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Why blend in? Tips to make a store stand out

Why blend in? Tips to make a store stand out

As a retail manager, your mantra should be, "Stand out!" If you look like every other store on your block or are indistinguishable from your competitors, there's no way you'll be able to compete in today's tough market. It can be hard to make your store truly stand out from the crowd, but fear not – we have a few quick and easy tricks that will make your outlet one of a kind.

What do customers see?
The first step to making your store stand out is to think about what your customers are likely to see first. For traditional stores, the front window is the face of the business. Passersby will see your window right off the bat, and even people who know your store will likely take a moment to glance at what is going on in the storefront – provided you have a unique display. Using eye-catching store fixtures like tissue paper, wholesale ribbon, literature racks and jewelry displays in a creative way will definitely get you some attention. If you establish your store as a location that always has a new and unique display up front, then people will come by just to see what you've cooked up.

Tip: Create a calendar that denotes when you will change your storefront display and what themes you plan to use. This will help you keep your window fresh.

What do customers want?
Next, think about what customers want most from your store. Though the economy has turned around somewhat since 2008, people are in general more frugal than they were before the recession hit. This means that above all else, shoppers want to feel like they're getting a deal. But how do you stand out when every store on the block is offering sales of 20 or 30 percent off? The answer is to devise a few unique sales that no one else has thought of. For example, you may want to attract younger shoppers by offering a free gift with purchase to anyone who has a student ID. Maybe you will send out a tweet or Facebook post that contains a secret "password," which, when uttered at the register, entitles patrons to a 30 percent discount on select items.

Tip: Make it extra personal by creating a sale that is unique to your community. For example, provide a discount to anyone who shows up at your store wearing a piece of local sports memorabilia.

What do you have that no one else does?
To truly stand out from the crowd, you need to know what you're up against. Visiting your competition is a great way to devise a plan that will help you develop your own personality and vibe. Don't feel bad about this – your competitors probably have cased your store as well. It's all part of the game. It's better to be open and honest about this, rather than surreptitious. Introduce yourself to other managers and owners in your neighborhood. You may even find that if you collaborate on when you schedule your sales and promotions, everyone will benefit. When you visit other store locations, take note of what store fixtures they're using, how their floor is organized and what sort of customer service their employees offer. If your competitors are using plain old mannequins, then you'll know that using mannequin decals will help you make a name for yourself.

Tip: To avoid animosity, refrain from calling out your competitors in your advertising campaigns. Instead, focus on the positive – make your marketing about what you have to offer, not what others are lacking.