Most retail businesses fall into one of two categories. You’re either a destination store, where customers will purposefully make the journey to visit your store, or you’re a convenience based store where customers may call in because it’s on their route or fits in with other plans.
Large shopping centres typically have at least one of these destination ‘anchor’ type outlets, and they contribute to the appeal of the mall and encourage consumers to consider a trip based on entertainment value rather than just to purchase goods. A great example of this is how IKEA has transformed furniture buying from the MFI days.
Positioning a retail business as a destination store requires careful planning. Typically larger shops build this positioning based on a combination of huge range or discounted pricing, both of which may be difficult for you to compete with, but smaller outlets can also become destination / experience stores by using these tools:
Always have something happening in your store. Schedule something for every single day, whether it’s product sampling, demonstrations or supplier talks. Is there a way customers can try your products for themselves before purchasing? Look for example at Bose audio equipment, sold primarily via mail order, Bose have in recent years started retail stores following the Apple model – all the stock is hidden away and the customer areas are focused on demonstrations backed up by great customer service. Consider your customer base and also think about whether they might visit with their children. As a child, visiting a large hardware chain was always exciting because of the aisle where you could try the different doorbells. Most annoying for the staff I’m sure, but it meant that I wanted my parents to visit the store.
Not all business models work with having a café add-on but you’d be surprised how many stores would benefit from having a refreshment counter or a small seated area, whether this offers high quality coffees or full lunchtime meals.
Garden centres are often great examples of how add-on services can create destination stores where visiting is an enjoyable experience. Almost all now feature a café but others have children’s play areas or creches, gift wrapping services, entertainment and many other things going on to draw in the crowds. Have a creative session with your team inviting ideas for add-on services that might work for you.
The internet is full of advice but nothing is more powerful than someone looking you in the eye and giving you the facts. Try to keep your advice factual and impartial and leave the decisions in your customers’ hands. Ensure your team are well trained and get regular educational updates on your products, your industry and its wider effect on consumers, including relevant areas of the law.
By stocking the latest trends in your industry you can become known locally as the innovator and consumers will be keen to visit and get their hands on the latest thing. And they’ll tell their friends where they bought it!
Most town centres have a BID partnership and whether this is included within your rates or something you are paying extra for, you want to get value for money. Meet with the group leaders and perhaps encourage them to work on promoting your town centre as a destination town and get them to showcase the range of independents on offer.
People have a choice between purchasing online or spending on petrol and parking and giving up time to visit a retailer – and it’s more important than ever to make their journeys worthwhile.