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Need More Retail Traffic


Posted By TammyK, 2/16/2016

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Dear Brett,
I just read an article written by you. I feel compelled to write you, as I recently took a job as a sales person at a small store in CT. They started as a furniture store 41 years ago and then turned the bulk of the business to selling wood stoves. The successful furniture salesman died eight years ago, and the owner let the furniture dept go to the wayside. This place is adorable and has so much potential- a true diamond in the rough! I have been here for 5 months and sales have increased dramatically.  The building is an old New England chicken coop. There is a beautiful history to the store involving the original owner who is a holocaust survivor.  I love this place and want it to be as successful as it was years ago! I have made significant changes to the floor, painting the walls and beams, arranging the furniture in vignettes, keeping it spotless, and ordering great pieces for starters. I want so badly for it to succeed. The owner, ( he is the son of the original owner), has put a lot of money into advertising since I came on board and has confidence in me to turn things around. My biggest concern is getting traffic to the floor. We are located in a very remote location in CT and traffic is not where it could and should be. I read your article and am wondering if you have any great tips to help me increase traffic? Like I said, the potential here is limitless, but I'm open to any and all ideas you may have to help because of the circumstances regarding our location.
I would love to talk with you to give you more details of the business. Please let me know if that's possible for you and I will send you my contact number.
Thank you so much Brett. I hope to hear from you!
Sincerely,
Tammy


Replies

From Benjo21, 2/22/2016  12:38 AM

Since your store sells specialty or niche type furniture, you really are going to have to devote a nice size monthly budget for google adwords to promote your site. 

Because you are not in a central location near a shopping district, your fastest way and pretty much only way to bring in customers quickly is google adwords advertising with very specific keywords relating to your products. Simply creating ads that say "Unique Furniture Store in CT", is not going to cut it.  You will have to focus on keywords more related to the style of furniture.

That's nice that they sell wood stoves, but what does this have to do with their furniture business?  Is the owner neglecting the furniture part of the business.  Where is the focus?  I can see this place appeals to the upper class posh type.  I'm assuming you get a lot of decorators coming in possibly? 

If you do get decorators coming, you should devote a percentage of marketing efforts directly to them.

If they have been at this location for at least 10 years, what were they doing the past decade to create store traffic?

From TammyK, 2/17/2016  9:08 AM

Reply From Gordon Hecht...

Hi Tammy,

Russell forwarded your note to me about your store in CT.

I have some familiarity with the area as have worked with several retailers in the larger towns, and also have family in Wilton. It is difficult and expensive to get a share of voice with so many players in an expensive advertising market-and traditional media is become more marginalized.  Here are a few suggestions.

• If you have access to a customer list, names and addresses use direct mail to contact those customers and let you know that you are STILL in business. Even if it has been several years since they bought there, you may be able to build on the trust that is established. L&S Advertising is a great resource for DM and have creative artwork that they can provide

• Develop and manage a Facebook presence.  I have an account in very rural WV who is investing $500-700 a month in paid FB ads.  He is running more than 100% ahead in sales serving a county with a 30,000 population

• A webpage is important too.  Properly managed and developed, it can be your least expensive source.  Netsertive can manage and promote your site or about $1300 a month.

• And, of course, plan to invest in advertising. Plan on a budget of 10% of the sales you want to get.  I would invest 15% for the first 90 days, 10% for the next 90 and 7% moving forward.  Look for co-op ad dollars from your vendors.  Just ask them to invest in building your/their mutual business, even if it for the short run

• The most successful NEW businesses build traffic on this one word-FREE! Facebook, Linkedin, Amazon (free shipping), and other people with FREE samples and gifts. In the words of Nido Quebin, give an ample, don’t give a sample! Think of an item that you can give away at a low cost, but has value to shoppers. Ashley HomeStores in the Atlantic City area gives every shopper a FREE memory foam pillow just for walking in. Think about placemats, ice cream, Cherry Pies for Washington’s Birthday, sparklers for kids on July 4. Promote that to your mailing list.

• Utilize local radio interview stores and service clubs (like the Lions, or Rotary) they are always looking for speakers.  Prepare a short 15 minute presentation about your product, value of a great night’s sleep, how to match colors, how to buy a gift for someone, value of locally made/US made products.  Bring coupons for % or $$ off with a limited time offer.

I hope this helps.  Best wishes.

-Gordon

 

From TammyK, 2/16/2016  2:37 PM

Hello Tammy,


This is a very old Furniture World article series. I haven't been in touch with Brett Kitchen for years and don't know if he is even still in the industry. I've forwarded your inquiry on to him (at his last known email address).  

Also, you might want to read some articles by Gordon Hecht on the furninfo.com site here are some retail ideas from Gordon at...

http://furninfo.com/Furniture%20World%20Articles/3429

And, you can see all of his articles at...

http://www.furninfo.com/Authors/Gordon%20Hecht/12

And, you might want to do many of the things outlined in other Furniture World articles...

  • Make sure your internet site is up to date and attractive, possibly adding e-commerce to widen your trading area.
  • Write blogs and post useful information to your website. 
  • Get your social media efforts up to speed... Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.
  • Engage the design community. 
  • Do educational events for the community. 
  • Expand your product selection, perhaps to do more with bedding, outdoor, youth furniture so you can sell more categories to the people in your small community.

Like you said, the possiblities are endless. I've also posted your message to the furninfo.com message board so other readers can respond. I hope that's OK.

Regards,
Russell

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