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It isn’t just the large stores that have a monopoly on the advertising budgets in your area. Shouting about your store – both internally and externally – can help you to win new customers who may not be aware of exactly what you can offer them, and keep existing shoppers happy as they may find extra areas of your store that they might not have previously explored.
Shailes Patel, whose Londis store sits in the middle of the King’s Road in Chelsea, London, realises this. Having owned his business for 35 years, he knows his customer base inside out, and caters for it accordingly.
Shailes has a range of more than 2,000 magazines to complement a huge selection of foreign newspapers and periodicals, something that he is known for not only in his local area, but also from much farther afield. But he doesn’t rest on his laurels and each month sends out a leaflet detailing the offers that he has in store.
It’s not just the special offers that keep people coming back to Shailes’ store though, as Graeme Collins of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents found out on a visit to his shop for the IAA.
Try to improve the external awareness of your store. Let customers know what you are offering in-store that they might not see at first glance as they walk in, or that they might not know they need as they walk past.
Shout about the different parts of your store. Attract people towards fixtures at the back of your store by making displays such as greeting cards visible from the front of the store. Introducing signage to direct customers around the store is a good idea.
Using posters, hanging signs and other point-of-sale material to indicate different sections of your shop is important. Marketing to customers starts in store, so making it easy for customers to find what they want is key.
1 Know the various customer profiles of your store
Shailes’s magazine range reflects his upmarket location. Among his 2,000-strong range are a large number of coffee table and specialist titles that reflect his clientele. He adds that he also gets a lot of children in store – highlighted by the range of children’s titles that he stocks.
“I’m pleased that Shailes has the Hot Spot promotional material on shelf,” says Graeme. “Because the range is so big it’s very difficult to make it look pretty, but he is really making the most of what he’s got available to him.”
The glamorous location isn’t the only reason for the cosmopolitan customer base, says Shailes. “We get a lot of builders in to the store, and our food-to-go section and foreign newspapers cater for those.
“I’m going to organise for a range of leaflets to be dropped at local building sites, advertising what we have in store for them. Things like a cup of tea for 70p, and freshly made sandwiches.”
The other key component in the customer base of the store is the student halls that sit nearby. Shailes says that his range of other goods caters for this.
“We open from 6am till 2am, and we are open until 4am some nights. The students love this and come in for frozen pizzas, confectionery, crisps and cigarettes until very late,” he says.
Shailes’ range of goods encompasses products such as Superglue and drain cleaner that are often bought in those “emergency” moments. “I stock products like this because this store has become known as one of those places where people go to find things that they won’t find elsewhere,” he adds. “We’ve had people coming in at 2am looking for things like drain cleaner because they need it right then and there, and they know that we are likely to have it.”
2 Use PoS, clear pricing, posters and seasonal promotions to highlight your products and special offers
The outside of the store has a large display of papers from over 10 different countries, which advertises to passers-by that the store caters for their every need, no matter where they may be from.
“The newspaper display outside the store really grabs attention,” says Graeme. “It would be good if the remaining space outside the store was used to advertise the other things on offer, including the food-to-go and premier Champagne sections.”
Advertising these other offerings is something that Shailes has tried to do in the past. “We used to have an A-board that we put up outside the store, advertising what we have inside,” he says. “Unfortunately the local council made us take it away as it obstructed the walkway.” To make up for this loss Shailes has printed leaflets that he distributes regularly and also uses his window space to promote products and services that are available in store.
“Using the window is a great idea. I’ve seen stores that have digital signs in their front windows, with rolling messages that can be changed regularly,” says Graeme. “I think these can work very well to advertise offers that you might have that may interest passers-by.”
3 Use local press to promote your products and services to your community
While Shailes does not advertise his business in the local press, it is something that has crossed his mind on more than one occasion. “It is something that I’m thinking of doing in the future because I think that it could generate more business.”
Graeme agrees that advertising your business to new people, as well as existing customers, is key.
He says: “In Shailes’ case I think some advertising, both in the press and on the outside of the store, could really help back up his offering and the messages he puts out there on his leaflets.”
4 Work with other local businesses to gain publicity for your store
Shailes has worked hard to promote the shop himself. The extensive magazine range, a well-stocked food-to-go counter, a sizeable wines and spirits section – not to mention a fine range of Champagnes – go a long way to attracting customers ranging from builders to pop stars into the store.
Spreading this message far and wide is something that his leaflet campaign has helped to achieve, and something that he feels could be extended further with increased leafleting.
As well as this, Shailes contributes to jamboree sales at a local school. There aren’t many organisations in his local area he can get involved with, but working with a school and donating prizes helps get his name out to potential new customers.