Sandy Dell is a semi-retired independent sales rep sharing info about wholesaling, working with producers, buyers and sales reps.
Challenges for Gift Retailers
With the current economy, Gifts Shops are challenged at a greater rate than ever before. Marketing and sales techniques that worked last season, may not bring customers in at all this season! Keeping ahead of the curve is difficult especially while dealing with the day to day responsibilities of running a gift shop.
Working as an independent gifts sales rep for more than eight years, has given me a unique perspective on gift retailing that I would like to share with you.
Getting Personal with Your Customers
Trying to compete with the 'big box' stores is impossible, but you can win over customers with your personal service! Greeting customers as they walk in the door is a great way to break the ice while they are in your store, but what happens after they leave? Will they remember you? Having a customer email or mailing list is a great way to keep in touch with your customers. Ask your customers if they would like to receive information on coming sales and special offers. They will be more willing to give your their contact information if you explain the benefits they will receive by signing up for your mailing. In some cases, you can give a small gift to each customer who signs up for your email or newsletter list.
Email is the cheapest and easiest form of communications, but emails get lost, put in the junk mail, or are just plain ignored! Personally, I have found that direct mail newsletters receive the best response. Either way, you can add coupons or 'newsletter specials' to your correspondence. Once a customer comes to your store with a coupon, they will often buy more.
Another great way to get personal with your customer is with an annual birthday (or anniversary) sale. When collecting contact information, ask for the customer's birthday. A week before the day, send the customer a nice card with a special birthday coupon or gift item for them to pick up at your store. Customers will appreciate the extra time and work you do to honor them on their birthdays.
Have you ever sent thank you cards to your customers? Once a month, pick out a few customers and send them a card thanking them for your purchase. If you have customers who special ordered products, send them a thank you card. Customers become loyal to your store when you take the time to make them feel special!
Does Your Store Have a Website?
If you want to remaining competitive, you need a web presence. Too many consumers are turning to the web to find their gift items and if you are not on the web, your customers may buy elsewhere. You no longer need to be a html guru to set up your own website. Web template programs are becoming more and more popular, making it easier for the novice website owner to create their own web presence.
Blogging is another popular way to have a web presence and to keep in touch with your customers. Blogging software is free and user friendly --even for the novice blogger. Post once or twice a week featuring specials you are running, coming events, or new products you are offering in the store. And make sure to post your blog address on all your literature and business cards. Let people know that you want to keep in touch with them. You might be surprised how often your customers will read your bogs and keep in touch with you about products that are important to them.
Check Out the Retail Experts
There are many different resources you can read and subscribe to that are knowledgeable about the gift retail business.
One of my favorites is Rick Segel. Rick, author of the Retail Business Kit for Dummies, writes a week Retail Tip of the Week which is very interesting and informative. Sign up for his newsletter on his website: RickSegel.com.
Another of my favorite retail experts is Patricia Norins, the Specialty Retail Expert. No only does she write a great blog, but her website is filled with loads of great information and events. Patricia is also founder and publisher of Pinnacle Publishing Group. a publishing and tradeshow company dedicated to the retail industry. She also launched three magazines also dedicated to the retail industry.
I recently found a blog called Gift Business Owners Joyce Reid, the woman behind the business blog writes great strategies for creative gift entrepreneurs and gift business owners. Her home page post describes her gift shop readers as "Creative Entrepreneurs are open to new ideas, new thoughts, and new ways to grow their business."
Find Great Supplies for your Retail Shop
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More Retail Resources
For more informative resources, check out the resource sections on my website:
Some of the listing you will find are:
**Retailer's Software Systems
**Gift and Gourmet Trade Magazines
**Gift and Gourmet Industry Websites
**Retailer's Email Newsletters
**Retailer's Organizations and Associations
My Favorite Books on Starting and Running a Gift Shop
System Tools for Retailers
Ahdilarum on September 19, 2012:
Excellent information to share and will really helps a lot..