Customer engagement is critical for modern brick-and-mortar retailers. With online shopping allowing consumers to buy goods without ever going outside, businesses with physical locations need to go the extra mile to become a destination worth leaving the house for. Fortunately, one of the best methods to entice visitors to take the time to come to your store is by hosting an event there. A well-planned and engaging event will drive traffic to your business and help forge connections with your customers.
There are lots of different kinds of events that can take place at a store, encompassing a wide range of themes, focuses, and motivations. Some of the most popular types of events you can host include the following:
A grand opening, a remodel, an anniversary – these landmark occasions are great opportunities to celebrate. Even a one-year anniversary is cause for celebration! Highlight what’s new about your store or pay homage to your history with events like these.
Product launch parties and promotions are another great excuse for a party. While particularly relevant to media retailers when an important book or album is released, any store with products that garner a strong following can attract attention and harness consumer interest by hosting an event coinciding with the arrival of an exciting new offering.
Holidays and seasonal events
Holidays, especially gift-giving ones, are always important occasions for retailers; but you can add to your store’s appeal to seasonal shoppers by hosting events that capitalize on the holiday. Other events may not be tied to a specific holiday so much as a season, like an outdoor summer sidewalk event or a fall harvest festival – well-executed seasonal celebrations can be just as big a draw as events centered around official holidays. You can even host celebrations tied to things like the local sports seasons (such as a parking lot tailgate party) or school functions.
Giving back is a powerful motivator, so consider hosting events like donation drives, charity auctions or raffles, and other philanthropic enterprises at your store. Showing you care can help boost your company’s reputation as an engaged part of the community, and draw the attention of potential customers that may not otherwise be aware of your store. Also think about donating some portion of sales made during the event – many people are willing to pay more if it goes towards a good cause. Another possibility? Double up by pairing a charity component with a holiday celebration, such as a food drive around Thanksgiving or a toy drive during the Christmas season.
Some stores offer classes and seminars as a way to attract new customers or welcome back returning customers. In many cases, these events are closely linked to the wares offered by the store: furniture stores with interior designers on staff can host classes about decorating; appliance stores may run a class on how to get the most out of a specific product – or even host more loosely-related classes, such as a cooking class using the appliances on sale. Alternatively, the store may be a venue for curriculum with looser ties to the product: one mattress chain organized a series of “Under the Sheets” event, where financial experts discussed savings and money management, and a “B ‘n B (Budgeting in Bed)” lounge showcased bedroom furniture and affordable ways to upgrade a room. A savvy seller can find many ways to connect a class to the commodities they offer.
It can be difficult to go it alone, but fortunately, many brick-and-mortar businesses recognize that working together can be mutually beneficial. Consider organizing an event that can include stores near you, or participating in one organized by your local chamber of commerce or downtown association. Art and music walks, First Fridays, and block parties are just some of the ways groups of businesses can band together to engage customers; holiday and seasonal-themed events are also excellent opportunities for communities to work together through things like lighting ceremonies for Christmas or trick-or-treat walks for Halloween.
Whatever kind of event you want to host at your store, take care in planning it out and make sure you’re ready on the date of the event. Don’t wait until the last minute, and stay organized! Keep an eye out for part two of this series, where we’ll tell you more about event preparation and execution, and how having an ongoing series of in-store events will help grow your business.