Seize every opportunity

Daniel Todaro, managing director of field marketing agency Gekko, warns that in an ‘empty’ year, without World Cup or Olympics-style events to stimulate sales, retailers and manufacturers must make the most of opportunities such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and offer potential customers a compelling in-store experience

Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Bank Holidays, Back to School and Christmas are all key occasions for electrical retailers, as consumers hit the high street with the specific intention of buying something.

Traditionally, each year we’ll see the usual raft of short and sharp sales promotions around these events, designed to grab a few impulsive shoppers, with the main investment going towards a big summer campaign.

However, while retailers have been spoilt in recent times, able to piggyback off the World Cup, Olympics, Jubilee and Royal Wedding, 2013 offers next to nothing in comparison to get consumers excited. Therefore, this year it’s imperative that electrical stores make the most of those annual calendar hooks. The ‘empty’ summer of 2013 won’t give retailers the same sales drive, so they must capitalise elsewhere to create a special emphasis to drive sales.

Father’s Day in particular is looming and represents an excellent chance for electrical retailers to push the ‘dad’ market. Long gone are the days when a pair of socks or slippers would cut it, now it’s all about something he can use and enjoy like an iPod or Kindle Fire. A targeted marketing campaign with a timely promotion can provide the lure to get people through the door, while in-store staff can talk customers through the top products and drive the sales. Likewise, Back to School represents another key trading period with compulsory requirements for a demographic that is growing by the year.

The continuing recession in ‘empty’ 2013 means that naturally consumers will cut back and put off spending. Therefore, the lure of promotions around calendar hooks can encourage people to splash out on bigger-ticket items and white goods. Having an experienced and knowledgeable brand representative makes all the difference for the consumer. They not only help to find the right product to meet the individuals needs, but also improve customer service by supplying expert advice, driving standout within crowded categories.

It is now more usual to see modern demonstration in-store focused on ROI [return on investment] and ensuring a sales upswing from the activity rather than simply brand recognition. Furthermore, this brand experience in-store is often driven by staff trained to sell ancillary products, rather than a simple desire to shift the big-ticket items alone. Information and add-ons at the point of sale will also help to boost the average basket value, as customers look to purchase extras such as batteries and cases for products. In-store activity provides the opportunity to home in on an occasion like Father’s Day and make for a much more immersive and successful store experience for the shopper.

Both multiples and independents naturally stock more than just one brand alone and will be primarily concerned with providing service and impartial advice. With products often stocked in hundreds of locations, brands need to ensure the multiples charged with selling their wares are doing them justice. Knowing what the latest situation is out in the channel in real time is even more relevant and valuable on peak occasions such as Father’s Day.

Meanwhile, the slightest slip in standards around stock levels and availability can result in a lost sale within seconds. Likewise, the ability to respond to such issues and prevent them from arising is a big advantage both in terms of short-term sales and the overarching brand experience.

Ultimately, the customer journey remains paramount and its importance for brands can’t be ignored, especially when a promotion is linked to above-the-line comms activity. From first sight of the advertising campaign, that journey must be a seamless and consistent one. Premium brands in particular need to adopt a through-the-line approach to ensure sales are closed successfully at the point of purchase. The more sophisticated a product and the higher the value, the more vital it is that a representative is on hand to emphasise the full capabilities and value of the product. Without impartial guidance, cold feet could result in a consumer resorting back to a purchase decision based solely on the cheapest price.

With the continuing threat of customers using electrical stores as showrooms before they go online to buy, brands need to be savvy. Change customer’s minds about buying a gift online and offer them an experience and after-care that will get take them through to the tills rather than Amazon’s checkout. Within this year where opportunity to celebrate and push sales is sparse, electrical retailers must pull out all the stops.

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