The main event

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As we approach what promises to be another ‘Summer of Sport’, retailers should remember that John Lewis saw revenues increase 8.6 per cent in the quarter including the 2012 Olympics, thanks both to its own sponsorship of the event and increased sales of third-party brand products who were also sponsors.

Whether large or small, all retailers have an opportunity to use a major sporting event to drive shoppers into store and convert them into customers. Be creative.

Here, I would like to suggest five steps to ensure your store is ready to get the most from this year’s sporting festivities.

Prepare

  • Find out who the sponsors are and which of your product categories will be seeing a potential boost, helping you to prepare by prioritising your planning to focus around the key categories.
  • Although there will be a lot of above-the-line (ATL) campaigns running during the summer, 44 per cent of consumers are not convinced by ATL alone, preferring instead to buy tech and CE products they have seen advertised, in store.
  • Brainstorm ideas to think of innovative ways to engage shoppers, and potential in-store events. Engage your staff with this, as they will likely have some great ideas from their time already spent with customers.
  • Think about asking brands for extra staff in preparation for the busy summer period – will you need more people to run your in-store events and create the customer experience you desire?
  • It seems obvious, but make sure you have enough stock of your main items. None of the events you plan will mean anything without the right stock.
  • Get ahead of the game – rather than waiting for the events to begin, make sure you’re prepared in terms of p-o-s etc. If needed, ask for support from your suppliers who will be running promotions of their own.
  • Use your event sponsor brands logos in your local advertising as an eye-catching link to your promotions and in-store experience.

Train

  • Make sure your staff are knowledgeable on your key product ranges, which may see a boost around the event. With 87 per cent of shoppers commonly asking for assistance in-store, and 36 per cent regularly influenced by advice offered by a staff member, your promotions and product demonstrations will only be effective if your staff can confidently speak to customers about the products and how they meet their needs.
  • Just as you’ll be using demonstration models to engage with shoppers, let your staff have a play with the products, allowing them to understand the unique features and selling points first-hand.
  • Make sure your staff are trained to support all customers coming into your store, regardless of their interest in the sporting events. The last thing you want is for a non-sports fan to be put off by the football-centric sales pitch of your staff. A general approach with good product knowledge will assist sales across all demographics, and aim to sell through the range to match budgets and needs.

Set targets

  • Work out what return of investment you want and set your sales priorities accordingly. Putting on a variety of events and promotions is a great way to engage with shoppers, but most importantly it needs to make financial sense before committing any funds.
  • Make sure your staff know what target they should be aiming for. Without cooperation between the sales office and the shopfloor, you’re not going to see the results you’re aiming for. It’s a team effort.
  • An incentive for increasing sales may help to motivate staff. Perhaps a sales league or a prize for most attachment sales will encourage your staff to join in with the promotions. It’s not just about exciting your customers – get your staff involved to build team spirit and make your store a fun and engaging environment for consumers. Ask brands to support your incentives.

Promote

  • Make window displays and p-o-s visible and branded to reflect any brand ATL campaigns. Brands increase their use of outside advertisement around large sporting events. For example, it increased by 25 per cent during the Olympics in 2012, according to Media Week. This is especially the case for sponsors of large events, so use the brand recall created by these adverts to your advantage, especially if a large outdoor ad space is in sight of your store.
  • Vary the offers you’re running across a sporting event. If there’s an important stage of the competition, such as Super Saturday at the Olympics or a Home Nation match, tailor your promotions and p-o-s to reflect this, rather than just having a generic message. Some variety will help keep your promotions fresh and will continue to entice customers into your store.
  • Get involved on social media. Virtually all the big brands will be getting involved with the official hashtags and messages. Join in online to further engage with customers away from the shopfloor, quoting brand tweets with your store details and promotions. During the 2012 Uefa tournament, 61 per cent of all the social media engagement over the group stage was with the top three sponsors, including the mobile network Orange.This is a huge following that you can tap into. Likewise, although not a sponsor of the 2014 World Cup, Nike was still able to reach more consumers through its social media offerings than the official sponsor Adidas – mainly because of Nike’s smart strategy of jumping on the back of the official hashtags with their own clever campaigns. You can do the same, tweeting and using Facebook to join in with the official social media campaigns.

Customer experience

  • Create engaging demonstration areas to inspire the consumer and allow them to interact with your products. Almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of consumers like to shop in-store because it allows them to experience the product before buying – a service they cannot get online. This first-hand product experience allows consumers to imagine it in their home and converts them from interest shoppers into buyers.
  • Make your store part of the wider experience – make the customer a part of the action by involving them as much as possible, whether through demonstrations or competitions and the like. Having some relevant p-o-s isn’t enough to excite shoppers, but building on their excitement by creating an engaging shopping experience will complete the customer journey through from above-the-line adverts to the shopfloor.
  • Ensure that any demo units are fully working. Shoppers need to see how devices work to know if they’re right for them, so ensure they are web-enabled and linked to other products to provide a truly complete demo. With 70 per cent of consumers saying a demonstration could tempt them to spend up to a third more. This could mean the difference between an entry-level and higher-price-point sale.

For more please visit: http://ertonline.co.uk/opinion/the-main-event/

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