That's Retail-tainment

June 1998


That's Retail-tainment

You don't have to turn your store into a theme park to show your customers a good time

Some call it retail-tainment. Nation's Business,in a recent story, christened it "Entertailing." Whatever the name, the art of showing customers a good time while selling them merchandise is becoming as much a part of retailing as taking inventory or putting up Christmas decorations.

"If you're in retail and you're not thinking about entertainment, you're cooked," one retailing consultant told Nation's Business.Another consultant told the magazine stores with "well-conceived" retail-tainment (his word for it is "shoppertainment") generally have 40% higher sales than those of their non-entertaining counterparts.

The great thing about entertailing, the article says, is that just about any type of store can do it. No product category is too mundane, no budget too small to get in on the act. One laundromat owner turned his operation into a veritable fun factory by adding a bar, deli, dartboards and ping-pong table. A store that sells health aids built a 100-sq.-ft. "test track" where customers can try out wheelchairs on various surfaces (granted, this may stretch the definition of "fun" a tad). Mom-and-Pop stores can become retail-tainers simply by serving pie and coffee. "The primary goal is to engage customers so they'll stay longer and buy more," says Nation's Business.

Jewelers can beome retail-tainers fairly simply. A few suggestions:

  • Hold lectures in your store. The list of possible topics is endless: where various gemstones come from and how they're mined, how jewelry is made, historical influences on current jewelry design, the importance of cut to a diamond's beauty, the season's new fashions and how jewelry can enhance them. If you're a good public speaker, give the talks yourself. If a staff member knows a lot about a topic, he or she can give the presentation.
  • Bring kids into your store. Michael Gengos, owner of Austin Maxwell in Millburn, NJ, invited his son's second-grade class in to see his goldsmith at work, look at gems under a microscope and hear about how they're cut. True, the kids didn't buy anything. But each carried home an Austin Maxwell shopping bag containing a piece of rock crystal, along with stories about their trip to that cool jewelry store.
  • Initiate a coffee-and-cookies hour a couple days a week. Some jewelers are going further - building coffee bars where customers can rest. Gengos is one of them. He says the coffee bar in his store has become a real neighborhood meeting place.
  • Hold a men's night in your store. Several weeks before Christmas, invite your male customers in one evening for a whisky and cigar - and a look at some of the jewelry they can give their wives or girlfriends for the holiday.

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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