Never underestimate the power of communities, particularly in today’s retail landscape. In a time where shoppers can buy what they need with a quick click or tap of a button, brick-and-mortar retailers need to be creative to drive foot traffic. Today’s customers want to be entertained, they crave experiences, and they expect companies to go above and beyond to earn their loyalty. To meet these expectations, many retailers have turned to “Retailtainment” or experiential retail strategies. Experiential retail can benefit retailers of any size, with any budget.
In-store retail events are an excellent way to build community around your business, engage with customers, and generate revenue. In fact, according to the Event Marketing Institute, 87% of consumers claim to purchase a brand’s products after having attended one of their in-store events. Think big when planning your next in-store event. Plan to include discounts, music, food, drinks, giveaways, drawings, and free gift wrap. After all, the longer customers say in your store, the more they are likely to spend.
For an in-store event to be popular, it needs to align with what your customers are interested in. Here are some amazing event ideas that will engage and excite your customers:
VIP Customer Event
80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. Plan a time to invite just your very top customers to shop. This needs to be an invitation-only event. You want to let your VIP customers know how much you appreciate them.
Runway / Fashion Show
This event type works best for apparel and accessories. If you are bringing in fresh merchandise or a new product line, why not hold a runway show to showcase your items. Merchandise a “shop the look” section for customers to easily shop the shows featured outfits.
Mom & Mimosas
This type of event is great to host in early fall when kids start back at school. Schedules have slowed down a bit and with kids out of the house, market to moms that may have more time to shop during the day than they did previously. Offering mimosas is a fun way to get them in the door.
Sip 'n Shop / Ladies Night Out
This is a great time to collaborate with other local businesses. Invite all of the ladies to come shop with their girlfriends at a special after-hours event. It is a win-win for all the local businesses to work together.
We’ve all heard of “Ladies Night Out”, but you can also focus on the men in your area to buy gifts for the important women in their lives. Think about what would make shopping easier for men and offer those types of promotions or services. This is a great time to push gift cards, and even offer a promotion on gift cards that night. Don't forget to offer free gift wrapping on items purchased during the event as an added bonus. To entice men to come, offer beverages, snacks, and door prizes that they would want to win.
Bringing in a new line is exciting. Generate extra buzz around new arrivals with a launch party. Consider sampling products (if appropriate) and offering light appetizers or refreshments. A gift with purchase promotion is also a great way to get customers excited about a new line.
Self Care Sundays
Consumers have prioritized self-care amid the pandemic, giving rise to the growth of the $44.5 trillion global wellness market. Self-care spans many generations: 44% of millennials and 57% of baby boomers practice self-care. Hosting a Self Care Sunday Event can bring customers in your store. Consider hosting a yoga class, or partnering with a local nail salon and offering manicures, or find a local massage therapist and offer short chair massages.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Some stores show their support with merchandise and promotions honoring the cause. As October begins, shades of pink begin filling storefronts and over the past several years, the fashion and beauty industries have gotten in on the effort by selling specialty products. Consider promoting products that already give back to Breast Cancer Awareness or curating a collection of pink products you already have in-store.
Seasonal Decorating Classes
You create beautiful merchandising displays, so share your love and knowledge with customers by offering classes where they can learn how to use decorating essentials such as ribbon, florals, and accent pieces to create gorgeous designs - think everything from bow making to Christmas tree decorating. Remember to keep class sizes small to allow one-on-one time with each participant to ensure that key techniques are grasped.
Craft cocktails are all the craze! A Happy Hour event can showcase drink mixes and barware to show off all the ways your shoppers can easily entertain at home. Have ready-to-sip cocktail samples on hand, as well as a how-to demonstration time to show customers just how easy it can be to create amazing craft cocktails in their homes.
Cocktails, Charcuterie & Chat
Invite customers to an easy "cooking" class, where they can master the art of a beautiful charcuterie board. Customers will learn tips on sourcing and arranging a variety of meats, cheeses, crackers, fruits, and nuts for the perfect spread. Consider pairing with cocktail mixes and offering promotions on gourmet food and food gifts.
To align with the fall season, consider offering cooking classes in preparation for Thanksgiving. Highlight gourmet food and tableware items in your store. If you’re hosting a cooking class in December, consider focusing on baking.
Host a Meet & Greet
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 few hours, meet customers, sign memorabilia, or even give a demonstration depending on their line of work. Consider offering VIP or Early Bird tickets to maximize sales.
Run a Holiday Preview Sale on several collections, categories, or items to get your customers excited about the holiday season. Put together ready-to-gift products so that your store stays top of mind when it comes to shopping for their holiday gift-giving needs.
Small Business Saturday
Let your customers see your passion and help them understand why shopping small matters. This is not an event where you try to get rid of left-over holiday products from the previous year – customers want to see fresh new products. When offering promotions, be strategic about the products you choose, and highlight products with the best margins for BOGO deals and sale prices.
Ugly Christmas Sweater Day
Add some jolly to your busy season. Have all your employees dress up in their favorite ugly sweater and serve refreshments and Christmas cookies. You can add to the fun by adding a photo booth, hosting prize drawings, or offering a discount for everyone wearing a festive outfit.
12 Days of Christmas
This type of event takes a little more planning. You can run this event the first 12 days of December or the 12 days leading up to Christmas. Offer some kind of promotion every day for 12 days. Make sure to be strategic and choose products with your best margins for your promotions. This type of event can run both in-store and online.
Retail Events are Here to Stay
Experiential retail strategies aren’t a passing trend. In-store events have been around for a long time and they aren’t going anywhere. People will always have a desire for human connections, and retailers that can fulfill that need will thrive. When in-store events are well executed, they strengthen customer relationships while increasing sales.