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Small Business Center

Opening a New Retail Location? Here’s How to Drive Word of Mouth and Traffic

March 8, 2022

By Francesca Nicasio, Vend
www.vendhq.com

So you’ve decided to expand to a new location. Congrats! Having multiple stores will enable you to widen your brand’s reach and get in front of new customers. But it’s important to remember that opening a new store isn’t one of those build-it-and-they-will-come scenarios. You can’t expect customers automatically to flock to your location when you open your doors. You need to do the legwork to spread the word and generate foot traffic. To help you do that, below are some ideas on how you can drive word of mouth and traffic for your new branch. Check them out:

Talk Up Your New Location Even Before It Opens

You need to build up hype even if your new store is still in the works. Talk up your store offline, on your website and via social media to raise awareness and keep your brand top of mind. Here are a few things you can do:

In-Store

If you’re opening a store that’s not too far from your existing shop, you could try to talk up your new location to existing customers. Have your associates casually mention it, when appropriate, so people are aware of the new branch. If you’re running any promotions around your grand opening, be sure to give people a heads up by mentioning it in-store or by putting flyers inside their shopping bags when they’ve made a purchase.

Get creative and try to incorporate your promotions into other elements of your existing locations. The restaurant Stacked, for example, promoted its upcoming branch by putting the announcement on its coasters.

Social Media

Post updates and photos of your soon-to-open store on social sites so your fans and followers know what’s up. Why not publish behind-the-scenes posts and give people a peek at what’s in store? You could also come up with a giveaway or promotion on social media to entice people to share your content with their friends. One company that does this well is the fashion retailer Shein. Whenever the company opens a pop-up store, the company talks it up on social media beforehand. Shein even encourages people to share using branded hashtags and giveaway like chance to win $1,000 worth of prizes for those who repost a video.

Email

Send out a special email announcement to give subscribers a heads-up that you’re setting up shop in a new location. Just make sure that you’re only sending these messages to relevant subscribers. Avoid sending these announcements to subscribers who don’t live around your new shop. Fortunately, sending out geotargeted emails is fairly simple if you have the right data. If you collect information on where your customers live, you easily can sort them using your customer relationship management system or email marketing solution and then set up the campaign accordingly.

Get Some Press Coverage

Try to get some press coverage around your new store opening. Your best bet here would be to get in touch with local media outlets and tell them you’re opening up a new store in the area. Why not invite them to your grand opening or, if you can, give them an early look at what you have planned. Having some trouble grabbing the attention of the press? You may want to rethink your pitch. Perhaps the plain new-store angle isn’t enough. If this is the case, you need to come up with a compelling story to pique the media’s interest. If you have an interesting story behind your business, consider sharing it. You could also emphasize all the great things that your store is bringing to the community. Are you creating jobs and reinvigorating the town? Make sure the media knows about it. Additionally, doing something bold at your grand opening could help you get the coverage you need. If you have any stunts planned or if a celebrity is attending your grand opening, see to it that the media is aware of what you have in store so they can give you the spotlight you deserve.

Make a Splash on Opening Day

Your grand opening should be a significant event, so invest the time to plan it. What’s your budget? What type of theme will your event have? Aside from purchasing stuff, what other activities can guests do at the event? These are just some of the questions you should answer when cooking up ideas for your grand opening.

There are plenty of logistics involved here, so you may want to create checklists and time lines to ensure that things go off without a hitch. Some of the things you should include:

  • financing the event
  • drawing traffic and interest via invitations, PR, marketing, advertising, etc.
  • aesthetics like themes, decor, window displays, fixtures
  • staffing
  • activities and experiences like photobooths, fashion shows, meet-and-greets with local celebrities
  • documenting the event with a photographer or videographer

Find a way to grab people’s attention on opening day. What can you offer that would compel shoppers to visit your store? The right answer to this will depend on your shop, but whatever you decide to do, make it irresistible. One example? When Jeni’s ice cream opened a pop-up shop in New York, the company gave away free ice cream to all guests who visited the shop on opening day. Naturally, this got people’s attention, and the store was a success. You could also combine multiple offerings and promos to really hook your guests.

When digitally native mattress brand Tuft & Needle opened its store in Glendale, California, it had plenty of things in store for guests.

Emulate the efforts for these retailers when you launch a new store. Don’t just open your doors and hope to attract guests; drive more people to your location by coming up with irresistible hooks.

Encourage Shoppers to Spread the Word

Boost word of mouth by encouraging your customers to help spread the word. Start with your most loyal patrons. Consider giving them incentives, such as invite-only events, and entice them to talk up your brand to their friends and followers. Also remind in-store guests to pin, post and share photos of your store and merchandise online. Leave hints, such as hashtag stickers, around your store to subtly promote social shares.

New York & Company has hashtag stickers in its dressing rooms to encourage people to post images of their outfits on Instagram.

Snowflakes, a dessert store in California, has special Instagram placemats that people can use when taking photos of their scrumptious-looking orders.

Increase Online Visibility

Cover all your bases when it comes to online directories to ensure that people can find you on the web. Start with Google, Yelp and Facebook. These websites get a lot of search engine love, which is why you should complete your business profiles on these sites as soon as you have your new location up and running. Add as many details as possible, including store hours and parking information, and include photos of your store.

Aside from getting listed in online directories, consider investing in search engine optimization or search marketing for your site or listing. A lot of shoppers conduct online searches to find and discover local establishments, so getting your store in front of these people can boost your traffic in-store and online.

For best results, showcase your inventory on your Google Business profile.

With 90% of consumers looking up business and inventory information online before heading to the store, giving your customers visibility into your product catalog gives them confidence that they’ll find what they need at your store. Ultimately, this will drive much-needed traffic and sales to your new location.

An excellent example of a Google Business Profile n done right comes from Total Rush, a bicycle store in Richmond, Australia. Not only does Total Rush’s’ Google Business Profile contain all the important details about the business, it also has a handful of customer reviews and lots of photos showing the inside and outside of the shop. In addition, the profile lists the products they have in-store so shoppers can verify their availability before heading out.

Try to get your Google profile and other listings to this level. Set up your Google Business listing and beef it up by adding lots of information, uploading high-quality photos and showcasing your inventory.

Bottom line

Opening a new store doesn’t guarantee foot traffic. You need to put in a lot of work to drive awareness and visits to your new location, so chuck that build-it-and-they-will-come attitude out the window and start putting the ideas above to action.

The article was originally published at www.vendhq.com.

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