Rob Straathof, CEO of finance experts Liberis talks us through the three best ways for toy retailers to make the most of a sporting summer.
From the Olympics to Wimbledon, retailers are well aware of the buzz that national, international and even local, sporting events can generate.
With everyone wanting to be part of the group talking about the matches of the day, retailers can jump on a number of major events throughout the year to increase footfall and boost sales.
Assuming you have already identified the most appropriate events for your retail business, here are three ways you can take advantage of them this year and beyond:
Go all in with your theme - or don't bother
It's not enough to make a tenuous link to an event and tell people to shop with you. You need to get their imaginations going, and kitting out your store with a cohesive theme is a key way to achieve this.
A natural place to start is with your window display. Changing it now and then grabs the attention of your regular customers as well as inspiring passers-by to make an impulse purchase; use light, motion and do something unexpected to stand out from your neighbours.
For example, you might have a local tie to an international sports personality. Toy store Toy Hub in Dunblane often changes its window display to cheer on local hero Andy Murray.
With creative ideas like placing a LEGO figure dressed up as Murray front and centre in their window, owners Helen and Gerard Gourley are even often able to secure press coverage for their store:
To make it as quick and easy as possible to change your window display around, consider investing in a window display system.
For example, systems on rails make it easy for staff to change the display and it allows easy access for cleaning.
Beyond your window, keep the theme constant throughout your store to take potential customers on a journey – or at least keep your relevant merchandise displayed within view of the door.
From bespoke FSDUs and branded dump bins to creative POS displays, the only limit to your in-store experience is your imagination.
Finally, entice your website visitors to find out more about your event-related range by hosting a takeover on your website – licensing and copyright permitting, of course.
To promote the new Secret Life of Pets range, The Entertainer toy store has made use of sidebar graphics similar to ads run by many content publishers.
The Entertainer’s ‘ads’ are simple, attractive and unobtrusive and click through to a specially-designed landing page:
Jump in on the conversation
You can plan to use social media hashtags ahead of sporting events as well as during them to promote your business.
In the weeks before any sporting event, plan to publish some unique, high quality content on your website that is relevant to the event you’re targeting.
Your first focus should be to create a dedicated landing page for your related merchandise and use your blog section to talk about any related events or promotions you’ll be running.
You might also want to consider publishing your own take on the event. This could include your predictions for the games ahead or creating an infographic or video looking back at the top ten moments in the event’s history – the possibilities are endless.
Closer to the time you’ll start to see hashtags trending about the sporting event you’re targeting.
Twitter shows you its trending topics on its site, which are usually transferable to Facebook, Instagram and even Pinterest.
You can also use services like trends24.in, talltweets.com/trends, trendsmap.com and whatthetrend.com which give you data for trends in the areas you’re trying to target.
Create relevant, creative and punchy tweets with a link to the most appropriate content you have, and use the hashtag to potentially get your message seen by a huge audience.
You can even use related hashtags to pick up on obscure but hyper-relevant conversations:
Just don’t spam any hashtags; social media users will see it as poor etiquette and besides, being put off your brand altogether, you could get your account suspended.
You will of course need to plan your stock and sale schedules ahead of each event that you plan to target.
Forecast what your most popular products are likely to be and be prepared to sell smaller items at a discounted rate to maximise add-on purchases.
With safety, stock and additional storage requirements around big events, many retailers cover their seasonal inventory outlays with small business finance.
Expect to find yourself with leftover stock once an event is done and dusted. Besides allocating some space for your clearance rack, plan ahead on how you can shift it all in a timely and efficient manner.
For generic products that can go straight back into the mix, great. For stock that you won’t need for the foreseeable future but could use for the same event again next year, weigh up the money you’ll save by buying it again versus the money and space you’ll lose from holding it in storage.
You could also upload your items onto an excess inventory marketplace like boxfox.co where independent retailers are able to sell their excess stock to buyers.
After the sporting event is over and you’ve exhausted all your options selling your merchandise, be sure to spend some time evaluating how well (or not) it went for you.
If the return on investment was worth the time and effort, you might want to focus on the same event next time it comes around.
If not, experiment with different events and displays until you figure out what works best for your store.