Issue #5 All Things Retail: It's Time for a Grand Opening Sale; Go Big!

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It's Time for a Grand Opening Sale; Go Big & Do It Now

The past year has obviously been challenging for most retailers. Physical merchants struggled with forced closures, dramatically reduced shopper traffic, shorter in-store visits and more. Digital sellers, while not as significantly impacted, had to fight through supply chain disruptions, staffing shortages and much higher levels of competitive advertising. 12+ months that most of us would prefer to forget.

But the consumer is coming back! And she will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Sales are approaching or exceeding 2019 levels (let’s not compare to the reduced 2020 numbers), customer traffic is normalizing and there is plenty of cash available to spend on product purchases.

As a retailer, you have two options regarding how you approach this period of renewal:

  1. Sit back and wait for your customers to return in the belief things will get better and better; or

  2. Proactively and aggressively pursue both past and new shoppers in an effort to grow sales, profits and market share faster and more dramatically than those competitors that opt for #1!

So, regardless of the age of your business (1, 5, 10 or 50 years old…doesn’t matter), it’s time to run a GRAND OPENING SALE!

Wait, what?

Here’s the logic:

  • We are entering a new, post-2020 era of retailing. “It’s a new dawn…” (anyone remember where that quote is from?) and the logic of a Grand Opening to launch (re-launch) your business into this new era makes perfect sense.

  • In many cases, your customers have been away from you for 12 or 13 months. It’s time to reconnect and invite them back, all the while explaining your value proposition. Don’t assume they think of you in the same way they did in 2019. Many businesses closed, cut back, sold, and changed in other ways. There is an element of the unknown in the minds of consumers so take nothing for granted. Introduce/ reintroduce your business to them.

  • By creating a new starting point for your go-forward efforts, you will gain momentum faster and scale higher. Operators that employ a “business as usual” approach will see shoppers trickle back in and eventually will see sales begin to normalize. They are not controlling their short-term destiny and their results will reflect that. By taking an aggressive stance, led by a Grand Opening event, you will gain the attention of consumers, bring them in sooner, get them to spend more, and frankly will keep them away from your competitors.

  • Conversely, if you don’t proactively work at driving awareness / traffic/ sales and your competitors do, they may in fact take share from you. Be bold and aggressive, before someone else does.

  • While shopper traffic will continue to build, it’s less clear how spending will trend later in the year. There is a belief that a portion of the current, positive spending trend is being driven by stimulus money and increased consumer savings (resulting from many months of quarantines). Both sources are finite and once used up, there is a reasonable chance that spending will become more conservative. So, act now and “get while the getting is good”.

  • There are a few hooks in retail marketing that generate meaningful results. The word “Free” grabs attention, and the phrase “Going Out of Business” gets people out of their seats (you may want to use the former in your promotion; let’s avoid the latter). After these, “Grand Opening” is one of the most impactful terms to drive consumer actions.

  • There is a bunch of “white space” for Grand Openings. Check the image below. Merchants have backed away from promoting “Grand Opening” events, resulting in less clutter and a greater potential for gaining awareness and conversions.

Convinced yet? If not, ask yourself “what is the worst that can happen but creating an aggressive Grand Opening event”. There is extraordinarily little downside.

Need some ideas of what to include in a Grand Opening promotion? Ok, here we go:

  • Grand Opening promotions should run 3-7 days, with a kick-off event/ party/ ribbon cutting on Day 1.

  • Structure your offer to be accretive to sales. You will want to certainly drive incremental traffic to your shop (online or physical), but you also want your guests to spend more than the norm. So, for example, if your average sale per transaction is $20, think about how you can get it to $25. Perhaps it’s better to use a “Buy 2, Get 1 Free” offer than a “Buy 1, get 1 50% Off” offer. Both generate the same margin dollars but the former results in higher sales, better turn, more cash, and ultimately more buying power.

  • Create a contest or giveaway offer to create additional excitement. People love free stuff and the chance to win something. In return for entering the contest, ask guests to provide their name and e-mail address to add to your CRM. Note that your vendors may be able to provide some free giveaways and/or prizes. It’s good exposure for them. Ask!

  • Create a Grand Opening event or events to build awareness. A grand opening party, a ribbon cutting ceremony or similar will give you more to message about.

  • Begin visiting local businesses and organizations several weeks prior to opening to re-introduce your business to them and distribute your Grand Opening information.

  • Do the same pre-promotion messaging with your e-mail list and on your social pages. Build awareness and anticipation of the event(s), the contest, the free food and the buying opportunity.

  • Work with your mall or shopping center manager to determine how they can help build awareness for your Grand Opening. Ideas may be in-center signage (possibly in vacant store windows) and messaging on their website/ social media pages.

  • Reach out to your Chamber of Commerce, local business associations, and civic groups to determine how they can help you spread your Grand Opening message.

  • Partner with a local charity and have them participate in your event. Many charities accept donations of food or clothing and your shop could become a drop-off point. This partnership could result in additional awareness, increased shopper traffic and most importantly, community support for important local causes.

  • Issue a press release locally about 3 weeks before your Grand Opening. Discuss how you are entering the new era of retailing better than ever, new items, new services (BOPIS? Delivery? Frequent Customer Program?), as well as the details of your Grand Opening promotion and event.

  • Consider some paid advertising. Direct mail, paid social, etc. Your efforts in building this event will not provide the payback unless consumers are made aware of what you are doing.

  • Hang grand opening signs, banners, and balloons in front of and inside your store to attract attention and create a festive environment.

  • Inform all team members about the event(s) and sale and how it will work.  Explain that you will need their support to make a great first “New Era” impression to all guests.

There are tons of ways to structure promotions. The ideas above are meant to get you thinking both creatively and thoroughly. Each business is a bit different, and you should craft a program that works for you. What’s important that you do something, now, to kick-start your business for this new era in retailing.

If you run an event, I would love to see some pics. Send them along and if you agree, we will post in a future issue of All Things Retail.

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Quote of the Week:

"Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It's quite simple, really: Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn't at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, so go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that's where you will find success."

-- Thomas J. Watson, IBM

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