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Keeping Up with the Competition

competition

Keeping up with the competition can be hard when you’re going against big-box stores and online quilt shops. We’ve got four tips to set yourself apart so you stay in front of customers minds.

Approaching the customer

Keep the pressure off the customer by greeting them as they enter the store. Instead of asking “May I help you?” say “Nice to see you!” instead. The goal is to make them feel welcome, not to put them on the spot, and a greeting is the same as letting the customer know you’re there and available.

Hosting events

Think about it this way; there are two restaurants that serve essentially the same menu right across the street from each other. One restaurant has people inside and around it, and the other is empty. Which restaurant are you going to eat at?

It’s a proven sales tactic that if you make your retail store look like the place to be, more business will follow. Hosting events is a great way to ensure your store stays full—and just because we’re in a pandemic doesn’t mean that fun has to stop. Host virtual events, and personally invite customers to those events. You may want to keep some small (so they feel more exclusive) and others larger to continue to build community with your client base.

Encourage self learning

People like to help themselves. Many companies have guides that answer frequently-asked customer questions. What size needle do I need? What do different thread weights mean? Post these guides on social media (and don’t forget to tag the companies!) as well as by the product on your sales floor.

Optimizing your online presence

Encourage your customers to show off how they use your products on social media through store-specific hashtags. Make sure your website includes photos of employees, the facade of your brick-and-mortar store, and a video of the sales floor. Following these tips will help to set your store apart from the rest of the competition.

Inspiration for this post came from “Become the Go-To Quilt Shop,” by Kate Colleran, Joanne Hillestad, and Kris Poor, published in the June 2020 version of American Quilt Retailer.


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Shoppertainment: Hosting events at your store

Events

Hosting events can be tough; it takes a lot of planning and organization to execute them well. If you’re hesitant to make events at your store a regular happening, look no further than American Quilt Retailer to help you through the process.

Check out our step-by-step list to guide you through the moves to make sure your first event (and every event after) is a success.

Evaluate

Determining what type of event your store should throw takes some evaluation; will the event attract current customers? Will the event attract new customers? How can the event encourage new customers to come back to your store? If the idea you have in mind addresses all three points than it’s a safe bet to follow through with the plan.

Three to Four Months Before

  • Send letters to vendors requesting merchandise for giveaways (many stores incorporate this into their budgets, you’ll never know if you don’t ask).
  • Ask for in-store help preparing classes and goodie bags.
  • Plan your advertising—what outlets will you use and when do you plan on contacting them to promote the event?
  • Choose your entertainment. DJs are always a good place to start.

Two Months Before

  • Check with staff weekly to make sure everyone is on par with getting their tasks done.
  • Follow up with vendors and entertainment. Check if they have any special needs (electricity is always a big one).
  • Put in your catering order.

One Month Before

  • Schedule social media posts promoting event.
  • Draw layout of sales floor outlining where everything will be day-of.
  • If this is invitation only, design your invites.
  • Start handing out fliers of the event to customers at check out. Be sure to train your staff on a 30-second pitch promoting the event as they put the flier in the bag.

Two Weeks Before

  • Check with staff to make sure everything is going as planned. If you find out things aren’t going as you’d think, you still have time to correct them.
  • Send your invitations.

One Week Before

  • Send press releases around town.
  • Prepare a list of in-store specials (grand-prize drawing 7:15, demo #1 at 7:30, etc.)
  • Talk about your event in your company voicemail.
  • Follow up with entertainment to make sure they’re ready for day-of.
  • Double check refreshment order.
  • Make “jar of beans” for guessing game. Not only do attendees love it, but it’s a great way to get names and contact information.
  • Start to get your sales floor ready for the event.
  • Adjust window displays to go with theme.

Day Before

  • Finalize floor plan.
  • Hang all decorations before you leave for the night.
  • And of course, check your master plan again.

Day-Of

  • Schedule pre-breakfast meeting with staff.
  • Distribute copies of schedule to staff and place by register, cutting areas, etc.
  • Greet guests at door and encourage them to sign a guest book, this is another great way to get contact information from the attendees.
  • Take photos.
  • And have fun!

After the Event

  • Send an anonymous survey to staff to get their opinion about how the event went.
  • Record sales, customer count, advertising process, number of vendors, and even the weather for the day. Keep this on file to compare to other events.
  • Send follow-up press releases of event with images.
  • Send personal letters (not emails) to everyone who helped.

We recommend hosting four major events a year and one to two smaller events a month. The smaller events can be classes, demonstrations, or make-and-takes.

Events can be fun and will become easier to manage with time. Hopefully some events will be such a success they turn into an annual endeavor.

Inspiration for this post comes from Georgeanne Bender and Rich Kizer. You can find out more about them and their product offerings at their website.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you.