Retailers have a huge opportunity in-store this year, and many are already getting creative by closing on Thanksgiving and even Black Friday. While that might seem counter-productive, the truth is that opening on Thanksgiving or at midnight on Black Friday last year added little revenue to the overall holiday numbers. While retailers experienced a bump on those days, the weekend revenue evened out as customers just shopped at different times but didn’t spend more.

To truly gain more foot traffic over the holidays, retailers have to get creative. It’s no secret that brands are constantly looking for unique ways to bring customers into the store. While new products, the latest fashion and technology are the traditional reasons to have shoppers engage in-store, some brands are thinking outside the box to interact with their customers. Experiences, like the ones PSFK refers to in its article “Brands Fulfilling Customer Needs with Out-Of-The-Box Incentives”, can be anything from a VIP cocktail party or runway show to exercise classes or poetry slams. These in-store events are helping to redefine the shopper experience and build brand loyalty.

Robert Graham, an American Eclectic lifestyle brand, hosts exclusive events for their VIP customers regularly at their locations across the country. Robert Graham already stands out as a retailer because each store has its own unique design and personality that fits within the community as well as their brand. No two stores are identical, but all their locations are creative and inviting, making them a perfect venue for entertaining. And each store engages shoppers by inviting them to fun events, such as whiskey tastings, cigar rolling or, my personal favorite, simply offering valet parking while they shop the latest line. For each event they send out an invitation; below is the one they sent to their customers near San Antonio inviting them to their new store.

Naomi Holland, Director of Marketing for Robert Graham shares, “Our all store take-over events are very successful as they allow one communication message to flow to the customer from social media to homepage to email blasts to in-store client Telling. For example, in October, Robert Graham launched breast cancer takeover events and November will be “movember” related takeover events. In December, all stores will host a takeover event on December 5th for holidays, in partnership with “Toys for Tots”. Each event takeover has a philanthropic angle and a consumer focused shopping experience which makes it a win-win for the consumer and Robert Graham.

Whether a cocktail party is right for your brand or a yoga class is more appropriate, dare to be different. Find new ways to engage new customers and long-time customers without the pressure to purchase.

What do you think of this strategy? Let us know!

Last year, holiday foot traffic decreased 8.3% according to the NRF. But there is no denying that in-store holiday shopping is still the clear revenue winner as over $500 billion in holiday revenue came from stores and $101.9 billion came from online and mobile devices in 2014.

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