Independent Retailer Month, the global “Shop Local” July campaign that highlights the important role local merchants play in the community, economy and overall retail sector, is behind us, but lessons learned need not be. Independent retailers can incorporate marketing and management strategies into their business plans all year long. Many of the ideas put forth by Independent Retailer Month founders Kerry Bannigan, CEO Nolcha Fashion Week and Tom Shay, principal of Profits Plus (USA); Barbara Crowhurst from Retail Makeover (Canada); and Clare Rayner, The Retail Champion (UK) deserve to be revisited.
Campaign ideas from Independent Retailer Month for in-store promotions include:
- Give customers a $1 bonus buck for every $10 they spend in your store, making them redeemable in the month ahead.
- Offer refreshments/happy hour.
- Team up with a salon/spa and offer customers in-store pampering.
- Offer goodie bags and/or limited edition products with certain purchases or to new customers.
- Run a contest offering the chance for one lucky winner to have a private shopping party.
- Team up with neighboring independent retailers to host a shopping crawl.
Independent Retailer Month founders offer the following suggestions for online campaigns:
- Have a contest for the most creative photo in which the customer is shown with your shopping bag.
- Offer exclusive coupons on your website that are redeemable in store only.
- Host a “My favorite outfit” contest with customers submitting photos in which they wear clothing bought at your store; customers choose the winner, who receives a gift/coupon/discount.
- Use social media to “hot spot” select products on select days throughout the month.
- Hold a “My day in the store” video blog contest; ask guests to visit your store and take a short video of their experience talking about customer service, purchases and why they visited you, and upload it to YouTube. The video with the most hits at the end of a given time period wins a prize.
There are also interesting suggestions to enhance community involvement, including:
- Give an award to the customer that has done the most to volunteer work in your community during the past year.
- Take on a community project such as replanting the planters in the area where your store is located.
- Offer to make a donation of 10 percent of the purchase price for each customer that names a local charity and invite local media to interview you on the campaign.
- Create a promotion page that lists all the independent retailers in your area. Hand this page to customers as they visit your store.
Some of these ideas require capital but many simply involve your creative talents and a little time. Implementing a marketing strategy is a fun way to engage people with, and grow, your business as well as to become involved in and help your community.