“Merchandising tips that will have customers flocking to your store this holiday season.”
The holiday season provides an enormous opportunity for you to encourage foot traffic into your store and develop relationships with existing and new consumers. But how do you make your store one that shoppers will flock to? It takes planning and preparation, and if you’re a bit behind on making plans for the holiday season, read this article now. If your store is already merchandised for the holiday season, well, read on anyway; you might get a few new merchandising ideas and last-minute tips that will make your shop fun to visit, stand out from the rest, and make customers want to come back and tell everyone else about your great store.
1. ENTICE WITH THEMED WINDOW DISPLAYS
It’s easy to forget and underestimate the power and effectiveness of great themed window displays, but research proves that an engaging display in a store window or by the front door, especially during the holiday season, can entice passers-by to enter your store. If you’ve ever seen the holiday window displays at notable New York City retailers such as Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor, Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman and others, you know how effective window displays can be – and oftentimes, those stores don’t even feature products in their window displays; rather, they tell a story of the Christmas season in a visually appealing way. While window displays and other “external” visual merchandising is important to attracting foot traffic into your store, Daniel Karell, with Point Park University in Philadelphia, Pa., cautions that it’s important not to overwhelm shoppers with messaging. All displays and signage should be well thought out and to the point, sending a concise message to customers. It’s better to focus on one message and/or product type to entice shoppers to enter your store; then, once they’re inside, they can explore all the products you have to offer.
2. CARRY OUT THE THEME STOREWIDE
Karell also says that incorporating a visual merchandising theme throughout your store, from the exterior to the interior, will keep shoppers engaged and can reduce their anxiety and stress levels. It’s true. Harmony wins over chaos every time. Karell advises making shopping in your store a stimulating yet peaceful experience and avoiding confusing or overwhelming customers with too many or disjointed themes, motifs, color palettes and messages, which can cause them to walk away without buying.
Christine Scharf, visual display coordinator at DEMDACO, says that having a consistent theme – or flow of themes – in decorations, lighting, colors and greenery, can reduce visual clutter and help a store feel more organized and intentional in its layout. She agrees that a window or front-of-store display should establish a theme and will entice shoppers inside to see more.
3. MAKE DISPLAYS INTERACTIVE
Shoppers in a brick-and-mortar store like to feel, pick up and smell, so it’s important to display your products so that they can be easily touched and picked-up by shoppers without fear of knocking over or breaking something, or ruining a display by selecting an item (display multiple units of individual items nearby to encourage buying). Karell recommends making your displays pop with brightness, colors and scents, and adding music or sound to them, when possible, as other ways to draw in customers. Deloitte’s annual “Holiday Retail Survey” points out that “the ability to see and touch products is the top motivator for visiting a brick-and-mortar store instead of shopping online,” so creating engaging and interactive displays can bring potential customers into your store (again and again) and keep them from browsing similar products on the internet.
4. GROUP YOUR MERCHANDISE
One of the best ways to boost sales is to pair related or complementary items together in displays and even to package multiple items together at prices lower than buying the items individually. Consumer research shows this technique works: When complementary items are paired together, such as a plant and a decorative pot, a bouquet and a decorative vase, or coffee or tea and decorative mugs, customers are more likely to purchase both items, generating higher sales. Karell suggests selecting items to feature and pairing them with discounts and promotions to entice customers. Everyone likes the “latest and greatest” and getting a discount. “If you utilize this technique,” Karell says, “it helps to use ‘visual cues,’ such as creative signage in the display, arrows pointing at the products, or bright lights that attract attention to the items, in order to point customers toward the grouped or promotional items.”
5. USE CREATIVE SIGNAGE
It cannot be overstated how important well- executed signage is in helping customers make buying decisions. Good signage acts as a “silent salesperson,” providing information and answering questions for those who like to browse and/or when a live salesperson is unavailable. Scharf notes that when shoppers aren’t sure what items to purchase, signage can help to provide ideas and direction, which, in turn, drives sales. “Try merchandising an area with supporting signage that calls out ‘Stocking Stuffers’ or whatever relates to your store and holiday product lines,” she advises. “Also, if there are certain products you’ve invested heavily in, be sure to draw attention to them with signage that catches the eyes and draws shoppers over to have a closer look.” Karell says that in addition to the types of information you include on your signage, it’s also important to consider the location of signs within your store and to make sure the messages being communicated are clear.
6. PLAY WITH LIGHTING
Thoughtful lighting is a great way to create an inviting and pleasant atmosphere for customers, Scharf says. “Small adjustments, like using a colored light bulb can change the entire feel of a display – especially during the holidays – and spotlighting certain products you want to showcase will make them stand out.” she assures. “Adjust spotlights to shine on specific table displays or walls, or in front of store window displays.” Scharf says that another idea is to add small table lamps to nooks and crannies, to add visual interest and ambiance. If you don’t carry table lamps as part of your merchandise mix, purchase a few at a flea market, antique store, yard sale or discount retailer, and price them for sale in your store, along with your other merchandise.
7. FIND INSPIRATION
Scharf reminds that Pinterest is a treasure trove of inspiration for holiday displays. “Try searching ‘visual display ideas’ for lots of great boards. Instagram is another good resource for inspiration. Try searching #visualmerchandising and #windowdisplay for more than a million user-shared images,” she advises.
Ideas for Increasing Holiday Foot Traffic
By Christine Scharf, visual display coordinator, DEMDACO (demdaco.com)
Consumers are especially fond of browsing an unexpected variety of thoughtful gift options for friends and loved ones in warm and inviting flower and gift shops. Here are some ideas for boosting foot traffic and getting shoppers to stay longer this holiday season.
OFFER AMENITIES Amenities will create a more comfortable environment that will entice customers to spend more time in your store. Here are a few suggestions, but have a brainstorming session with your staff to come up with other ideas that would appeal to your customer base.
1. Create an area where both shoppers and their companions can relax.
Holiday shoppers get weary, so create a seating space for them to take a breather and maybe recharge their cellphones. Doing so will ensure that they will spend more time in your store and be happier while they’re there. Also offer refreshments, free Wi-Fi and other entertainment amenities that will encourage shoppers and their companions to hang out in your store and visit more often. For refreshments, provide samples of gourmet items you sell in your store – both bites and sips. Locate your refreshment station near your kitchen and home-entertaining giftware section. If you don’t sell gourmet or giftware, barter with a nearby bakery, coffee shop or restaurant to provide tasty treats for your store (along with stacks of their business cards), and reciprocate by providing holiday arrangements, plants and other décor for their entryways, counters or tables.
2. Create a “fun zone”
… with activities, books and toys that will keep children occupied while their parents shop.
3. Create an inviting and exciting photo area where shoppers can take photos of themselves in your store
… perhaps a designated spot in a display. Provide signage with a hashtag for social media posting, which can lead to free advertising and buzz via social media.This on-trend marketing tactic is both interactive and successful, especially among millennial consumers.
Hosting events is one of the best ways to get shoppers into your store; they offer experiences customers won’t find online or in other stores. Consider open houses, workshops and classes, design and product demonstrations, holiday fundraisers, artist and musician showcases, school choirs and carolers, etc. Partner with your vendors, local civic organizations, charities, schools, churches, military and first-responder organizations, artists and others to create engaging and memorable activities, and be sure to invite selected groups in your community, from organizations to churches to retirement communities and more, to specific events. Think creatively. Events draw traffic with something that not all flower shops do, and they put like-minded people together in a social environment. It also increases your fan base and relationships with individuals in your community. Offer product specials and refreshments at events, and promote them on your website and social media, at neighboring businesses and in your window displays.
Provide help carrying packages to the car; add store greeters (authenticity is necessary for this to be effective); and instead of pointing customers toward something they ask about, walk them to it. In addition to showing your customers that you are interested in helping them find just the right gifts and décor, this last suggestion will give you an opportunity to establish relationships with them, find out more about what they’re looking for and who they’re shopping for, and give them interesting information about the product(s). When you offer great customer service, word will spread, and it will attract even more customers.
Particularly in this era of online shopping, customers who make the effort to visit your shop are gold. Treat them like the gold they are; give them more than you have to; show them how much they mean to you; and genuinely thank them for visiting your store, even if they don’t buy something during their visit. And in addition to showing your appreciation to your customers, do the same for your employees. Provide lunch, dinner and/or snacks during your busiest periods, notice their hard work, and reward them accordingly. Thank them. Then thank them again. If you and your staff enjoy the holiday retail season, your customers will, too – and they will buy more.