kind items."
Demonstration kitchen. "Opening our demonstration kitchen has brought more people through our door than any other type of marketing. Once they are there, they shop in our retail store. We hold cooking classes and other special events in the space. A café-like atmosphere encourages the customers to sit and visit. It has improved our kitchen and bath design business as well. It was a costly investment but well worth it."
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