What 10 Creative Retailers Are Doing Now to Attract Customers Back to Stores

creative retailer

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Attracting customers is a never-ending process for any business. Retailers, in particular, are anxious to look for new local store marketing ideas because direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands are targeting their formerly loyal customers through social channels.

Price and promotion levers that once were used to draw shoppers in have lost their steam as most consumers know that “once in a lifetime,” “Super Saturday,” or friend and family sales are like busses. There’ll be another one coming shortly.

While thinking I need more customers is natural, that misses the bigger problem. Why aren’t you converting more lookers to buyers from people already in your store?

To do it, you must be out on the sales floor. You need to know where you're losing sales. Just reading a spreadsheet or having an app tell you what sales you made doesn't convey the whole story. You need to observe what's going on the floor.

If you're a senior-level executive, you must be on the sales floor on the weekend, at least once a month. And if not, you're just flying blind because you will believe whatever somebody brings into your back office. "Oh, it's all about contactless payment. It's all about curbside."

That would be like the hit musical Hamilton promoting, "Oh, you can get our tickets by fax or email, or we can hold them at the box office.” No, what Hamilton promotes is, "We know you can't get tickets. We’re opening up more, and we’re launching a new tour. We're excited to be coming to your city."

Large retail chains have failed worldwide. Is it a surprise that smaller stores can finally breathe?

No, but we have got to get back to driving demand.

When curbside pickup, driven by the pandemic and fear of going into the store, disappeared for many retailers and the need to find creative ways to bring shoppers back increased, I asked my fans to share some of their favorite methods to attract customers. Here are some of the best, and without discounting...

How to Attract Customers Back to Your Store

Create your own YouTube Channel

Eli J. Gurock created a YouTube channel to educate people about his company, Magic Beans, and its products and business. The channel creates tremendous goodwill, and viewers reciprocate by shopping.

He shared a recent customer comment on a post, "Baby is due in June - I'll be buying the Nuna Pipa RX from your store because you deserve the business for this awesome video! Helping me a ton with the first-time dad-to-be jitters."

Hold a live Shopping Event

Heidi West of Lifestyles of Saratoga noted that they started with Facebook and Instagram videos. Still, when they did a live shopping event where customers could click and buy products they were discussing right on their screen, it really took off!

To do that, go through Facebook “Live shopping” in the Facebook live producer and use an external camera. Then, have your products in a Facebook shop that links to your website.

Show scarcity

Jennifer Backus of Jenn's Java shared her neighborhood marketing success "during the initial lockdown, we posted 'Dessert Drops' with pictures of desserts as we cut them in the store. People would message us to reserve items and then grab their assortment at the end of the day. Thankfully we've been able to stay open for at least pick up through the entire experience. It was wildly successful."

Find novelty with mass appeal

Debbie Sue brought locally grown heart-shaped cucumbers in Alberta, Canada. “I special ordered them as a novelty item for Valentine's week at our garden center—posts, videos, sharing customers stories on Instagram. Value added. Literally, no other retailer has these." 


Direct mail a print catalog

Jon Stiles wanted to ensure that his customers knew that The Party Source could be a solution for their gift-giving, so he printed and mailed a few thousand first-ever catalogs.

The marketing maneuver generated $500K in new business and opened up a new part of his gift basket business that will produce over 1M in sales in 2021. Here's a link to the catalog.

Change Your Google Listing

Linda Pasco added categories and changed the name they used in the local phone listing and on Google to reflect who they are and what they sell more adequately.

Lemon Grass Gifts had bath, baby, and home attached to the name - now they sell more home accessories and furnishings, so they have changed to home, garden, and gift and added furniture and custom decorating to their listings.

Hold a socially distanced event at your local movie theater

Holly Hamilton Dorgan of H2Design & Co. rented their local theater to stage a Galentine’s Chick Flick Movie Night. They involved a local winery to supply some wine, a florist to supply flowers, and a restaurant for some sweet treats.

Send personal texts and cards to the best customers

Robin Rivers Jeffs of Molly's Meanderings sent "a personal text to a dear customer who loves butterflies and Brighton. Her husband bought the bag for her as a Valentine's gift, retail price $575."

"Besides social media, I know my customers and send them pictures of what they love. Equals sales. I always write personal cards. Sent a private gift. Sent love. Love is the best and personal attention. It's sincere, never a gimmick. I know you understand that."

Broadcast from your mart

Sidra McWhorter of Sweet Pea's Boutique did a Facebook live from one of her trips to the markets, demonstrating the product along with the owners. Net result? She sold 92 teeth whitening kits at $119 each and is still selling more in-store.

Capture customer interest in the moment with text by Podium.

Deb McShane said their biggest change has been using the Podium messaging software to capture that "new opportunity" business with those finding their jewelry store online or having questions about an item or service. “Podium has made an immediate follow-up, sending photos and quoting prices so simple, and the best news is that it is a store messaging system. Anyone on staff can see exactly what is happening so we are all on the same page.”

I've been a paid influencer for them, and you can find more about Podium here. 

Betsy Lonergan chimed in about being available to answer questions through a chat box on their websites. “It’s been a great resource for my team to make and build new relationships (foot traffic is still way down), and we’ve definitely closed some great leads through this new feature. We’ve simultaneously halted most of our promotional discounts.”

One thing that surprised me from my Facebook responses was this post from Mike...

“Is there such a thing as being too busy to want to attract new business?”

Carol said, “I feel this often, then I realize it's a mindset thing. Make the necessary changes to allow more business.”

I have heard this more and more lately that people are too busy. What that says to me is Hire more People!

Shoppers who go out of their way to come to your store deserve an exceptional experience.

That is if you want to see next year.

In Sum

Attracting customers takes great visual merchandising, creative use of social media, and innovative use of how customers interact with you on the web, via email, and text. Use these current tips to help you rebuild your customer base.

But remember, no one ever raved about average.

Building word-of-mouth buzz around your brand requires training your crew to open their hearts to strangers, actively listening to what they say, and finding ways for them to buy what you have to sell.

Miss that, and you’ll be stuck as a transactional retailer “selling stuff” versus a relationship retailer bonding with different humans unlike yourself but their trusted brand.

And if you’d like help with how to do that and are committed to doing the hard work of training frontline associates to engage a wary public, you should check out my online retail training program, SalesRX, which is trusted by thousands of users.

SalesRx features 120+ lessons designed to target and optimize your sales team’s skills in areas like:

  • How to Greet a Customer
  • Building Rapport and a Remarkable Connection
  • Listening to Your Customer
  • Presenting Features and Benefits of Products
  • Handling Objections and Getting the Sale
  • How to Close the Sale
  • How to Add on to the Sale
  • And so much more!

This is your opportunity to elevate your business - don’t miss it!

Learn More About SalesRX