Is there a right promotion?
A retail promotion in your store or across your business can be in a number of forms, offering a number of different options for customers to be enticed and, of course, part with cash. However, what type of promotions work well within the furnishings industry? Are you even running any promotions? Or if you already do this, how effective are they and do you think outside the box?
When considering a promotional event, you need to determine your goals – is to celebrate a particular occasion? Perhaps clear excess stock? Or are you timing your deal in line with seasonal movements? That’s just the tip of the iceberg of things to think about, but with this article, we’ll take a look at some standard formats as well as some examples that are already going on within your industry.
So, to kick things off, what types of promotions are there? Let’s explore some key promos, from events to percentage discounts and offers.
The most obvious method when it comes to promotions is offering a discount. Whether that’s a percentage or a fixed sum off a price, this type of promo is great for when clearing stock or when prices need to be slashed. However, over doing it on a consistent basis may look like you’ve always got a sale on, which could hurt the genuine integrity of an actual sale. Plan these into the calendar for maximum impact and why not consider implementing new ways of offering discounts. This could be through a loyalty programme or newsletter sign up? The possibilities are endless really. Make sure you have impactful signage to display such discounts and always make them clear – otherwise the advertising watchdog may bite.
Events and collaborations
Events are a great way to attract new customers and boost footfall in physical stores, while also providing equal benefits to existing customers. For example, you could hold a ‘Santa’s Grotto’ event during the winter and Christmas build up, decorating the store with a festive feel to give your customers an experience. Or, you could introduce a series of events throughout the year, some could be tailored to specific industry movements (National Bed Month in March), while others can be to help support the community. A great example, as you’ll learn further on, is one furniture retailer hosted an event where local businesses set up shop in their store to promote their own services, creating a community hub. Another example is to hold an annual special day – this could be where customers can get better than usual discounts, experience different things (for example, one year you could organise it in line with a sports club sponsorship), or to just as simple as having an open day full of free tea and coffee, snacks and entertainment.
In keeping with a special day theme, a potential promotion that could be an option is running VIP events where you invite loyal customers with a special shopping experience as well as first dibs on discounts. Customers get the chance to shop away from the crowds and you can boost engagement, enhance loyalty, while building a stronger relationship with your customers. A clear, concise and actionable postcard is an effective way to reach out to valued customers (and work hand-in-hand with email campaigns and handouts) to inform them of your event. Increase the effectiveness of your event and send a follow-up postcard—according to the rule of seven, most consumers don’t respond the first time they see an offer.
Free gift or prize
A freebie always goes down well, as does a competition prize too. Why not offer your customers a free gift when they purchase over a certain amount. This could be a pillow or a bottle of bubbly, or even a hamper. With a competition, drum up interest by giving customers the chance to win an item of furniture or perhaps a weekend get-a-away, or even a spa day! The choice of prize is yours, but you can easily factor this type of promotion into sales. For example, if a customer purchases over X they are automatically submitted into the competition draw. Make it worth their while though! A note to think about here too, perhaps steer away from offering a free tote bag with goodies inside – how many tote bags can a person hoard?
With the above just a quick snapshot into promotion, let’s take a look at some real examples going on in the industry right now. As mentioned earlier, the retailer that played host to a successful event was Peter Green Furnishers. Their ‘Peter Green Health and Wellbeing Event,’ which was held in the Spring, was the first of what will be an annual event. To begin with they invited a number of health and wellness professionals from the local community to ‘set up shop’ in its Chandlers Ford Store for one Saturday in March. Next, they invited neighbours and customers to come along and explore the benefits of sleep, relaxation, proper posture and a healthy diet and lifestyle from the experts with an emphasis on improving both mental and physical health. “The response was overwhelming. We had over 20 experts sign up to demonstrate their services ranging from chiropractors to people who were able to map inflammation using special technology. When we opened the doors 300 guests joined us and enjoyed free massages, healthy smoothies and lots of free advice on how to improve their lifestyles,” they said.
Next up, Dunelm has been busy reopening refreshed stores of late and along with it comes a special discount. The first 30 customers receive an exclusive goody bag as part of the relaunch celebrations, while 20 golden tickets are hidden around the store, offering customers a chance to win a voucher from £5 to £20.
The last promotion Toons ran was an invitation only event to launch its new cookshop over the bank holiday weekend which was “extremely successful”. They offered discounts not only off the cookshop products but right across the store. They also opened late on the Friday evening with a huge prize draw and free buffet for those attending.
Finally, Vic Smith Beds says it always aims to tie in promotions with current events. Some examples of recent sale promotions include ‘It MAY be time for a New Bed during May Madness’, which was for the whole of May and ‘The King of All Bed Sales’, which ran for a week either side of the Coronation.
There you have it. Hopefully these examples can help generate food for thought with your promotions. Are you running one at the moment?