Prime Day is a retail holiday invented by Amazon that is exclusive to Prime members. Founded in 2015, the sale brought in $2.41 billion in 2017 and is expected to grow even more this year. With that kind of volume, it’s obvious consumers and other retailers are taking notice.
To compete with Amazon’s Prime Day, Wayfair® celebrated their first-ever retail holiday, Way Day, on April 25th. Just like Prime Day, they offered Black Friday style low prices and free shipping on all orders in a 24-hour time period. They also hosted celebrations outside of the company’s global headquarters in Boston and in a pop-up location in downtown Toronto. As a way to entice their current credit card holders and encourage newcomers to sign up for one, customers who shopped with their store card earned triple rewards on all purchases.
Holidays like this can be a great incentive for returning and new customers. The best part is you don’t have to be an online retailer to create your own holiday. This is also a great opportunity for brick and mortar retailers to stand up, have a voice, and create your own store holiday to help with foot traffic and sales. Independent retailers have the upper hand since consumers don’t need to pay for a membership just to walk in your door. Put on a friendly face, have some sales, and let the magic happen.
Create a fun themed holiday and do something special in your store to bring in customers. One of the main ways Victoria’s Secret® gets customers’ attention is by offering free products when they spend a certain amount. You can offer goodie bags filled with different samples, or create a new “special” item only for customers on that day.
Take John Dudas for example, who co-owns Carol & John’s Comic Book Shop in Cleveland, OR. They participated in the 17th annual Free Comic Book Day, which is the first Saturday of every May. Starting as an international event in 2002 by Joe Field, owner of Flying Color Comics, Carol & John’s Comic Book Shop has turned this day into a local business owner’s dream.
“One of our friends owns a bakery nearby, and she happened to find the exact recipe that a Walking Dead character made in the show,” Dudas said. “So for a half hour, customers can go get those cookies during Free Comic Book Day.”
Dudas’s mission is to create a meaningful engagement between the business and the customers. They have participated in this event since day one, and every year the outcome continues to grow. He said they usually get about three thousand people in twenty-four hours. Many other independent business owners also partake in the event, coming out to entertain customers who are waiting in line.
Other independent retailers in Portland, OR, take part in Little Boxes, an annual alternative to shopping at big-box national chains that offer big discounts during the entire Thanksgiving weekend. Starting in 2011, Little Boxes gives shoppers the chance to win raffle prizes depending on how many purchases they make at participating stores. Debbe Hamada, whose gift shop Tilde is participating, uses an app to help customers find as many as possible. Since Little Boxes began, Hamada said her Black Friday sales have risen between 5 and 20 percent each year, according to a CBS News article. She said the day after Thanksgiving has gone from one of the slowest days to one of the biggest of the season.
Creating these fun experiences gives an emotional connection to customers, especially with smaller retailers who can give customers the time of day to talk face-to-face about what they’re offering. These special holidays makes customers feel like they’re getting more value from a retailer and able to create a bond with them, which will keep them coming back for more.
So don’t hesitate to make your own retail holiday, because even though retail giants like Amazon can have more products and sales, they don’t have the ability to create a heartfelt experience with customers like independent retailers do.