“If you build it, they will come”: Fiesta Craft’s Rob Trup on the retail experience

Retail can be tough at the moment. Customers are stepping less often into shops and their minds progressively retrained by the net sellers to think primarily about online shopping. Even if they do show up, some cheekily use you as a showroom simply to go away and order products on the web.

Despite this, we are seeing small and large shops “discovering” their big advantage over the online giants, and successfully staying in the game. (You may well be one of them, so you won’t need to read on!)

Big advantage? Well, no surprise, it’s you and your brilliant staff making real human engagements. But these days your people power needs to go beyond the friendly, attentive in-store service that you pride yourselves on.

It’s a two-fold process: First, rethink your shop as a destination by creating regular events and activities and then, use these events to grow your social media following and database. All GDPR compliant, naturally.

Best of all, toys are perfect for events. Celebrate your toys with a store party, hold arts and crafts sessions, board games nights, run demos, or even parent training… Ask suppliers to help support you with products. Local social media groups are a great way to spread the word before and after the event.

Experiences show that customers will buy what they have just tried (so make sure you have enough stock). Throw in a voucher and they’ll buy even more. Events draw passers-by into your shop, who you can then encourage to follow you too.

One of our customers has recently taken this all to a very ambitious level. Walk into one of their shops and, inexplicably, the front fifth of the store is plain empty. But if you’re there at the right time of the week it’s packed: kids making messy crafts, authors reading stories, teachers guiding parents. Parents and children have the products at the front of their mind, they are in the shop and they are ready to spend money.

Apart from the obvious sales on the day, parents enjoy a bit of respite while their children are engaged and meet other parents with similar aged children. This all creates a warm, emotional connection with your shop – one that will be sought out time and again.

There’s no denying that all of this takes a lot of effort on your part – and yes, another thing to add to your weekly task list. But built up over time, it really can help place your shop firmly in your customers’ hearts and minds when they next need you.

Drop me a line with your thoughts at Rob@ fiestacrafts.co.uk I would love to hear them.

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both ToyNews and Licensing.biz, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@biz-media.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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