How To Build Your “Shop Local” Following

If you're a small business retailer, you rely heavily on the loyalty of shoppers in your town and surrounding communities. Finding new customers isn't always easy, especially in rural areas, but here are a few tips to help boost foot traffic to your store and increase sales.

Do a merchandise swap with complimentary local seller

Think about which businesses have a strong presence in your community, that would offer something different than your current inventory, but would still mix well. If you sell mostly apparel or accessories, consider partnering up with a local candlemaker, aspiring painter or photographer, handmade card maker, or home décor store.  

In return, ask your local partner to sell some of your products in their store. Make sure your products are properly labeled, so new customers can find their way to your business in the future. Your staff and your partner’s staff should be aware of the product swap, so both retailers can receive their due promotion.

Take advantage of your community events

If your city has an upcoming fall or winter festival, start making plans now to have a booth. While you might not consider yourself a mobile boutique, picking up and heading to an event where there are plenty of prospective customers can have big results. Offer shoppers a taste of what they can find at your store, and have plenty of business cards at-the-ready with your permanent address.

When you’re active in your community, other businesses will gain name recognition with your store, and may be more open to partnership opportunities in the future.

Invest in custom labeling

Ask your vendors if they have custom labeling abilities, so you can add your own company name or logo to the tag of your products. If customers believe the product is something unique to your store alone, they have more pressure to buy now instead of looking online or at a big-box retailer.

Custom labeling gives small business owners an upper hand to major retailers and e-commerce giants, and you should be taking advantage if you aren’t already.

Don’t be afraid to refer

Have you ever been in a store, and the cashier tells you: “Don’t forget to check out the boutique next door, they’re having a clearance sale you might want to check out.” Why send business to your competition? Because shoppers talk! When the owner asks what brought them in today, they’re going to mention your store’s name.

Having a referral relationship with other businesses keeps customers shopping longer in your community, and stopping by new stores they might not know about yet.

Follow other local businesses on social media

If you don’t have a relationship with other retailers in your area yet, give them a follow on Instagram. Even if you’re not at the point where you can get an inside scoop to their business, you can still see how they’re marketing their merchandise on social, what events they attend, or what parties they throw in-store.

Take cues on what seems to be working for them and apply it to your own business. And when your paths do cross, you can open the conversation by complimenting them on something you saw on their social media accounts.

Create your own events on Facebook

If you’re hosting a grand opening, pop-up party, “girls night out” or other sale event, create an event through your company Facebook page. When someone is searching on Facebook for something to do next weekend, prospective customers are going to find you based on your proximity.

Even better, creating events on social media makes it easier for shoppers to share the details with a friend!

For apparel, accessories, or footwear that will keep your local customers coming back for more, attend the upcoming OFFPRICE Show, February 3-6, 2020 in Las Vegas. Start shopping online now at www.offprice365.com. For questions, contact Mikaela Kornowski, Marketing Manager, at 262-754-6906 or mkornowski@offpriceshow.com.

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