Making The Shopping Experience Stand Out

bagSo yesterday we did one of our day trips.  This time we headed to Point Judith, Rhode Island.  The weather was just fabulous for a day at the ocean.  Not too hot or  muggy.  Of course while we visited we always go check out the local shops and see what great little treasures we might find.  But as I’ve said in past blogs, I see how other stores are setup and present their merchandise to help with giving me a little inspiration.  While the little stores located in the Port of Galilee were cute,  had your typical tourist attraction items, they lacked in the inspiration I was looking for. The stores where pilled high with merchandise from floor to ceiling making it even difficult to walk through without knocking something over. This is something that has always been a pet peeve of mine.  Proper spacing in retail is essential so customers don’t feel claustrophobic and just want to leave.

We then headed over to Point Judith Lighthouse to admire the amazing view and rocky beach area along the lighthouse.  I am always inspired by the ocean scenery.  But I was on a mission to find more drift wood, as my supply is running very low.  No luck was had though. I was able to collect a mason jar full of ocean water though, which will help me when needing a dose of ocean air to get my creative juices flowing.

We then decided to take the ferry over to block island.  As it had been many years since I had been over and my fiance had never visited we thought it would be a great chance to go exploring on the island.  Exploring we did for sure, enough so that we got a little confused by the ferry schedule and landed up on the last ferry out for the evening. But that mistake was well worth it.  The sunset on the ride back was just breath taking.  We checked out the lighthouse on the island and the Mohegan bluffs.  What an amazing sight to see.

We then heading into the stores to check them out.  Two stores stand out in my mind.  The first was Strings N’ Things.  The minute you walk into the store smells of incense linger in the air and a feeling of comfort and warmth surrounds you. The lady working was so pleasant to speak.  We enjoyed some laughs talked about our store back home and found some really amazing items in the store we just couldn’t leave behind.  What stood out most was the arrangement of merchandise throughout the store.  Easy to see from everywhere in the store, not overcrowded and just well displayed.

The next store was actually the last store we went into for the evening, Block Island Trading Company. Walking in you see a wide variety of merchandise pleasantly displayed while you enjoy some Frank Sinatra playing in the background.  A very relaxing atmosphere.  What stood out most with this store was the care the cashier took when packing up our merchandise.  Everything was wrapped safely for the trip back, but also very decorative.  Using a simple paper bag with their store logo and adding colored tissue paper for an extra flair.  Simple, but elegant.  It really stood out and made me think, that’s a good gift store.

We too have purchased decorative bags with our logo label on them, but I really hadn’t gone the extra mile and picked up coordinating tissue paper.  So seeing this got me thinking that is something we need to do as well.  Making the shopping experience amazing from the time you walk in till you leave with your purchase is what it’s all about.

So not only did we get a beautiful day at the ocean, we learned a few things on ways to further improve our store and the shopping experience for our customers.

So remember the next time you are out and visit a business similar to your own, pay attention to how they do things with their business.  They may give you a little inspiration of your own.

Small Business Matters

 

Leverage Facebook to Grow Your Customer Base

small business mattersIf you haven’t had a chance to look at Facebook for Business yet you should.  It has some really good resources to teach you how best to use Facebook for building your customer base both in store and online.

Here are some of their tips that may help you.

Attracting Customers In Your Store

  1. Run special promotions
    Use Offers to encourage people to come into your store to redeem a special discount you create on your Facebook Page.
  2. Share news
    Post fresh content on your Page about new products, seasonal items, daily specials or in-store events. Promote your most popular posts to increase their reach.
  3. Help people find your store
    Add your address to your Page so that people can check in on Facebook when  they’re visiting. You address and accurate Page category information will also help people find you when they search for a business like yours, or are using Nearby in your neighborhood.

 

Attracting Customers Online

  1. Acquire new customers
    Drive prospects to your site by targeting your ads. You can reach people based on things like age, gender and demographics, or use your own data to reach your customers by creating a custom audience. Ads can appear in the news feed on desktop and mobile apps, the logout screen, and the right hand side with Facebook Exchange. Also, leverage Facebook Exchange to capture in-market shoppers who’ve visited your website.
  2. Grow sales on desktop or mobile
    Merchandise products in news feed and right-hand side ads, linking directly to product pages on retail websites. Getdetailed, multi-touch attribution numbers beyond last click.
  3. Build loyalty
    Connect with the most active customers. Publish to them every day with engaging content to increase retention and word-of-mouth marketing.

These tips can help you increase your customer base using Facebook.  If you are looking for more help with managing your Facebook page feel free to give us a call.  We are always here to assist.

Small Business Matters

 

What Are The Biggest Obstacles For Small Businesses?

your small business blogAccording to a recent article from American Express Open Forum, small business owners were asked what their biggest obstacle for small businesses in their communities was.  Is it the local government or big-box?  The general consensus from business owners was big-box competition.  That big-box competition is a real threat to the small business owners.

It’s difficult for a small business owner to compete with the behemoth retailers.  Their ability to spend more on marketing, their access to high volume discounts and how they monopolize distribution channels.  These are all very big threats to a small business even more to a start up business.

There are advantages as well though, that the small business has over big-box competition.  When is the last time you went into Target or Walmart and easily found an associate to help you with finding a product? How long did it take you to find someone to assist you? Did the associate even know what the product was or where it was located in the store?  We’ve all become frustrated by the lack of service from the big-box competition.  Now walk into a local small business. You’ll find personalized, speedy service along with a better product more often.

Relationships are also another important part of small business.  Small business owners know this is one attribute they have over big-box competition.  Small businesses know the importance of building relationships with their customers and community. “Small business owners must engage customers, or those customers will quickly jump on the big-box bandwagon to shop price without even a glance back.”

Not only do small businesses need to build great relationships with their customers and community, they need to build a relationship with their local government.  Small businesses that reach out to their local government and community get more support.  You are making an investment in your community.

So they keep these things in mind the next time you hear a big-box moving into your area.  Yes, it will always be an obstacle, but your small business can survive. You will always have something big-box competition doesn’t.  Personalized service, quality product and a commitment to your community.

Small Business Matters

Small Business Marketing & Creative Services

 

Retail Feng Shui Tips

feng shui for retailI came across this article on how Feng Shui can improve your retail store and sales.  I found it very interesting and wanted to share some of the tips from the article.  You can read the whole article here.

The author of the article Rodika Tchi makes some really great points on how simply using Feng Shui in your retail space can make a dramatic change on how customers feel about your store.  It’s all about good energy in your store that will make your customers shopping experience amazing.

Here are a few of her tips she suggests:

  • Step outside your store and take a feng shui look at your main entrance, your store name, your window displays and your neighbors. Do you stand out or do you blend in? If you were to see your store for the first time, would you come in? If no, why? Feng Shui-wise, you want to create a strong and clear flow of energy to your front entrance. A strong flow of feng shui energy is created by a strong and clear presence, which includes a clean, crisp store name, well-lit and fresh window displays, as well as by using appropriate colors for the feng shui direction of your main door.

 

  • Come inside the store and notice where your attention goes. This well help you understand where the energy flows. Is your attention pulled to the right or to the left? Or maybe you are not drawn to come in at all, even though the store has many beautiful things? The important thing to understand is that you need to create pathways for the feng shui energy to flow, you need to direct the energy to create a pleasant experience and draw the customers in, then help them explore by themselves what you have to offer. Imagine Chi, or feng shui energy as water, and see where would the water flow, as well as see where would it get blocked.

 

  • Create a primary focal point, as well as several secondary points/areas for exploration. This has to be very clear from the moment the customer steps into the store. You want to avoid the overwhelmed feeling of “too much stuff” with no breathing room. On a feng shui energy level, this can create a feeling of a very loud, uninterrupted noise; nobody is attracted to that. Music is created by the silence in between the sound. I personally have come across this in many shops “too much stuff”.  It makes me feel crowed and usually I don’t stay long. Keep this point in your mind at all times when placing items and displays. Don’t overcrowd.

These tips alone will really make you take a look at your retail space and help you decide whether you have the proper Feng Shui. Be sure to read the rest of her tips here.

Small Business Matters

 

Trash to Treasure

You would have thought with the long holiday weekend, we might have taken some downtime for ourselves.  Turns out it didn’t work out that way.  But that’s ok.  Instead we found some treasures for the store.  A friend of ours was assisting a friend with a clean out of a home and we got to go pick through what was left.  Yes it may sound strange to most, but one person’s trash is another’s treasure.

This is just another way we find things that can be used in our store.  I was able to find this really cool shelving unit, that once was used in a police department to file their forms.  It will get cleaned up, painted and used in the new-age section to hold books and essential oils.  I’m so excited about turning this into a treasure and show piece for the store.

I’ve come across many items whether in yards sales, second hand shops or even the side of the road that I’ve refinished and used for the store some way.  It makes for interesting decor in the store and costs us little to nothing.  When you are a small business you need to be creative and find ways to decorate your store without spending a small fortune.

We even incorporate pieces of nature into our store.  Our window displays are old cut down tree stumps.  They work really well when displaying product and give the window a warm and welcoming feel.  Anything can be used as a display, you just need to think outside the box.

displays for business

So the next time you are out driving keep an eye out for yards sales or free items on the side of the road.  You might just find that perfect piece to add to your store. Another person’s trash may be your treasure.

Now I’m off to price and stock some really cool new items we just got in for our new-age section.  Be sure to head to our Facebook page to check out all our products.

Small Business Matters

 

 

Happy 4th of July Weekend

It’s here, the long 4th of July weekend so many of us look forward to. A time to get together with friends and family and enjoy cookouts and fireworks.  Unfortunately the weather isn’t looking great for many outdoor events in our area (northeast, ct) tomorrow.  So it may turn into a lazy day to just kick back and relax.

I thought instead of doing our normal blog today, I would share some cool things I came across on the internet when it comes to celebrating the 4th of July.

How about making this cool 4th of July cake for your cookout from Betty Crocker.  I bet all your guests would love this.

Here’s a cool way to spice up your ordinary ice cream cones for the 4th of July.

I also came across some really cool crafts you can do with the kiddo’s for the holiday as well.  These look like a lot of fun and pretty sure the kids would have a blast making them.

How about making these as centerpieces for your table.  I really liked these.  So simple too.

I hope you enjoyed these great ideas for your upcoming 4th of July celebrations. Feel free to share any cool food or decorations you did for the 4th of July.

Have a great and safe holiday weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping Your Business Strong During The Summer

keeping your business busy in the summerHappy early 4th of July to everyone.  I hope you all have a great long holiday weekend.  This is a great time we all look forward to spending time with friends and family.  Whether you are heading out for vacation or having a backyard celebration for the 4th of July this is some well deserved downtime.

For many businesses summer is their busiest time of year.  If you happen to be in a tourist area, your planning to be very busy during these summer months.  But for other businesses located in small non tourist towns, business may be a little slower.  I know in the almost five years we’ve been in business, we noticed as soon as summer hits business slows down.  School is closed, families are off taking vacations and our town seems to turn into a ghost town.  This year I personally think will be different for us.  Why? Because we’ve done a few things in our town recently to really grab attention from outside of our area.  The efforts we have put into recent events I personally feel will pay off for all of us.  Usually we start to see the slow down right after school lets out.  So far our June has been exceptionally busier than previous years.

Which leads me to how to increase your business for the summer months.  You need to think ahead if you know you are located in a town that slows down during the summer.  Plan your marketing for the summer.  Offer special sales or events for July or August to attract new customers and keep existing customers shopping.  Only do these special events during these months each year so customers are looking forward to it.  You need to be creative and stand out to draw customers to your store.  It can be a difficult task, but if you think outside the box you can continue to thrive during these summer months. Consider partnering with other local businesses to do a special summer offer.  There’s more power in numbers.  Regardless of what or how you do it, keep doing it.  Don’t give up if it doesn’t work right away. This is the only way we will know what works best for our business.

Wishing you all a Happy 4th of July and a successful summer.

Small Business Matters

Don’t Forget About Your Website

update your websiteIn this age of social media, many businesses are making use of advertising opportunities that are available.  This is great, as your businesses marketing plan must include a variety of methods.  But many of us may be forgetting to check on our websites.  When’s the last time you updated your website?  Did you build the website and now it just sits there as a static page?  Yes it happens and all too often.  Many of us starting our marketing of our businesses make sure we have a website, we are on all social media, as well as print media and blogging, but then forget to go back and maintain our websites.

When’s the last time you typed your business into Google?  You should do this often to see where you are falling.  Are you still on the first page of the search?  You should be if you’ve been keeping up with your website.  If not, then you need to spend some time updating your website to keep it on the first page and fresh.  When people go to your website they want to see what is current, not something from last year.

Updating your website can be as simple as having your blog hosted on your website.  Each time you write a blog it will update your website and keep it active. Other ways to update your website include updating photos, adding new products or just changing the layout.  Either way you’ll want to do this a few times a month. Have you changed or added something new to your business recently? You should add that onto your website.

Also don’t forget to include your website in all your advertising whether on social media or print media.  Reminding your customers where they can find you outside of just Facebook or Twitter.

These are just a few simple tips to keep your website current and fresh.  Go spend a couple hours this weekend and give your website a good look.  It might just be time for some change.

If you would like some help with updating and maintaining your website, we are here to assist you with that.  Feel free to send us an email at artisanscornergifts@gmail.com.  Or check us out online at Artisans Corner.

Have a great weekend!

Small Business Matters

 

 

Tips to Improve Your Small Business

your small business blogWe are always looking for ways to further improve our businesses.   Here are just a few tips to keep in mind that can help you further improve your business.

Keeping Score: Many small businesses don’t have an idea on their daily, weekly or monthly numbers.  This is vital to continued growth of your business.   For many small businesses they are unable to afford a POS system, that would help them with keeping track of their numbers.  So instead consider a ledger or even a spreadsheet, but track your numbers.

Set Business Goals:  Not so much a business plan, as goals that you would like to reach for your business.  Set goals that are attainable.  This will not only help improve your business but give you a sense of accomplishment.  Set month, weekly or even yearly goals.

Marketing:  Never forget the marketing.  It’s vital to have a variety of marketing methods, from online, print media, blogs, email marketing and more.  Don’t think because you’re a small business you can’t afford to market your business.  There are a variety of inexpensive and free ways to get your name out there.

Monitor The Trends:  Know the trends in your business.  Follow business publications that are geared to your industry. Knowing what’s going on is vital to the success of your business.  This allows you to see upcoming changes in the industry and stay fresh and up to date.

Know Your Limits:  This is a tough one for many small business owners, but we have to learn that we can’t do every job ourselves. Know what you are best at doing for your business and focus on that.  Let employees, or partners help you with other business tasks that you are not as comfortable with.

Take a Break:  We all need to have downtime.  It’s vital that we relax, unwind and recharge.  Working non stop isn’t good for you or your business. Take day trips to your favorite spots and relax.  Downtime will help re-ignite your passion for your business.

Hard work always pays off.  Just remember to reward yourself as well for all the hard work you do.

Small Business Matters

 

 

 

DP Week 9: Summer Solstice essay

Your Small Business Blog:

Happy Summer Solstice.

Originally posted on Room of Roots:

Sunset on the Solstice at Stonehenge. Credit: English Heritage

Sunset on the Solstice at Stonehenge. Credit: English Heritage

Today (21 June) marks the Summer Solstice in the northern hemisphere and the Winter Solstice in the southern. The word ‘Solstice’ comes from the Latin: ‘Sol’ (sun) and ‘Sistere’ (to stand still).

At the Solstice, the sun seems to stand still in the sky for the longest day of the year. This effect is due to the angle of the earth’s axis and its orbit of the sun.

In temperate Europe, the Summer Solstice marks the longest day with up to 15 hours of sunlight. After this point, days become shorter until we reach the shortest day at the Winter Solstice in December.

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