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Bright Ideas to Boost Summer Showroom Traffic

Founder of Retail Minded Nicole Leinbach Reyhle shares her tips for bringing the crowds in.

Christine Book
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Photo from Pexels.com, Kaique Rocha

Ah, the good ol’ summertime. Longer days, rising temps, and slower traffic — on the roads and in your showroom — are enough to bring on a case of the summertime blues. Have no fear, says one industry thought leader. Retail Minded founder, and recognized retail thought leader, Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, sheds light on creating experiences that can boost in-store traffic over the coming months. An enterprising state of mind can serve you as well as your favorite waiter. Try this: serve up something special.

“The most obvious way to boost summer traffic: Give them a reason to come in,” recommends Reyhle. No longer can it just be “come look at our product.” Consumers want to be entertained, so celebrate the season for “shoppertainment.” As Reyhle sees it, showrooms have the opportunity to indulge customers with ideas, products, and experiences. “You’re enlightening them on your inventory, but also getting them excited about doing things they may not have considered in your showroom.”

How? Think outside the box. The right event for the right audience. Invite a certain vendor to come in. Or, introduce a non-competitive but complementary business over. Maybe a kitchen design firm local to your marketplace comes in and gives a talk to your customers. “Five Kitchen Updates on a Dime” or “Best reading lights for Book Clubs.” Reyhle urges showrooms to find a way to cater to your audience and their unique interests. Whether budget is a concern for customers, or luxury is more important, spin it from there. As Reyhle sees it, “The idea is creating opportunities for customers to say ‘Yes, I need to not only experience this, but I can learn from it, benefit from it, get social with it, and I want to invite my friends to join me.’ These opportunities can bring more visibility to your showroom in summer.”

Collaboration is key. But the key to the collaboration, says the Retail Minded founder, is introducing likeminded, yet non-competitive businesses to the mix. The benefits are mutual and multiple. What you are both doing is extending an invitation to both audience of customers. So you have the chance to get new customers into that experience, which is always key. Also, this boosts customer retention, by provoking excitement among existing clients whose visits are down as temps rise. Bring on the buzz.

As far as event planning goes, take note: The strategy cannot just be “let’s have an event, people will come!” Instead, effort must be made to layer it. Vital: social media, email marketing, in-store promotion leading up to the event, post-event excitement, sharing photos and reviews. For those who came, it’s fun to share good times, and those who didn’t ask, “What did I miss?” Next time, they’re in. There are many benefits from hosting events. The problem she sees is when owners get lost in the idea of hosting, but not figuring out “How does this event go beyond our four walls?”

Online visibility drives traffic, even inside. Select multiple channels and generate attention. Consumers often start that omnichannel path to purchase online, according to the Retail Minded thought leader. Because that path to purchase often starts on social media, you have to make regular updates online in order for people to get provoked to purchase. Omnichannel is a strategy that showrooms need to introduce into their marketing outreach, said Reyhle. Showroom owners shouldn’t be intimidated by the fact that it is overlapping with online. Online does not only mean selling online, it means also being visible online, and that’s a really important factor to consider.

“I think there is a lot of fear resonating with small business owners, and a lot of misunderstanding,” said the Denver-based enterpreneur. She sees owners often lack clarity to understand the dynamics of how customers shop. This is critical to understanding the dynamics of how you need to operate your showroom. Because of that, showrooms need to be proactive in their efforts to engage the customer.

Lastly, know thy customer. Middle agers, baby boomers, millennials, retirees? “If all of the above, what are you doing to make sure you are giving each of those audiences the unique experience they’ll enjoy?” The reality is a 6 pm Happy Hour Showroom Experience (with a partnering business) is a great idea for one audience. But not all. The Ladies Who Lunch crowd? They’ll enjoy a more calm, mid-afternoon event. Have a local expert offer trends in entertaining (check out what Pinners are saying about the Pinterest Home Trends Report we shared recently).

It all comes back to connecting with customers. We know that with entertaining, lighting, and comfort, matters. The conversation flows to fixtures and furniture. This is another of many ways showrooms can bring more light, more visibility and more clarity to what your experience offers . When you make it about the experience, you play with emotions, and in a good way. When you trigger the customer emotion, you present opportunities to make customers more interested, more engaged and, ultimately, more inclined to spend both time and money with you this summer.

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