Our wonderful advisor Irene Lemon shares some of her tips for creatives who might be new to showcasing their creative work in a retail setting, or need a little boost to help their sales.
There are an increasing number of creatives who are selling their own work in shops, pop-ups, markets and collaborative selling spaces. Even local councils and economic development initiatives have finally cottoned on to the power and fabulousness of creative arts entrepreneurs selling their own work. There are Pop-Ups popping up all over the place, from Armidale’s Pop-Up Store to Liverpool CBD Pop-up Project in the Northumberland Arcade. Check out our client Maya Brasnovic’s blog post for more.
Whether a temporary retail Pop-Up shop or a permanent shopfront for your handmade gorgeousness and creativity, the products and services are only part of the picture. Retail of any kind is about the experiences you create as the shop owner. The experience is the magic that will stick in the mind of your customers – every time they pick up their shit-hot Jeff McCann earrings they can remember the absolute joy of the shopping experience at Finders Keepers. It even true for those of us who aren’t as keen on shopping in the first place (it’s fine, I’m good at other stuff).
Here are a few tips for the Pop-Up novice or tired shop owner to help you refresh your retail space and design the experience that keeps people interested in your work, long after you’ve sold them the piece they love.
Who’s your Daddy? Pop-up shops and retail spaces with tiny or sudsidised rents can be lots of fun if you have a creative practice that makes things. Usually, they are supported by local councils or cooperatives, so make sure you get bang-for-your-effort by ensuring you get the right support from your landlord. There could be high expectations on you as the store owner to turn dead-end retail sink-holes around with your fabulousness, so manage those expectations and get the right “scope” from your landlord about what they can do to help you drive local business to what is traditionally an empty space. For instance, can they send out a special invite to opening night to their VIP network, or council staff? Can they invite you to speak at their business events to help spruik the space?
The Rule of Three: How many times have you seen someone freak-out about too many choices? This is why I don’t read catalogues or spend hours comparing things I need to buy… and also why I like ALDI. The choices are simple. According to findings cited by Constant Berkhout, shopper happiness increases when there is a manageable and clearly defined distinction on a limited range. Consider three to be your ideal number and build a strategy around how you will distinctly categorise the offers so your customers can choose the one that matches their needs.
Think of these three items as CORE products. Sure, you can have more things in the shop, but to help your customers decide and make a purchase, look at ways you can strategically market those three items to encourage people to come to the shop first. For example, for handmade clothes you could communicate about your range of three basics in all your print and social media marketing. When I come to your Pop-Up for my handmade pencil skirt, I’ll of course immediately fall in love with the groovy matching kerchief and collar for my doggie Duke, but I will not have agonised forever of the choice!
The Personalisation Rule: Part of the reason I have retail anxiety is the pressure from the brand itself to represent their clothes/things/products according to their rules… ah, NO! I’m an anarchist and a bit of a shit when it comes to rules, and I just LOVE a brand that will let me be ME! From our own experiences, we know how overwhelming the advertising world can be with the bombardment of messages on social media, in print advertising, on T.V and radio. People’s time and capacity to process these messages is minimal, and we usually only pay attention to personal events that have occurred recently.
Service experiences that target the lifestyle needs of your customer are more likely to be perceived as valuable. You can leverage your data and create merchandise and retail experiences to match segments of your customer base, or focus on getting it right for just one group or niche – such as the clever darling who makes pencil skirts and doggie accessories!
The Experience Rule: An outstanding experience is the final piece of the customer value puzzle. So, what are you doing to make the shopping experience memorable? Think about how you combine digital and physical shopping and develop innovative offers to meets the needs of your customers. For example, could you have a charging station for a customer’s device while they try on your handmade apparel? Or a ‘click and collect’ option on your website to encourage customers to come visit your physical shop too.
Experiences can also be developed across a range of retailers, creating destination shopping zones, or placemaking initiatives. Think about how you might engage other shops and your local council to pool your resources and draw people to your retail spaces, including pop-up shops! For example, there is an exceptional group of people in regional NSW who have created a collective and a strategic plan to bring visitors to their regional town – check out the Nundle Business Tourism Group!
Pop-ups, and indeed any retail experience, should ideally leave your customers wanting more. Make sure they are flocking to your door, in real life or online, whenever they can!