Let’s start with the most difficult – traffic
Traffic largely depends on criteria you do not control at all:
- desirability of the brand
- desirability of the product
- place of the boutique
- socio-cultural and socio-economic factors
Remembering the circle of influence – which one of the above do you control? – precisely: none.
Hands on Boutique Management to drive traffic
Nevertheless, there are actions you can undertake in order to influence traffic and these actions depend on the 4 keydrivers you effectively do control:
Boutique Visual Identity – use your windows as ambassadors to the brand – make eyecatching displays, according to your VM guidelines. Show the entire range from entry price to the highest prize. Keep them in perfect condition – anything wrong in your exterior windows will prevent people from entering, anything perfect will invite them.
Stock Management – nothing
- Target follow up and communication:
Announce figures in your monthly meeting
- Floor organization:
Ensure that always someone is available to greet customerentering the boutique
Ensure that sales associates are not gathered in groups and not chit chatting
Open-door policy where possible
- One to One:
Review individual CRM-actions
Individual action plans building and target fixinng
- Improve the visibility and access to the boutique (address in local supports)
- develop your network locally: partnership with hotels, clubs, tour operators, tourist office, …
- use your clients network
- ensure promotion of the website, facebook, twitter, instagram and other social media channels
- brain storm with your team on networking
- identify best practices of your competition and other industries (hospitality, fashion, watch, car, …)
Tactics for driving traffic
If you happen to have an open minded digital department, ideally with a strong local consciusness it would be way easy to drive traffic. The effectiveness though depends on your target group, the product and the degree of digitalisation in your place…
Below are 6 options that ideally could be used to drive awareness and traffic in store.
I have excluded email marketing as you are, or should be, quite against it – albeit it is the most efficient means of converting traffic (at least in e-commerce).
Most of these actions have little cost implications or at least are scalable in terms of investment. The Google advertising is something that all companies should be doing to drive traffic to their boutiques. Bottom line, everyone should be investing in search engine advertising throughout the year – ideally minimum spend 100k € strategically per country, placed on specific keywords and date ranges.
Up until now, the focus from management of classical retail companies has been print advertising, so most of the time the digital budget it not funded properly but that will change very soon.
- Google Places registration
Timeline one month
Means that Boutique Address data is presented in Google more prominently
- Google advertising:
Pay Per Click: Targeted key word advertising based on geo-location & keywords
Adsense – banner advertising distributed to targeted websites/communities
To get this up and running one needs to work with closely with the local marketing team and to put together a plan with e.g. Zenith optimedia
Posts targeting specific locations & people – with a clear call to action “visit us at…”
Facebook advertising – Targeted advertising based on demographic customer data and their “likes”
(Budget is capped and spread across the lifetime of the advertisement – with little money you can create a big effect)
Posts on Instagram on behalf of the boutique, by you or the gatekeeper…
Content should be products in the boutique – display cases with product etc.
Provide the text “visit XY boutique to see these products
- Twitter advertising:
Similar in approach to the Facebook advertising but with some subtle differences relevant to the channel
Targeted messages designed to drive awareness and traffic
- Use the concierge/callcenter if you have any:
RSVP to book an appointment with the boutique (in-case you have a high volume of calls and timewasters the concierge acts as a filter)
The above depends on the maturity of the company, the understanding of digital of its employees and the state of mind of their workeforce. It is recommended to find individual solutions for individual markets, boutiques, people – as especially Social media depends on a strong local bounding between brands and people. – As stated in the cluetrain manifesto:
Markets are conversations and social media works like a local market best, even for the price of diluting brand communication on the main channels.
Today’s retail business models have collapsed, are collapsing right now or will collapse very soon – you may choose where within the catastrophy you and your company are located.
Now, not everything should be blamed on e-commerce, internet prices, grey markets, etc.
A big portion of this poisonous development is homemade by the wrong retail strategies.
Instead of ensuring sales associates to focus on building relationsships they focus on transactions. Customer retention rates are low and dropping as there is no more real relationship with the local customer, when stores are empty, staff stands around, yet there is quite some things to do…
Today’s focus also is elsewhere, even though sales people are one of the biggest cost factors if not productive. Despite this the focus of management often lies in easily to be compiled and measured activities, like Marketing and advertising, whereas the biggest investment is not properly used. -The people in the points of sale.
Please find hereunder some possible activities to occupy your bored sales people in a good way for them and the company:
Unleash your systems
Give sales associates powerful mobile devices to build relationships not to execute sales transactions!
Today the store equipment is designed to optimise the sales process – it should be designed to easy to a maximum the use as a customer relationship building tool!
Educate, allow and push salespeople to use all relevant communication tools to build relationships – educate them to use them intelligently and respectfully.
Why do salespeople use their private devices? – Because it is easier for them to do so.
Forget email marketing – do you read the local discounter’s weekly folder in your physical mailbox? No? – So why should you then read the luxury mail of the luxury brand in your innbox? – All brands spam.
Instead let your sales associates endorse your customers and prospects with simple relevant messages on the communication channel of their choice. A main downer to collect data in Europe, which has been proved in surveys, is “aggressive asking for data and aggressive use of data” – people just do not want to be contacted by robots but by people they relate to – a robot being any form of not individualised communication.
The higher the spending of a customer in your boutique, the less he should be contacted with unpersonalised messages.
Because: The more he spends with you the more likely it is that he also purchases with other companies, the more likely it is he is bombed with invitations and spam and the more sure you can be he values a personal relevant relationship with real people, who know him.
Share the data you keep from your customer with your customer occasionly in order to give him the power on his data. You will be astonished that in doing so you do not shock them but you will generate updates and create more trust in your relationsships.
This step appears risky, but in fact it is not. All you do you give a person the right to decide on which basis he wants to do business with you. In times of social media and open communicationit is key to be relevant and honest in order to engage with your customer
Of course this is only for brands, who operate with full integrity and courage.
Do not understaff
If you do not have enough staff, during peak times the experience will be catastrophic, instead of extraordinary.
Instead empower staff, so that during low frequency times, they can be productive in cultivating prospects and pampering existing customers.
Ensure that staff contact details are shared transparently everywhere where necessary, especially on invoices.
Teach your employees to present their credentials in an inspiring trustbuilding way, the more trust is established there, the more easy it will be to build a relationship with the person you are dealing with, even if the person does not want to share her/his details
Kill generic store cards.
Keep relationships running
When someone leaves, immediately reassign the relationship and use this moment to reconnect the customer with the boutique. Often relationships die, because noone takes care. This frustrates customers big time, because in reality the relationship is with the brand, whose face is the sales associate. The result of this is the turnong away of the cusrtomer, not because of the leaving of “his” sales associate, but because of the unilateral “divorce” by the company
Talk to the tourist
Tourists, better global citizens, today are shopping everywhere on the planet, have several “homes” and feel attracted to several cities. How certain can you be today that your non permanent resident customer is treated the same way than your permanent resident one?
I mean are you even aware of it, or do you live in assumptions with your tourists.
Create global programs to link customers to other boutiques and to various activities within the brand – creat virtual long-lasting relationships.
In today’s global digital marketplace, there are no excuses for treating tourists as one-time purchasers and losing great customers. Building long-term relationships with tourists pays off in increased revenue across the brand’s multi-channel global network.
Allow your happy customers and prospects to bring their friends to you and to live perfect experiences in your stores.
Educate your sales associates to do so and nuge them into it. Create also boutique activities allowing exactly that: new prospects and customers at a relatively low marketing cost.
To bring family and friends somewhere, absolute trust into the place and the people is an absolute must.
The best store managers are coaches not managers!
Use metrics to assess, inspire and lead your teams to relationship building successes on a daily basis.
Minimize Back-office work and maximise networking and relationship building
Create company mail adresses
Ever considered to create an company email accounnt for your customer? Like this he could in the extreme generate a set of contact points that he easily could delete if he felt so without him sharing his real data.
Technology is extremely important in today’s retail environment, but it is a commodity that is evolving into a utility. Implementing CRM and VRM systems will do very little without the human beings who utilise these tools to build lasting customer relationships.
Hope you enjoy! – Happy Sales