No matter your weather forecast, spring brings with it a certain state of mind. People are antsy to get out and about, which drives more foot traffic to stores, and retail moments abound (Easter, Mother’s Day, graduation, Father’s Day, summer holidays, etc.). Plus, with trade show season coming to a close, it’s the ideal time to revitalize the experience you provide your customers.
Luckily, there are quite a few ways to embody that “spring cleaning” spirit and set yourself up for success.
Serve up moments of delight and discovery through refreshed displays
Updating your displays and merchandising is a great place to start. In our recent report on “The joy and significance of serendipity,” we explored the power of discovery and how independent retailers can position their consumers to experience “happy accidents” at their stores. Seemingly stumbling on the perfect find can transform shopping from a to-do list item to an inspirational reprieve. Surprise—a cornerstone of serendipity—intensifies people’s emotions by about 400%.
Setting your customers up for surprise has a lot to do with the breadcrumbs you sprinkle throughout your displays. Here are some examples of what this could look like in practice:
- Perhaps while a customer is casually looking for a salad bowl, they see an open cookbook that reminds them of a friend with an upcoming birthday who loves Thai food.
- Maybe the direction a shopper walks through your store tells a story that inspires action: First, they see colorful lanterns hanging from the ceiling, which draw their eye to a cutting board arranged with cheese knives and cocktail coupes. Next, they see a basket of linen napkins (one draped over the edge just so), a stack of games, and a framed photo of a lively crowd enjoying a night in. Suddenly, all they want to do is throw an impromptu dinner party.
- Tap into your shoppers’ sense of touch, smell, taste, and sound with candles, music, tasting stations, and varying textures. Research shows that these multisensory cues have a positive effect not just on your shoppers’ emotions but their purchase behavior and how long they linger.
When all these carefully chosen sensory cues—any design choices relating to visuals, touch, smell, taste, or sound—work together in a way that feels organic to your store’s narrative, you’re unlocking the power of congruent cues. After perusing your store, for example, a shopper might be driven to emulate the calming vibes you projected. They’ll take home and light a stick of sage, hang a new print, and settle in to enjoy their own personal extension of your carefully curated experience. Congruent cues can inspire shoppers to stay in your shop for up to 51% longer.
Finally, when rethinking your display and merchandising strategy around discovery, consider the tastes of your community. Try using an app like Typeform to survey customers about their likes and dislikes, or casually collect feedback that might inform how you set things up in a way that feels special. For example, if you know your customers love your fresh coffee, build a coffee stand for morning visitors. A cup of joe isn’t just a nice treat; it might also convince customers to linger in your store while they sip. (Or, if you happen to sell beans, they can discover their next favorite roast.)
Prime surplus inventory to inspire purchases
Take a look at your excess inventory and decide what needs to move: Which items will age well? Which will go out of style? As you refresh for spring, keep this surplus inventory in mind and rework it into timely displays.
- Consider colors: Do you have any items from Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or St. Patrick’s Day that you could repurpose for upcoming holidays? Pair extra red items with newer pink versions for Mother’s Day, breathe new life into green with blue items for Father’s Day, and combine blue and red for the Fourth of July.
- Think seasonal: Summer vacations are coming up quickly. What will customers need that might speak to some of your extras? Perhaps you spin the hottest game from the holidays as a way for the kids to kill time during a road trip. A cozy winter knitting set becomes travel-friendly and therapeutic. Festive bath bombs now soothe sunburns and frazzled nerves.
- Bundle and discount: You could also freshen up older items by pairing them in a new package, like an “early riser coffee bundle” or “summer romance set.” Consider offering the bundled/sale items to your best customers—perhaps the top 10%—and let them know that they are the first to receive the offer. Then open it up to everyone the next week.
Refresh your marketing material
It’s always a good idea to ensure your marketing still feels relevant and true to your mission. Authenticity is paramount for consumers, and 52% are willing to pay extra for a brand image that appeals to them. To show customers what you’re all about, leverage social media, email, and any other marketing channels that empower you to authentically speak to your vision.
To start, you can take some time to sharpen your social media presence:
- Simply updating your profile picture, cover photo, and/or bio keeps things fresh and of the moment.
- Use a tool like Linktree to give followers easily accessible links to your events calendar, seasonal e-commerce pages, contact details, in-store playlists, and more.
- Invite customers to see more of what you do. Instagram Reels and stories are a great way to showcase your products or share behind-the-scenes moments. You can then repurpose the footage for TikTok and Facebook Reels, which are similar mediums.
Next, take a look at your email game. If you don’t have one yet, start by building an email list. Add a simple sign-up form on your website, or nudge customers at checkout. You could even throw in a one-time discount for good measure. Then, think about different touchpoints in your customer’s journey: Could your welcome email use a design facelift? Is there a timely email promo you could build into your editorial calendar? (This could be another good way to push surplus inventory.)
If you don’t already have a newsletter, consider sending one to email subscribers on a regular basis. You can use your newsletter to invite subscribers to upcoming events, share glowing reviews, showcase new products, and conduct surveys for feedback. You could also support your store’s ethos via a blog where you tell product origin stories, discuss craftsmanship, and highlight brands. This gives you a reason to send customers to your site without pushing products (but that might very well end with purchases).
When you want to create some fresh buzz, try an in-store event. Just make sure whatever you do ties back to your inventory in some way:
- If you have new food and drink items, set up a tasting with live music or a killer playlist. Pair olive oil and chili crunch with bread; set up chilled kombucha with mocktail recipe ingredients; open up bags of every chip flavor you sell.
- Perhaps your customers are mostly night owls: Similar to a restaurant, you could hold later “happy hours” for those who can get to your store only after the average 9-to-5, and feature a moodier ambience to fit the time of day.
- Hold hands-on events where customers can learn a new relevant skill or engage with your products. For example, a DIY block-printing class could feature the designs from your house stationery. Or your exfoliant maker could come in and show the careful science behind their scrubs.
- Schedule a meet and greet with a relevant guest, like a musician, one of your in-store artists or authors, or a beloved chef. Bonus points for local figures.
A little “spring cleaning” goes a long way. So if you’re overwhelmed or short on time, start small by spiffing up your front window display or compiling a new playlist. These subtle but powerful shifts might be just the thing that catches your next customer by surprise.