If you read last week’s post (which I’m sure was hard to put down), you know July is Independent Retailer Month. I’ve decided in addition to taking advantage of this month and all of its benefits for consignment, we’re also going to create merchandising ideas. Let your store and windows reflect your independence all month long. Let’s show ’em July is also Independent Consignment Store Month!
Every independent store owner needs to focus on leaving a lasting impression on their customers. That’s what makes an indie store fun to shop. Unique merchandise, an eclectic atmosphere or even quirky employees can add to the experience. Remind shoppers there’s treasure to be found. Teach them about being a responsible consumer by shopping at your consignment shop. Promote “Shop Local.” Promote “Independent Consignment Store Month!”
Download and print this poster to place in your consignment store window. Thank shoppers regularly for choosing you. Celebrate July as Independent Consignment Store Month!
I thought I’d throw in a few ideas for giving your store that independence celebration feel. Since you don’t want to focus on our national Independence Day for the entire month, I came up with other suggestions. Use these ideas just for Independent Consignment Store Month, or have a special place in your store that you leave it permanently.
Just slapping some sale stickers on and putting a sign in your shop window isn’t enough to build the excitement your hoping for. A successful consignment store event requires planning. Start with one very important question. What’s the purpose of your event? Clear out inventory? Grow your customer base? Drive sales? Once you answer that question, create a lasting impression in the minds of your shoppers with a truly memorable consignment store event.
Pick a theme and begin sending out teaser announcements 3 to 4 weeks before the event. Use social media, emails, in-store signage and bag stuffers to build expectation. Create a unique event hashtag.
2 weeks before the event, send out special invitations, especially to your very best customers. Use an online email invitation company such as Smilebox or create your own. Include the invitation on all your social media sites too. By all means use compelling graphics and give potential shoppers all the information they’ll need to attend.
Reminders need to be sent multiple times. Start 2 to 3 days prior to the event and even the morning of. Once again, use social media, emails, in-store flyers and signage as special reminders.
Immediately following the event, keep your followers updated with fun photos of your crowded shop. Include a thank you to those who participated and pictures of any prize winners. Ask customers to tag themselves in your photos or encourage them to post photos of their own from your store event. Read Consignment customer content is the best way to promote yourself.
Get as much feedback as you possibly can. Don’t be afraid to ask if shoppers liked the prizes, discounts, food, entertainment, etc. Find out as much as you possibly can so your next store event will be even more of a success.
For other sales tips check here:
Loyalty isn’t built with lower prices or easier parking. As a business owner, you’ve got to earn trust and respect. Shoppers buy emotionally, not rationally. Earn trust and respect through building relationships. Continue those relationships by personalizing every email you send. Get data (such as name, address, phone and email) from shoppers by offering something in return. Let them sign up for a free drawing, or give them early access to new merchandise. Then, let email foster the consignment store loyalty you want from your customers.
First, make sure your customers are satisfied with their shopping experience. They need to know you’re listening and are concerned about them. Kizer and Bender suggest phoning shoppers to strictly thank them for visiting your store. Follow up those calls with an email question, “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend?” When they answer, be ready with the proper response. Either a hearty thanks or ask, “How can we improve?”
Next, divide customers into 3 categories. First, the “promoters.” These customers eagerly tell others about you. They love you. Next, the “passives.” These are satisfied customers. However, they stay quiet about your shop. Finally, there are the “detractors.” They are unhappy customers. These shoppers usually speak louder than the other two. Target your email marketing with specific messages for each. The goal is to move as many as possible into the “promoters” category.
Loyal customers expect preferential treatment. Frankly, in today’s crowded retail/resale world, can you blame them? Consider an email marketing campaign giving your top customers a special VIP service, invitations to private “members-only” events or extra loyalty points. Read Stop the cycle of discounting to see other ways to reward their loyalty without giving a discount. By using emails to convey these promotions, your best customers become even bigger fans. This is the perfect group to start a bring-a-friend email promotion.
All of us know what it’s like to have overflowing email inboxes. You spend an hour merely clicking the “delete” button. To make sure your passive shoppers don’t easily delete your email messages, offer them something of value. A “we miss you” message can offer a special incentive to come back. Add a deadline date to ensure a quick response. Send an informational email that gives them the latest trends or even a survey that asks specific shopping experience questions. All of these build consignment store loyalty.
It may seem odd to reach out to your detractors, but often they just want to be heard. Nine times out of 10 if you reach out to a negative shopper, they’ll back down. Usually, all bark and no bite. Above all, tell them you are willing to listen and hopefully resolve their issue. Ask for another opportunity.
Be sure to give your customers their 15 minutes of fame. By emailing customer photos and sharing great stories or reviews, everyone gets to share in that warm, fuzzy feeling about your store. Create a sense of pride in customers because they’re being smart, savvy, earth-sustaining shoppers. Personalize messages to help them feel important. After awhile, you become a family rather than just another place to shop.
“80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers.” Forbes
For more on growing and using your email list:
Last Friday, most of Team Traxia headed to Harrisburg, MO. This little town is where you’ll find Coyote Hill Children’s Home. For almost 3 decades, Coyote Hill Christian Children’s Home has given abused and neglected children “A Safe Place To Be A Child.” Through licensed counselors and full-time Home Parents, the children of Coyote Hill are ensured a safe and healthy place to grow, learn, laugh and love. Team Traxia was honored to be a part of the Hill’s Easter celebration.
With over 1,000 eggs to hide, we had our work cut out for us. We divided into teams to hide eggs for the different age groups. Children as young as 4 up to 16 year-old teens were egg hunting.
We hid them in fields, on top of a dirt mound and in an enormous brush pile. Coyote Hill will be finding Easter eggs for months to come!
The day was chilly and very breezy. Easter eggs blew out of trees and off of logs. No telling where they wound up. It took our Team over an hour to hide them all.
Once everyone gathered, the hunt began. Kids ran everywhere! It was so fun to hear them yell, “I found an egg!” Bags bulging with Easter eggs, the children ran back to show their Home Parents.
Team Traxia treated everyone to hot dogs and hamburgers after the hunt. Our Founder, Joe, was the master griller. It was wonderful to be a blessing to such an amazing ministry.
If you’d like to know more about Coyote Hill Christian Children’s Home, we invite you to take a closer look.
“RIP Sears.” That was the subject line in a recent RetailWire email. According to the article, Sears is close to liquidation. They’re hanging on by their last thread. It’s sad. A trip with my Dad to Sears for tools was a regular Saturday morning event at my house. For over 125 years, it was an anchor for many suburban malls and a staple for tool and appliance buyers. So, what are the lessons consignment shops can learn from Sears’ downfall? Listen to the words of a few retail experts.
Experts say Eddie Lampert, current chairman and former CEO of Sears Holdings, ruined Sears. His expertise was in finance, not retail. In fact, incompetent leadership is rumored to have caused the downfall of Toys “R” Us and JC Penney too. Of course, wisdom tells us that very few consignment shops (if any) have greedy CEO’s looking to rake in millions to line their own pockets. However, we do know without strong leadership, any business fails. Success always begins at the top. What can you do in 2019 to improve your leadership skills? Sign up for our Consignment Business CheckUp. Examine your shop as well as your role as the business owner. For example, the CheckUp asks about your future vision, financial planning and current team of employees.
Growing and changing within our industry is part of the path to success. Neil Saunders, Managing Director of GlobalData lists the lessons learned from Sears, “don’t starve business of investment, aim to create financial stability…create a sound internal organization…have a clear point of differentiation and reason for existence, and evolve with the times.” That’s a mouthful, but the lesson for consignment shops is clear. Invest in your business, offer stable management, market your differences from other stores and be open to change. 2019 is your year. Upgrade the look of your store. Or, modernize your POS system. Don’t merely rely on past successes.
Many experts blame Sears for not sticking to its strongest message. While growing up, we always thought of Sears as a man’s store. The only reason my Mom shopped at Sears was for a new refrigerator. Buying clothing seemed downright weird. When they sold off their exclusive brands such as DieHard, Craftsman and Kenmore; stopped offering services like auto repair; and didn’t convert their infamous catalog to an online store, they lost their branding. Consignment shops need to have a solid brand. If you’re not sure about yours, read 6 tips to build your secondhand store’s brand. Success comes with a confident store identity.
As always, it revolves around your #1 resource, your customer. How well do you know your shoppers and what they expect of you? The customers of consignment shops are unique. They choose you for that personal attention. Likewise, they love hunting for a bargain. As Jeff Sward, founding partner of Merchandising Metrics writes, customers “shop product, pricing, presentation and path-to-purchase.” Owners of consignment shops need to remember these 4 P’s. Train your staff thoroughly. Read 10 customer service tips your sales team needs to adopt today. Remember, customers want to connect with like-minded people, not buildings.
It remains to be seen whether Sears can survive. Heated negotiations are going on even as I write. Above all, remain true to your customers, employees and brand. You’ll be in it for the long haul, I’m sure.
There are 3 things in life you can be sure of …taxes, death and constant changes to your FB page. I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. It’s one of the best places to find potential customers, but dog-gone-it, Facebook keeps changing the rules! Here are a few things you must do and a few you should never do to improve your consignment Facebook page. For additional reading about improving your store’s Facebook page, read 8 Facebook failures you don’t want to make.
As of this post, the ideal Facebook profile photo size is 360 x 360 pixels. The minimum size for a profile photo is 180 x 180 pixels. If possible, use your logo for your consignment Facebook profile image. If it’s horizontal (like SimpleConsign’s), find a way to stack it or just use part of it. You’d be surprised at the number of shops that don’t check their profile image before posting. Remember, this is part of your overall branding as a professional, savvy consignment store.
Your consignment Facebook Cover Photo or Banner Image is the first thing a customer sees. Make sure the image is eye-catching and the proper size. Below is an example of a great Cover Image. The problem is it’s still there in the month of November when voting ended in June. If necessary, keep a marketing calendar that reminds you to change your image. According to Facebook, your cover image should be 820 pixels wide by 312 pixels tall for a desktop computer. Make it 640 pixels by 360 pixels for smartphones. Now, here’s the problem, what if you want to use the same photo for both and have it look great? Louise Myers Visual Social Media has the answer. She even provides free templates to get just the right image size. Don’t skimp here. This image is perfect for conveying your brand and style. Take your time. After you’ve got the size down, be sure to change the image every couple of months too.
Believe it or not, I’ve seen consignment Facebook pages that don’t include address information, phone numbers or email addresses. Nothing. That would make sense if you are an online store only, but if you have a brick & mortar location, by all means add your address, phone and email! You want to make it as easy as possible for shoppers to find you. In fact, if there’s a known landmark nearby, add that too. Choose a Category. I suggest “Thrift & Consignment Store.” If shoppers are specifically looking for secondhand stores in their area, yours will be one of the ones shown.
For consistent marketing, check the links to all of your online advertising. Many times, I’ll view a consignment store’s website, click on their Facebook link and find “This Page Isn’t Available.” Or worse yet, the dreaded “Page Not Found” link.
When you have an exciting announcement, special sale or important information, it’s a good idea to pin that post to the very top of your consignment Facebook page. However, make sure you unpin the post when the date has passed. If not, shoppers will come to your page, see the outdated post and immediately think you’re not an active business. They might even mistake you for being closed. Look carefully at your top posts to be sure they’re up-to-date.
It seems simple enough, but you’d be surprised at the number of posts where spelling isn’t checked. Here’s an example, “Come in (the store name) today and s unique items not Lund anywhere else. One of a kinds. And big discounts on large pieces of furniture. We’ve got what your. Looking for.” Simple to correct if you proofread. Take your time. Review your post. Incorrect spelling and grammar looks unprofessional. You’re serious about what you do so present yourself that way.
For just a moment, stop. Take a deep breath. Slowly exhale. Now, step back and look at your consignment store. Is it what you envisioned? Does it reflect you and your personality? Are you selling the merchandise you intended? Is the look and feel of your shop just what you wanted? If the answer to these questions is “No,” get back on track by rebranding your consignment store. Don’t let the term overwhelm you. Rebranding doesn’t always require starting over. Often, it’s those little tweaks that get you closer to your ultimate vision.
Depending on your personality, there are 2 ways to go about tackling it. You decide which is best for you.
If it’s easier, think of it as a “re-fresh” rather than rebranding your consignment store. Move from the inside out and start with you, the consignment store owner. As I’ve said often, you are your store’s brand. Read, 6 tips to build your secondhand store’s brand to understand that people emotionally identify with people, not stores. Does your store convey your personality? Answer this question…”My personal brand is _____________.” If your store reflects you then move on to Step 2. If not, dig a little deeper. Here’s a free workbook that you can download that may help you. Your Personal Brand Workbook.
The most important part of any consignment store is the merchandise you have to offer. Are you selling items that fit your brand or at least the brand you want to become? The items you sell need to be curated according to your brand. Make a clear list of the merchandise you are willing to accept and items you won’t accept. Read How to tweak your consignment acceptance policy. Be willing to offend some customers and consignors when items don’t meet your new standards. Reward your top consignors who consistently bring you items that fit your image. Move merchandise out quickly that doesn’t meet your brand standards and begin building new stock.
Take a close look at your physical store. It also needs to reflect your brand. If it doesn’t, start researching other locations in neighborhoods that more closely fit you and the clientele you want. If you’re in the right area, check to make sure the look and feel of your store is in line. A fresh coat of paint in a new color may be all you need to add that brand identity. Read How your secondhand store can use color to sell more.
Although a bit more challenging, take a closer look at your marketing efforts. A logo change is a big commitment. Perhaps it’s something as simple as adding a new tag line. Slowly begin to create marketing pieces that better reflect your store’s brand. Changes to your website can also be made slowly. New blog posts and a different style of photography reflect the new you. Or, your emails can take on a fun, zippy pizzazz they’ve not had before.
Rebranding your consignment store should never be done lightly. As Business News Daily adds, “The ultimate goal of any rebrand should be to grow the company by better serving your customers. Sometimes that requires putting client services ahead of the rebrand. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”
I wish I could tell you, “Paint your store X color and you’ll increase sales by 100%.” Unfortunately, I can’t. Color is elusive. It evokes emotion. Likes and dislikes are determined by culture, gender, upbringing or age. Ask men what color is their favorite and they’ll say “blue,” “green,” or “red.” Ask a woman and she’ll say “teal,” “moss,” or “rose.” Everyone has a different interpretation of color. But, there are ways a secondhand store can use color to encourage shoppers to buy. It’s called the Psychology of Color.
As you can see by this 2014 infographic below, nearly 85% of consumers said color was the primary reason they purchased an item. When shoppers enter your secondhand store, it takes only 90 seconds for them to make a favorable or unfavorable decision about your shop. Plus, over half of shoppers never return to a store based on the look of it alone.
The colors your secondhand store chooses for branding, marketing and store design, do make a difference to the shopper. Choose wisely.
The above infographic shows that 80% of buyers think color increases brand recognition of a product or store. More than choosing the right color for your brand, consider choosing the right color for your target audience. Young adults and teens respond better to bright, bold colors. Older adults prefer subtle, softer colors. In the west, white is the color for purity and weddings. In China, white is the color of death. Read What does your resale store’s visual image communicate? Know your target market and you’ll know the colors to choose for your secondhand store.
Red is the color of action. Add a call-to-action button such as “Buy Now” in red or orange to your emails. Use red for all of your sale signs. On your website, always choose a very light color for the background. According to Small Biz Trends, “Choosing stark, complementary (2 colors on opposite sides of the color wheel) colors, creates an easy-to-read area.” Make sure your merchandise is the brightest element of the overall design.
The color of your secondhand store has the power to keep shoppers in or drive them out. Many stores paint walls pale green or blue to add a calming influence to their interior. A deep, rich green gives a feeling of affluence and quality. Yellow and orange are associated with joy and playfulness making them perfect for children’s stores. However, according to a study by the Journal of Business Research, “Patrons are 15% more likely to return to stores with blue color schemes than to those with orange color schemes.” Pink and rose are excellent choices for clothing stores. Neutral colors such as grey, beige and white offer a lot of opportunities for adding a pop of bolder, brighter colors. Whichever colors you choose make sure they align with your branding and target shopper.
Don’t forget lighting. The type of bulb makes a difference in the warmth and brightness. If you use colored lights, make sure they’re in the same color family as the merchandise your highlighting. Use pink lights for red and soft green for green and blue merchandise.
Even though resale is becoming mainstream, our industry still has some work to do. A recent review for The Clothesline, a nonprofit store in Waco, TX, is proof. “Why hasn’t anyone reviewed this place yet? It is AMAZING! This is not your typical thrift store, filled with well worn and outdated clothes. They have nice, modern, gently loved designer fashions at a steal. Very affordable and organized. You will not be disappointed!” Unfortunately, this review is not unusual. Consumers are flabbergasted at the quality and cleanliness of consignment, buy outright and thrift stores today. But, and it’s a big BUT, there is still a stigma each secondhand shop has to overcome.
Truth is you are a “secondhand shop.” Like bunnies, you all have one thing in common. All bunnies have adorable little noses. Similarly, every secondhand shop sells other people’s items. But, that’s where the similarities end. Resale stores, like bunnies, can be as different as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. You need to decide which bunny you want to be. How do you want to be known? Are you that old secondhand shop on the corner or are you that AMAZING resale shop that surprises everyone? Only you can change the image of the resale industry.
Building your store’s brand communicates an image. As we know, resale already has an “image” in the mind of most consumers. We need to re-invent that image. Currently, how would you define your brand/image? Sophisticated? Unorganized? Trendy? Cluttered? A little quirky? Modern? Each shop owner defines their shop’s brand. You can’t be someone you’re not for 6 days a week 8 to 10 hours a day. It’s impossible. As a result, build your brand around your own personality. Unless of course, your personality is cluttered, unorganized and generally messy. In that case, you might need to re-brand yourself first.
Studies suggest that within 5 years, consumers will no longer physically shop for daily essentials such as toilet paper, shampoo or even groceries. All of that will be done automatically online. Upcoming generations have never known a time without the internet or online shopping. For them, shopping in the cloud is perfectly natural. Therefore, retail and resale shops will have to up their game to draw shoppers in. How does resale compete? Concentrate on the benefits. Sustainable fashion, eco-friendly merchandise and being part of the sharing economy are all benefits to shopping resale. Read 3 sensational resale secrets our industry needs to tell for more information.
It isn’t enough to have the most clothes or the most couches on your sales floor. Amazon has that. In order to survive, work smart. Remember, success comes from what you deliver, not what you advertise. You are what “real people” say you are, not what you say. Smart resale shop owners follow through on every promise, go above and beyond in customer service and curate items for their store’s customers. That’s the way to survive and hopefully, you’ll become the biggest resale bunny!
When your resale store has a strong brand, you become much easier to remember. Think about Target or Walmart. You know what to expect from them. The look of their stores, their marketing materials and the type of products they offer are consistent around the world. Building your resale brand requires consistency too. See if you can answer “Yes” to these 8 questions.
Establishing a solid brand identity gives your resale store the parameters it needs for all aspects of your business. When you place a Facebook ad, consider a new employee or change the color of your store, you can ask yourself, “Does this fit our brand?” Plus, having a consistent resale brand automatically raises the perception of your store in the eyes of consumers. It helps our industry as a whole too. Take the time. Start building your resale brand today. To learn more about branding and see how Traxia builds our brand, read 6 tips to build your secondhand store’s brand.