COVID-19 shifted consumerism, making online shopping the preferred choice since 2020. Now, in a landscape where online shopping is the number one way for consumers to buy goods, there’s a growing need for store owners to offer their potential customers an enhanced experience. Through events, retailers have found creative ways to attract customers and ultimately drive sales. With this in mind, let’s look at how to create a retail activation strategy that will set your store up for success.
What is retail activation and what are the benefits?
Retail activation focuses on enhanced involvement with shoppers in your retail store. This can be in the form of contests, giveaways, sales, marketing partnerships, and unique experiences. Retail activation combines the excitement of special with the everyday experience of shopping in-store.
There are many benefits to retail activation. Overall, activations have the ability to reach more customers, increase purchases, shift perceptions of your brand, garner more brick-and-mortar attention, and establish your brand with customers. If you get people talking about your store, you can increase traffic. Word-of-mouth is still one of the most effective methods for businesses to raise awareness. In fact, customers get most recommendations from friends or family members — the people they trust the most.
There are also heightened social benefits that many patrons will appreciate. According to a Cigna study in 2018, nearly half of Americans felt alone and separated from others. The most significant factors were lack of human interaction and work-life balance. Community members — and therefore shoppers — are increasingly yearning for a sense of community, and having a bustling in-store culture that includes retail activation and other events is a great way to achieve this.
For an activation to succeed, you need to think about your goals. Which approach is right for you? Ask yourself why shoppers should visit your store and why they would want to make a purchase. You can take a look at our intriguing marketing opportunities that may also help you to establish your brand with customers. Read on to gain some inspiration for forming your activation.
10 ideas to bolster a retail activation’s success
Ready to get more customers through the door? Ask yourself why shoppers visit your store and what makes them want to shop there. Then, find a way to host events and employ retail activation tactics that address your shoppers’ desires. Read on for some intriguing marketing opportunities that will help you establish your brand and generate interest both online and offline. These retail activation ideas can help you build a local buzz.
Add some nature to your store
Your space will sometimes need physical changes to infuse some warmth (and maybe even excitement) into your brand. Elements such as natural lighting, plants, wood, and water can create an environment customers will enjoy spending time in. Let the natural beauty and rich hues of the fall season serve as your inspiration for an autumn-inspired brand activation. Create a fall theme inside of your space to evoke the comfort and coziness of the season. Fill your store with timely shades such as rich red, burnt orange, and golden yellow. Incorporate seasonal elements like autumn leaves, gourds, and pumpkins. These touches will make your store even more welcoming.
Extend this fall-themed in-store brand activation even more by offering your customers some delights of the season. If temperatures are getting chilly in your area, you could serve hot chocolate or apple cider that they can sip while they shop. Add practical additions to your retail space as well — for instance, extra doormats are a must if rain or snow is common during the cooler months.
Launch a giveaway
Customers love the opportunity to get products for free. Retail activation examples include giveaways with the chance to win a certain item. You’ll want to develop clear rules for how to enter the contest, which could include requiring a visit to your store. Alternatively, a contest on social media could drive new customers to your online offering.
Make the fall holiday season even more special for your customers with giveaways. Thanksgiving focuses on family — and its counterpart, Friendsgiving, highlights important friendships — so host a giveaway that encourages time spent together. Some ideas include any item that promotes time with others. Offer up a tent or camping cooler to encourage time spent together in nature. A game night giveaway can include board games, popcorn, and candy for family fun at home.
You can also encourage shopping during the holiday season with a gift card giveaway. Customers can enter to win a gift card to purchase items for themselves or others.
Collaborate with stores for a special event
If you know of other local stores around your area, chances are they may be in the same predicament as you: looking for opportunities to maximize revenue. Consider hosting a retail festival for the community. You can center this event around a fun day for locals while selling them products and tempting food. It could be a one or two-day event, with the primary aim of getting customers familiar with your store and converting them into return shoppers.
These small retail space ideas include forming partnerships with local retailers to create a holiday shopping extravaganza. Think about ways to attract customers to this event. You might host a tree lighting ceremony or decorate your storefronts to usher in the holiday cheer.
Once customers arrive, they can shop from store to store for everyone on their list. Play seasonal music or even hire a local musician to entertain shoppers with festive live music. Offer warm beverages, such as hot chocolate, to keep everyone warm as they move from store to store.
Host classes or seminars
Classes and seminars are one of the most distinctive in-store activities for a retailer. If you sell products that may benefit from in-person instruction, you can conduct classes on using them. For example, you could run a class on how to use the most helpful tech products, from smart speakers to wearables. A clear schedule of classes for consumers to attend will give you a regular flow of people visiting your store for the latest products.
To align with the fall season, consider offering cooking classes in preparation for Thanksgiving. Offer guidance on preparing traditional dishes, including turkey, dressing, and pumpkin pie. Or, teach customers how to make dishes that are popular in different parts of the country, which will add variety to a traditional feast. If you’re hosting cooking classes in December, focus on holiday baking, including guidance on how to prepare cookies, cakes, or brownies.
Cozymeal Events hosts chef-led cooking classes that tap into dishes from many cultures, ranging from Italian brunch to Japanese comfort food. These experiences focus on a specific theme to appeal to customers’ tastebuds.
Install a VR selfie booth
You may have heard of photo booths, but virtual reality (VR) selfie booths allow customers to take portraits in front of a green screen background, which is replaced with colorful special effects. These can be placed inside your store. Since they especially appeal to younger audiences, try using a hashtag to garner engagement on social media. Consider this an interactive side attraction for shoppers.
VR ideas for retail during the holiday season include a backdrop with a theme and special effects. Customers can capture a festive-inspired image in the VR selfie booth. Then, once a month, you can offer a free printed sticker of their selfie with every purchase on a certain day of the month, such as the first of the month.
Launch an ambassador program
Another way to raise awareness is with the help of your most loyal clientele. With an ambassador program, existing customers who love your store can get more involved in marketing it. A mainstream daily newsletter, theSkimm, invited its readers to refer their friends and family and, in turn, receive free merchandise. This program provided a 20% overall growth of theSkimm readership and helped increase brand loyalty among established customers.
December is a busy shopping month, so it’s the perfect time to host small store events and incentives for your ambassadors. Offer a month full of perks for your VIPs. These may include discounts, free products, or VIP admission to holiday events with every purchase they make.
You can also encourage ambassadors to promote your store on social media in exchange for discounts on their next purchase. Simply ask them to share a photo of themselves in your store or to create a post featuring a hashtag of your choice, then ring up their discount at checkout.
Invite makers or authors
You can invite a writer, maker, crafter, or designer to be an attraction at your store as part of a “meet the author” event. The creator can appear at your store for a day or two to meet customers, sign memorabilia, and even give the audience a demonstration, depending on their line of work. Space store traffic throughout the day by offering the special guest appearance in multiple time slots. Allow Eventbrite to keep track of the details for you when selling tickets online. You can have multiple ticket types — like Early Bird or VIP — to maximize ticket sales, too.
These sales activation ideas can have a holiday twist as well. During the week of Halloween, invite local authors of mystery or horror thrillers to come do a midnight reading of their stories. This event will attract anyone looking for a scare in anticipation of Halloween.
You can also host a local artist or crafter to demonstrate how to make holiday decor, such as a door hanger, a wreath, or a centerpiece for the Thanksgiving table. This hands-on display can inspire customers to create similar items for their home during the holiday season.
Partner with local charities
Whether local disaster strikes or you simply want to raise awareness of a good cause, you can partner with a nonprofit organization and donate a percentage of the proceeds. This way, customers feel even better about where their money is going. These new ideas for retail business show your investment in the local community.
A creative idea would be to contact your local animal shelter and have a pet adoption event take place at your store. If you host this event around Halloween, you can feature black cats to keep the event on theme — but encourage adoptions of other pets as well.
Consider other ways you can support the community during the holiday season. Host a toy drive that collects gifts for children in need. To encourage donations, offer a coupon for anyone who contributes. They can support your charity drive and receive a discount off of their next purchase, too.
Promote another local business at your store
For the holiday season, think peanut butter and jelly or Mickey and Minnie — what local business pairs well with yours? If you’re a fan of another business, such as a local brewery or coffee shop, you can offer them a place to sell their products at your place of business. These store activation ideas give customers more incentive to pay a visit and get the products they love at a location that may be more convenient to them. With shared values and vision, it’ll be natural to promote each other’s business until New Year’s Eve when you can select a new business to promote for the following year.
You may also consider aligning with other retailers that offer different gift ideas than yours to add variety to the consumer experience. Get creative as you engage with other local businesses in your community and build your network.
Emphasize free returns and exchanges
Shopping online for a gift can be stressful. Retail store activation ideas focused on free returns and exchanges take the stress out of online purchasing. Buying clothes, furniture, and similar products online has one major disadvantage, too — customers can’t see, feel, or try the product until it’s paid for and delivered to their address. A hassle-free return and exchange policy can help your consumers shop and purchase without worry. If they need assistance with an item, they can get a refund or replacement quickly.
Busy shoppers might forget to request a gift receipt, so make it your store policy to include one (printed or digital) with every item purchased during the holiday season. As a thank you, include a coupon for the gift recipient to enjoy a discount off of their next purchase.
Plan your small store events with Eventbrite
Retail activation ideas can attract new business and allow you to engage with customers in creative ways. No matter what ideas you’re considering, let Eventbrite help with your short- and long-term goals. As you set up holiday-themed events using Eventbrite, you’ll get access to free, productive features. These tools include built-in social sharing, email notifications, and targeted suggestions. Whether you’re hosting ticketed events or free social gatherings, Eventbrite does the heavy lifting to help market all of your important dates.
Grow your retail business with in-store events promoted through Eventbrite. Connect with your customers, expand your store’s reach, and design unique experiences with the help of Eventbrite.
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