New Ideas to Bring Customers Back into the Store

Text on the left on an orange background reads "New Ideas to Bring Customers Back Into the Store". On the right is an easel sign on a sidewalk that reads "This is a Sign that you should be knitting".

New Ideas to Bring Customers Back into the Store

Spring has arrived, and with it vaccines and a slight relaxing of pandemic guidelines. As people get out and circulate more you’ll want to welcome them back into your store. Few customers who enter your store leave empty handed. It follows that increasing the number of people who visit your shop will increase your sales. The trick is getting them in the door in the first place.

Even though we’ve spent the last year concentrating on building virtual and online shopping experiences (and those should continue), don’t overlook the importance of driving customers back into your brick-and-mortar store. In this article, we’ll look at ways you can bring new customers into your shop and keep existing customers visiting more often.

 

Make a Great First Impression

When was the last time you took a critical look at your store’s façade? Is it attractive, welcoming, uncluttered, and up to date? Are your windows washed and your sidewalks swept on a regular schedule? Peeling paint and unkempt landscaping will counteract all your efforts to attract customers.

Modern shopping centers provide great retail spaces, but they can present special challenges. There might be restrictions on the size, style, and position of signs. You might have ample windows, but they may have a reflective coating that obscures the view from outside. Study the provisions of your lease, work with your landlord, and use some creative thinking to find ways to make your store stand out. If there are restrictions on permanently installed signs, can you use temporary signs, such as A-frames and banners, which you put out and take in each day?

Are your signs clear and eye-catching? Are they positioned where they can easily be spotted by passersby? A single sign high on the building above an awning may not be noticed by pedestrians or shoppers on the lookout for a parking place. Can you place additional signs closer to eye level? If your signs were installed years ago, check to be sure they haven’t faded or cracked. If you’ve updated your brand identity or logo, update your signs to match.

Window displays are a great opportunity to draw customers into your store. A colorful, creative display gives potential customers a hint of what your shop has to offer and invites them inside to see more. Don’t be afraid to tell a story or employ whimsy in your displays, but don’t overcrowd your windows. Keep your displays tightly focused on a seasonal theme, with a cohesive color scheme. Install quality light fixtures to highlight your displays. Never allow your window displays to become dusty or faded. Change them often to highlight new products or projects.

Reach beyond the footprint of your store with exterior displays. Consider placing an A-frame chalkboard sign outside your door. Instead of explicitly “selling”, use this space to showcase your store’s personality with funny or thought-provoking sayings. Encourage passersby to share your sign on social media by including your Instagram name.

Do you have an outdoor space where you can hang samples? Few things are more effective for attracting attention and telling people what you’re all about than a full-size quilt or gorgeous knit or crochet samples. Of course, you’ll need to keep your eye on the weather, and you’ll need to supply the items, but the message these handcrafted items send will be worth the effort.

Is there space outside your store for a bench or a couple of garden chairs? Window shoppers are more likely to come inside if there is a comfortable place for their companions to wait.

Finally, make sure your shop feels safe for shopping in the pandemic era. Mask requirements, extra hand sanitizer, ensuring customers stay 6 feet apart and there aren’t too many in the store at once will give your customers and employees reassurance that you care about their safety.

 

Make Each Visit to Your Store an Adventure

Entering your store should make customers feel good about themselves. Aim to create a feeling of belonging, excitement, inspiration, and surprise.

How often do you rearrange your merchandise? Of course, you swap out holiday-themed fabrics, but what about the rest of your inventory? Give your customers a reason to wander the aisles with a fresh eye by moving things around. Use your products to anchor inspiring seasonal displays.

Keely Northrup, owner of Sealed with a Kiss (a Rowan Flagship Store), completely flips her store inventory back to front in both the fall and the spring. In the fall, she showcases the new Rowan collections and gears up for prime knitting season and the holidays. In the spring, she shares lighter-weight spring and summer projects. And all the while she’s adding fun and funky fashion, handbags, lotions, and other items to give customers the feel of downtown Guthrie, Oklahoma.

You may not have the space or the budget to redecorate your store every season, but there are some ideas here that will work at any scale: 

  • Not everything has to be product. Some displays can simply be beautiful and inspiring.
  • Change your displays on a regular schedule. This keeps things fresh and gives customers something to anticipate.
  • Document your new display and share it via your blog, newsletter, and social media. You might not have a video crew follow you around, but you can certainly create a Facebook Live or YouTube video showcasing what you’ve done. Invite customers to come in and see what’s new.

 

Check Your Online Listings

When crafters are looking for supplies in an unfamiliar neighborhood, their search is likely to start online. If your business isn’t listed on Google, you’re missing out on lots of potential customers. If you haven’t already done so, claim your business and make sure your information is accurate, detailed and complete. Be sure to include store hours, telephone number, and a link to your website. Don’t underestimate the value of photos. Include attractive photos of the interior of the store that convey your shop’s personality.

Once you’ve optimized your Google listing, do the same for Yelp and Facebook.

Your business accounts on all social media channels should be actively managed. Be sure you’re responding to customer reviews, both positive and negative. A prospective customer may decide to skip visiting your store if they see negative reviews with no response.

 

Turn Online Sales into an In-Store Visit

Does your online shopping cart offer “pick-up in store” as a delivery option? It should! In-store pick up saves both you and the customer the expense of shipping, and it brings the customer through your doors. In a 2014 study, UPS found that local customers who shopped online choose in-store pickup about half the time. Of those customers, 45% bought something else when they came into the store.

 

Keep Your Online Inventory Listings Current

Customers who plan to buy in person often begin their search online. Instead of picking up the phone to ask if you carry a particular product, many customers will start with your website. Be sure your inventory listings are up to date and complete, with tags for popular brand and designer names.

 

Host Classes and Events

The most successful crafty businesses offer customers more than just a transaction. They give customers a reason other than shopping to come to the store.

Classes and Make-A-Longs are a proven way to keep customers coming back. As their confidence and skills increase, crafters are inspired to continue trying new projects. Be sure to work with your teachers to make sure all yarn or fabrics, tools, and notions used in class projects are in stock.

Work with your suppliers to host trunk shows and demonstrations. Customers will be eager to get a first look at new fabric collections, yarns, or pattern collections, especially if they can meet the maker behind the label. If you’re bringing in a new line of tools, display finished samples and schedule a demonstration day to teach customers how to use the new products.

 

Join Forces with Other Shop Owners

Quilt shop hops and yarn crawls are nothing new, but are you making the most of this opportunity to bring new customers to your shop?

Quilt Shops of the Central Coast in California is a group of 10 independent shops spread out over 150 miles of Highway 101. They host their annual shop tour over a three-day weekend. Their website gives full details of the shops, events, and opportunities to win prizes, with a beautifully drawn map. They also offer a 2-day bus tour, with stops at each shop, a centrally located hotel, and lunch included each day. Their next event has been postponed until 2022, but we’re sure it will return stronger than ever!

The Chicago Yarn Crawl will be held in early August this year and they’re planning for both virtual and in-person shopping! With a total of nineteen shops in four general regions, the celebration of Chicagoland’s region is tons of fun with prize drawings, exclusive patterns, and a passport you can get stamped!

Yes, it takes a lot of planning and work to create a blockbuster shop crawl. But you can’t find a more targeted way to market your shop. Through the advance promotion, your store will be introduced to hundreds (thousands?) of crafters within reasonable driving distance. During the crawl, hundreds of dedicated crafters will walk through your door, eager to see your store and ready to spend.

 

Expand Your Outreach

Besides your shop, where can you find crafters? Whatever the answer is, you should be there, too!

Does your town have craft fairs, maker markets, or arts festivals? Look into the cost of booth space. With a 10’ x 10’ booth, you can display finished projects along with a selection of supplies and a sign that promotes your shop. You can hand out flyers with directions from the festival to your shop, and a coupon for a discount on purchases made in-store.

Many cities have a Convention and Visitors bureau or Visitor Information center. Find out how you can be included in their listings of local attractions.

Seek out the textile teachers at the local high school, community college, or recreation department. Invite them to visit your shop and offer discount coupons to be passed on to their students. Consider donating fabric, yarn, and supplies, especially if you have stale inventory that’s just not moving.

We hope we’ve given you some ideas on how to bring customers back into your stores and keep them coming in!

Do you want help developing and executing an effective plan for increasing foot traffic in your shop? Contact us to get started on crafting a better business together!

 

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