Fashion Retail: 3 Reasons Why In-Store Events Fail  

Image 'Kate Spade Saturday' via Pinterest

Head Office have created a sensational new event and promotional campaign that is destined to increase footfall and conversion rates, improve average cost and unit per transaction, produce huge brand awareness and heighten the brand’s image exponentially! But somehow, it falls completely flat. On the day of the event, half of the sales team is far too excited and practically forcing customers into the store, and the other half are hiding confused in the fitting room. The following day you receive a disappointing email from your Store Manager saying the store didn’t reach its targets or hit any of the KPI’s. Next thing you know, the Area Manager is coming for a visit and everyone is getting an early performance review.

The following are 3 common mistakes that are easily made when running an in-store event or promotional campaign in fashion retail.

1. Lack of communication
The Store Managers need to be informed in plenty of time with full and detailed information so that they can instruct their sales team. The sales team cannot be expected to run an event if they don’t know the key objectives or what is expected of them. Head Office may have been working on the campaign for months and know it inside out, but it’s completely new the the store teams. With so many people involved in the event, it’s easy to have a lack of firm communication.

The short examples below both use a photo booth to promote a new season line through two different event campaigns.

Aims: Increase social media followers and awareness of the new season line.
Event: Customers can try on their favorite outfit and use the photo booth to post a photo on social media with a custom hashtag and caption explaining why they love it. By following the brand on social media and posting the photo, the customer will be entered into a competition to win the outfit.

Aims: Direct customers to the online store and increase online sales of the new season line.
Event: Customers can try on their favorite outfit and send a photo from the photo booth directly to a friend or family member along with a website link to buy the outfit as a gift with a special discount code.

The Store Managers need to know the aims of the event and how those aims will be reached through the campaign. This information can then relayed to the sales team and used to inform key decisions, e.g. which Sales Assistants should perform which roles. Simply informing Store Managers or sales teams that a photo booth will be set up for a new season line is not enough information. Everyone involved in the event process needs to have a firm understanding for the event to be success.

2. Not enough promotion
You work for a huge fashion brand and it has stores all across the country, it might even be a global brand with stores all around the world but it’s probably only got one social media account or one per country which represents the overall brand. An advert was posted a week prior promoting the event but now the company social media accounts are full of product adverts, blog posts, influencer interviews and links to the brand’s Spotify account.

In store events and promotional campaigns need to have a firm marketing strategy. Even if the event is just a small community activity held in a handful of stores, it still needs to be promoted. Customers need to be told and reminded that something special is happening and that they will gain exclusive benefits from visiting the store during the event. An event should be thought of like a new product and given it’s own unique promotional strategy. If the event is not properly promoted you cannot expect to reach any of the desired aims.

3. The event is not designed for the specific store
You’ve got your photo booth set up, the sales team have been fully briefed, social media adverts have been posted and you wait expectantly for the rush of excited customers, but there’s no increase in footfall than any other day. Two common and usually overlooked reasons:

Location and visibility
Location in this context refers to the visibility of the store to the flow of potential customers. Is your store located on a busy high street or is it tucked down the side of a quiet sidestreet? Does your store have big windows or do you have a modest storefront? If customers cannot see any visible signs of an event they may not come to the store. If your store has low visibility, use signage and Sales Assistants outside of the store or on the busy high street to hand out flyers and direct customers in. If the store has high visibility you still need to ensure customers know something is happening inside. Add promotional materials to the window display, have branded balloons hanging outside or Sales Assistants at the entrance enticing customers in.

Layout of the store
Store layouts are different depending on floor plans and facilities. One store might have an excellent space at the front of the shop for an event area, whereas other stores might only have a small space at the back. When customers enter the store they need to see or be directed to the event area, if they can’t find the activity they can’t engage with it. A store might need to schedule extra Sales Assistants to direct customers or take stock off the shop floor to allow the event to have a prime position. One event design will not necessarily work for every store.

* * *

Has enough information be given to the store teams? Has the event been sufficiently advertised? Have the individual locations and layouts of each store been considered within the event design? Although it may seem like basic planning, these are questions that are easily overlooked. Think about these key points when planning an in store event and promotional campaign to ensure event success.

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