Fall 2011
How can a specialty retailer drive traffic to the cart, kiosk or RMU?

Lori Lesko, Director of Real Estate at Calendar Club / Go! Toys & Games

Lori Lesko, Director of Real Estate at Calendar Club / Go! Toys & Games

Once you set up shop in a mall the cash register does not automatically start ringing sales. The real work is just beginning. Malls bring foot traffic but the retailer is responsible for converting the traffic into customers. There are a few key ways to drive traffic to your store and more important, build repeat business:

Customer Service: You can have the best location in the mall with an excellent product but without customer service, sales will suffer. Customers are pulled in every direction and there are many options vying for their money. They want to feel special. They want to know they are getting value and they want to be satisfied with their purchase. As a specialty retailer you need to make an impression and a good lasting impression in order to build loyalty toward your store. Be attentive to customers, demonstrate the product, be knowledgeable, listen and help them make a buying decision that is right for them. By offering a wonderful shopping experience you will build a reputation and will garner repeat business. Word-of-mouth and referrals are the best way to grow your business.

Mall Relations: Work with your mall management team. They have a vested interest in helping you succeed and become a long-term retailer. Become involved in mall events by providing giveaways or special discounts. Take advantage of mall advertising and promotions. Over time you will identify what works for your business. Malls offer a listing on their website, display cases, table tents, in-mall signage, sponsorships and a variety of advertising options. Get your name out there. By building a positive relationship with the mall team you will become a “go-to” person for them and additional marketing/networking opportunities will start to come to you. Be the retailer the mall wants to promote to their shoppers and who they want to work with, and they will refer others to do business with you too. All these things will drive traffic to your store.

Promotions: Everyone is always looking for a great value. You need to create a marketing plan with promotions and special offers. Also keep your merchandise fresh so shoppers come back often.

The Internet: In the past, it was difficult or costly to communicate promotions to a large audience. Social media has changed the way retailers and customers communicate. Learn how to navigate this digital world and build a plan that works for your business. Set up a Facebook account in order to communicate new products or promotions to your loyal customers. Post offers on the mall’s website site or Twitter page to reach out to an even larger target audience and find new customers. If your store has a unique name, it may be beneficial to invest in Google keywords.

The bottom line is: Don’t sit idle and think great things will happen. If you tend to your business, nurture it and learn from trial and error you can write your own success story.

Patrick Levesque, Director of Buckle It Up

Patrick Levesque, Director of Buckle It Up

Doing business on a cart or kiosk instead of an inline store gives us the tremendous advantage of not having to convince customers to come into our store just to see what we sell. As customers walk by, they see a big part of our inventory right away so if we cannot catch their attention when they just walk by, we are missing the boat.

Attractive displays with proper lighting, clean and neat kiosk displays, and most important, a smile, will draw customers. These are the must-haves to create a great first impression. We also show our popular products on a flat-screen television to catch the customer’s attention; an LED scroll shows a huge variety of the best buckles to catch the customer’s eye.

We also greet customers with a friendly welcome without being pushy, letting them know we are here to help them get what they want. After the first approach, if the customer does not tell us what they are looking for, it is crucial to give the customer some time to look at the products, without harassing them, and then I come back with a follow-up. Give customers confidence in your company and products by offering them a written warranty and a clear exchange/return policy. Offer a free gift box if they are purchasing the product as a gift . To make customers return, we are working on many projects including email lists; getting them to “like” us on Facebook and offering rewards for returning customers and referrals.

Linda Johansen-James, CEO/COO at American Kiosk Management, LLC

Linda Johansen-James, CEO/COO at American Kiosk Management, LLC

In today’s retail world it is important to remember that we as retailers must be active in driving traffic to our own businesses. You can start by taking advantage of in-mall marketing, i.e. being listed on the mall website, directory, customer service fliers, posters and table tents. You can also offer special discounts to mall employees. At American Kiosk Management, we take advantage of these tools and it accounts for 15% of our overall business.

Do you have a Facebook page, Twitter account or a company website? These tools can help you bring in new potential guests. But remember, you must stay on top of these sites and keep them new and updated. Do you have a VIP registry where you track your guest purchases and then email them with any new and exciting promotions to bring them back? If not, this is one of the fastest ways you can grow not only your existing business, but your referral business as well.

Lastly, how does your place of business look when a potential customer walks up to it? Is it warm and inviting? Does it represent your products in the best way possible? Is your merchandising clean, organized and does it fit your business concept? Do your employees model the products they are selling? In today’s business climate, we can no longer be “status quo.” We must be better than the best and we must embrace all the new, exciting channels that we as retailers have at our fingertips.

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