If you make a customer’s trip to your store a memorable and enjoyable one, they will visit more often. Making your business welcoming and inviting will not only result in shoppers spending more money in the first place, but it will also encourage them to keep coming back.

According to Nick Shanagher, managing director of Newtrade Publishing, using in-store theatre effectively is vital for retailers, whether this be using point-of-sale material to grab shoppers’ attention or putting up signs and posters to help people easily navigate their way around your store.

Two shopkeepers who also recognise the importance of in-store theatre are Ananta and Harish Haria, who run Haria Newsagents in Wimbledon, South-east London. The 1,600sq ft shop has been in the family for almost 30 years and sits next to the local pharmacy, which Harish has run for 40 years.

With a strong focus on greetings cards, top-of-the-range chocolates and children’s gifts and books, Harish and Ananta have kept a close eye on the way they have promoted these services and goods to regular and passing trade, including a total refit for the business seven years ago.

To help independent retailers understand in-store theatre better, Nick paid a visit to Haria Newsagents to see how the couple are pulling the customers in – and what could be improved to generate more sales and footfall.

Top Tips

  • Be clear about the message you want to get across to customers. You need to do something special to make it clear to your customers what you sell from the outset.
  • As soon as a customer enters the store, there needs to be signage to help drive them around it.
  • Stand at your front door and look at the landscape of categories in your shop. You need to look at what the customer sees, and work out whether they would be tempted to walk around to the different sectors of your store.
  • Understand point-of-sale material and make sure it offers a call to action to your customers. It’s a good idea to spend time looking at what the larger stores in your area are doing and taking some of those tips back to your store.

1 Use PoS materials in your windows and promotional areas to highlight new products and special offers

The first thing Nick notices is the signage outside, which tells customers what the store offers. The awning over the door makes clear the store is a “destination” and offers a range of quality products. However, he adds, some of the older signage in the window doesn’t back this up.

“The advertising display in the window is very impressive, but an old sign advertising Hello magazine and a sign warning customers not to park on the road outside for too long aren’t hugely welcoming,”
he says.

Mr Haria says that the sign is needed, as drivers sometimes take advantage of the parking spaces outside. Nick believes that the wording could be changed to make the sign feel less aggressive.

The PoS material needs to shout more, says Nick. For example, a “poundzone”, offering a range of laundry products, is a great idea, he says, but the message needs to be communicated better.

“The shelf-edge labels you’ve made here are good, but could be better,” says Nick. “You should really shout more about this particular area. More signage and an offering on the gondola ends would be great.”

2 Create a calendar of events, including sporting fixtures, community activities and music festivals as the basis for creative displays

During Christmas and Easter the Harias put up a table offering seasonal goods near to the front of the store. This is something that works well in terms of attracting extra trade, says Harish.

With the store offering an extensive range of gift cards, focusing on key events throughout the year is key to the success of the store.

And with Father’s Day approaching, Harish is constructing a display involving PoS material sent by one of the card companies that supplies him. More needs to be made of this, Nick believes.

“The PoS material isn’t terribly eye-catching,” he says. “Nothing is going to drive people to think that they need to purchase these particular products. You’ve got a good range of cards and gifts here, so you need to shout about it more.”

Harish says he is thinking about possibly doing something around the World Cup in a similar way to Easter and Christmas – but only if he can find products available on sale or return. “All of our cards and gifts are on sale or return, which is vital to me because otherwise, if I can’t sell it, I’m losing money.”

3 Ensure that displays are kept fully stocked, clearly priced and with products placed correctly

The store is well merchandised, but one thing that Nick notices is that every product has an individual price sticker on it.

“We want to advertise our prices to pull in any passing trade,” says Harish. “We put prices on everything to ensure that they know they’re getting value for money.”

Advertising the price has its value, says Nick, but more needs to be made of the exclusivity some of the products the Haria’s have on offer, such as those found in their chocolate range.

“You need to make more of your exclusive range of products, and promote those that aren’t sold in the supermarkets,” says Nick. “I would question why you need to put a price sticker on every one though.

“The one thing that could help promote the range is increasing the signage to help drive customers to this particular area. You need to create more excitement.”

For more store galleries go to See My Shop

See more of Harish’s store below