How Retailers Can Optimize In-Store Marketing Efforts
There are significant advantages that small stand-alone stores have over big-box chains. A mom-and-pop retail business can service its customers on an individual basis and doesn't have to follow guidelines set by executives at some corporate office. In addition, stand-alone stores have the ability to form a unique relationship with their customers by learning their tastes, habits and treating them as if they were a friend.
Connecting on an emotional level is something no chain store can do. The person helping you at Home Depot today won't be the same person helping you the next time you visit.
Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz tried very hard to replicate that experience in his coffeehouse establishments. Starbucks trains its employees to engage customers in conversation and try to get to know them a little. But as hard as it tries, at the end of the day Starbucks is still a chain store and it will never be able to fully replicate the experience a customer gets at the local family-owned café.
In-store marketing is one area where small stores are facing an uphill battle. Chains spend millions of dollars a year dressing up their stores for different seasons, events and sales. They have full-time marketing staffs that work with vendors to produce everything from small point-of-sale signs to large banners. Many stores go even further and put out custom displays.
Since the little guys don't have the capital or resources to do this, their stores don't look half as good as their larger competetors. For example, if you walk into a mall your attention is immediately grabbed by a chain store due to its great in-store marketing. The little guy doesn't stand a chance.
There are many ways that a retail business owner can optimize their limited resources and give consumers the experience they want. The following are four tips to help small business owners with their in-store marketing efforts:
- The best in-store marketing tool is a broom. Consumers like to shop in a clean and spotless atmosphere. Make sure that your windows sparkle and your floors shine.
- Merchandise should be arranged in an appealing manner. Go into a chain store that sells similar products to yours to see how its products are displayed. Use their ideas and concepts together with your own to make your merchandise more appealing to consumers.
- Use high-quality signage. There's now an alternative to handwritten signs on paper. Companies offer high-quality signage at affordable prices. These signs give your store a professional look in addition to advertising sales and promotions.
- Set the tone with the right music. Choose songs and playlists according to the demographic of your in-store shoppers. You want to give your target market a comfortable and stimulating environment.
Most of all, remember that despite all the resources the big-box stores have, they can't compete with the more personable experience a well-run small retail business can offer.