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Lessons learnt from Independent Retailer Month


Independent Retailer Month is a free UK wide event that seeks to celebrate and support independents by encouraging consumers to shop local. Retail Economics reports the total value of UK retail sales were £358 million in 2016, and in America it was over $4.785 trillion- that's more than a fifth of the world's retail sales! If we can redistribute some of that wealth to small and independent retailers, we can protect the diversity of our high streets.


This focus on SME retailers happens annually, every July. As Independent Retailer Month comes to a close, we take a look at some of the key learnings and look how to apply those benefits all year round.

Create a marketing and promotional calendar

Outline all the key events in the retail calendar that will have a bearing on your annual sales. Consider both positive and negative factors as a little forethought and planning can go a long way to boosting trade through periods of slow footfall. A well-timed promotion could save you from a bad month, protecting your profitability and cash flow long term.

Key dates to remember are holidays across the board, from bank holidays, school holidays, seasonal breaks such as Christmas and Easter as well as the biggest dates in the retail calendar, Halloween and Valentines! Check out your local events calendar and overlay it with your own. Any opportunity to get involved with the local community should be seized. These people will become your most loyal customers, so building relationships in your local area are essential to improving customer retention.

Once you’ve decided what promotions and events you want your business to get involved in, check there will be a worthwhile return on any potential sales or promotions. Always check there is enough remaining margin on your products to turn a profit. Additionally, ask yourself if a sale is necessary. If there’s going to be a natural uplift in sales on seasonal items, be wary against reducing prices needlessly. An example of this would be reducing the cost of garden furniture and BBQ sets at the height of summer. People are more likely to purchase these items at this time and therefore don’t need to be encouraged by impromptu sales as this will just eat into your profit margin.

Use POP advertising in store (point-of-purchase)

Corporate retailers have huge budgets to splash out on promotional in-store material or will even receive these materials for free from suppliers looking to push new products. There is such an onus on POP, or point-of-purchase, as it is incredibly effective at drawing attention to specific products. Brigham Young University conducted a study that found displays with signs outperformed displays with no signage by 20%. The study also found that POP increased the sale of items even when sold at full price. By drawing the eye to these highlighted products, you turn browsers into buyers.

The same study also found that 70% of retail purchases aren’t made until the customer enters your shop. That means directing consumer attention to higher value products, or items you have surplus stock of, can drastically push up spend per head with minimal effort. Posters, hanging signs, display cubes and window dressings can all advertise key products, encouraging people to buy.

Shop4pop is a cheap and easy service that allows you to upload your own custom artwork to create POP advertising in your store. They offer a number of accessible options that are proven to increase sales of your promoted items. Try it out in your store and see how much more you can sell.

Maximise marketing opportunities

Independent Retailers Month research found that for every £1 spent locally, around 50p to 70p of that money recirculates back into the local economy. Money staying in the local area benefits everyone in the community. By raising this with your customers you can highlight the impact of their consumer choices, encouraging them to shop locally. Show your support by displaying an Independent Retailers poster in your window space, or on an A-board outside your store.

Don’t forget to stay active on social media. This is a free resource which allows you to showcase your products and advertise any events or sales you plan on holding. Posts with images usually receive more engagement and make use of hashtags to increase your audience reach. #Shoplocal #IndieRetailer #SME ensure that anyone searching these phrases will see your posts. Many local areas hold sponsored tweets each week as an opportunity to promote your business, such as #Manchesterhour. Get involved in the conversation and highlight any upcoming events you're involved in.

Independent Retailer Month is an opportunity for independent businesses to be loud and proud about their contribution to the local community. Whilst the celebrations may be over for this year, you can apply the lessons learnt throughout.



AUTHOR

Erin Heenan

Erin joined Epos Now in 2016 as an in-house content writer for the marketing department, making use of 10 years experience working in busy restaurants. An avid fan of shopping and eating out, she is committed to helping retail and hospitality SMEs get the most out of their businesses.



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