5 Tips to Keep Cupid on Target

Valentine’s Day can be the ideal occasion for party and paper retailers to see a surge in sales. Although there are a lot of industries trying to win the hearts of potential customers, following these five tips could put all eyes on you this Valentine’s Day. So, when Cupid takes flight, make sure your sales are soaring just as high.

1. Set the mood with a Valentine’s Day promotion or contest. Setting the mood for sales and reminding potential customers about the big day is important because it lends a connection between the holiday and your store.

Having an in-store contest or promotion encourages extra shopping incentive. For example, put together a contest to raffle off an exemplary balloon bouquet you’ve shared on social media platforms — customers have to come into your store to sign up, and that’s another opportunity for sales. But, like our friend Debbie Easley of Easley’s Fun Shop suggested doing, put the sign-up area in the back or middle of the store so customers have the chance to browse more products.

Hosting promotions or contests also gives you the chance to illustrate your product and service range — even if a customer has a different purchasing plan in mind, you’ll be remembered for future occasions.

2. Inspire with displays. First impressions happen faster than you may think. A team of researchers at Syracuse University found that “falling in love only takes about a fifth of a second,” Donna Adamo reported in a Syracuse University news release. Your storefront displays have milliseconds to attract passersby. Luckily, Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to boost the No. 1 color in retail sales — red. Red is a captivating color that makes people — you guessed it — stop. But, disclaimer: red’s intensity can also inspire disinterest if used gratuitously.      

Try recreating a romantic setting in your window display — you’ll be able to display more products and it could encourage ideas and opportunities for add-on sales. If your window display space is limited, check your city’s regulations and set up shop outside your door. Customers will be more apt to enter stores when they are engaged from the exterior.

3. Be add-on minded while buying for the occasion. Valentine’s Day is a great day for add-ons because it’s the little things that count — right? Customers, no matter the occasion, are seeking products that are unique and price-effective. Personalizing their gift or purchase by suggesting a little something extra makes it extra special. For example, suggesting heart-shaped weights for balloon bouquets is a small suggestion, but an example of how sales can add up quickly.

Buying for the occasion is smart — if you don’t carry items like candy, kids’ exchange cards or cards for adults, think about trying it for Valentine’s Day.  After all, the National Retail Federation reported candy and cards as two of the top-selling Valentine’s Day gifts in 2014. Purchase in small quantities for a test run — you never know what products could be successful in your store until you stock them.

4. Embrace the evolution. We’re in the midst of a market transformation when it comes to Valentine’s Day. The occasion is no longer geared toward romantically involved men and women— it’s become a day to celebrate love between friends, family members and even pets. U.S. News & World Report reported that more than 50 percent of consumers planned to spend on family members, and almost one-fifth on pets; given U.S. News’ projected $18.9 billion in last year’s sales, that’s more than $700 million on Fluffy.

This all adds up to more opportunities for sales. Get to know your customer base, which is advised for store sales on any occasion, and who they’re celebrating the day with. That way, customers can get even more of a personal shopping experience when you tell them you have something coming in-store for Valentine’s Day that they might be interested in.

With the passing of same-sex marriage laws, products will diversify as well, and this is important to keep in mind for your customers and product line.

5. Share the love with potential patrons. There are tons of ways to connect with your community and promote your store during Valentine’s Day. Having an in-store promotion is great because it gives you the opportunity to go door-to-door with your brick-and-mortar peers and promote your business. Have a coupon or discount opportunity for local retailers? Even better. Let them know you support independent businesses by offering exclusive deals, and you can expect the business to be returned in kind.

— By Leigh Jajuga, Special to Party & Paper Retailer

Originally posted Tuesday, Sep. 15, 2015