How To: Retail Events

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Many retailers host events, usually on the weekends, to promote their business or a specific product. I have hosted many events in my career and I believe that there should be a production for the event. When it looks like there is a party going on more customers will come in to check out what is going on, and they are more likely to purchase something while there.

Retailers have many reasons for holding events, such as:

1. To promote a specific product or brand

2. To sell through inventory (i.e. they ordered too much of that inventory)

3. To increase sales for that weekend

4. To get the word out to customers that they are there, or that they carry a certain product

Pre-Event Planning

  • The retailer should plan the day and time of the event in advance, preferably at least two weeks in advance.
  • The advanced planning allows the retailer to create flyers, door hangers, and mailers to send out to their customer base, which should be a one to three mile radius from the retail location depending on the flow of traffic around the retail location. These marketing items should ideally be distributed one week prior to the event, and then again two days prior to the event. Flyers can be put into each customer bag who purchase from the retail location for one week prior to the event.
  • Don’t forget social networking! The event should be well-promoted via all of the social networking sites to encourage people to go to the event and have fun.
  • The marketing items should have a strong call to action (i.e. why the customer should attend – free food? special deals? coupon on one or more items?, information about the event (i.e. company name, address, phone number, event day and time), and should be colorful to gain the attention of the customer.
  • Complete shopping and/or ordering prior to the event. Make a list of everything needed for the event (i.e. balloons and helium, ez up tent, A-Frame signs, street flags, food/snacks, table, table cloth, food, drinks, games, prizes, giveaways, etc.).
  • If possible, get vendors to come to the event (will likely need to be booked much farther in advance) to promote their product to customer.
  • Schedule extra employees before the event to help setup and during the event to help with customers (and to help deter theft).
A-Frame Sign

During the Event

  • The owner/manager of the retail location should interact with the customers, smiling at everyone, providing assistance where needed, and ensuring employees are on-task with helping customers and selling, selling, selling!
  • The employees should be on point, helping customers, knowledgeable about the products and pricing, and keeping an eye on customers as to help deter theft.
  • Tables, food, balloons, etc. should be out just prior to the event and each employee should know their roles for the day.
  • I recommend having an employee stand at the door to greet customers as they come in if the retailer is large enough.
  • If a customer comes in with a product or service issue the owner/manager, or assistant manager, should assist the customer away from other customers and the customer should leave happy. An upset customer can easily chase off several customers potentially purchasing product in the business that day.
  • Collect business cards from customer and have a pad of paper on hand for customers to write their information on for a drawing they don’t have to be present to win. This will give the retailer customer information for many new customers, an email/text/mailing list for new customers, and the opportunity to bring a customer in again, who will potentially purchase again.

After the Event

  • Run reports to determine the sales for the day and compare them to a regular day of that week to determine the impact and ROI the event had for the business.
  • Debrief the employees and get their feedback on the event. Employees are the first-line in retail and have lots of good ideas, especially since they were doing the majority of customer service and sales during the event. Are more/less employees needed for events? Should there be different sales incentives for customers?
  • Carefully put up event items so they aren’t put into a place where they can be broken so they don’t have to be replaced.

Holding retail events can be quite stressful, but remember to have fun with it! If customers see that you aren’t having fun, then they won’t have fun!

One thought on “How To: Retail Events”

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