Christian Retailing

Boost sales and grow goodwill Print Email
Written by Kirk David Blank   
Wednesday, 15 July 2015 03:08 PM America/New_York

Enjoy the benefits of price and community-based promotions


Christian retailers of the independent sort have one of the most challenging jobs in our industry. They have to juggle a few balls as they keep their business moving forward, stay in stock, manage people, maintain a physical location, serve customers and keep them happy and coming back.

How do you keep the front doors of your retail business swinging throughout the traditional and nontraditional buying seasons? Driving foot traffic to a brick-and-mortar store may seem something of a lost art, but it’s no less critical to the health of your business than it ever was.

Finding the right promotion for your store is key to foot traffic. Consider price promotions and community promotions.

Price promotions focus on sales, coupons and other price-oriented offers. Most of these can be held at any time of the year. Some revolve around a type of merchandise (Bible sale), while others emphasize a distribution method (bag stuffer).

Bag Stuffer: This is an inexpensive flyer with a special offer or message. It is placed in each customer’s bag at checkout. Keep in mind that any coupon should be good for the next visit. Tip: Consider promoting neighboring merchants on the bag stuffers and, in turn, have them promote your store to their customers in the same manner.

Bargain Barrel: Use a large container filled with assorted deeply discounted items and placed in a prominent spot that highlights store bargains. Putting an assortment in one location—in a barrel or box—will attract them to look through the items. This type of promotion encourages impulse buys and also provides a way for customers to get a great deal on items that you want to get rid of in your store. Tip: Consider using an inflatable toy swimming pool for summer sales or wrap a large box with Christmas wrap for the holiday selling season.

Bookstore Bucks: Like coupons, the customers use the Bookstore Bucks to save on purchases. A Bookstore Buck should have the purchasing power of a dollar in your store. Decide how much a customer must spend to earn a Bookstore Buck and if you’ll put a limit on the number of Bucks a customer can redeem. Tip: Be sure that there is something unique about your Bookstore Bucks so they cannot be easily counterfeited.

Cross-Promotion: This is a great promotion that introduces your store to other business’ customers. Your store carries their coupons, and their store carries your coupons. For example, Coupon A (your partner’s coupon handed out in your store) may be $5 off every $50 purchase at partner’s store. Coupon B (your coupon handed out at your partner’s store) may be $1 off every $10 purchase at your store. Tip: Split the cost of printing the coupons and coordinate the offers so they complement each other.

Spot-the-Dot Sale: This is a great traffic-builder any time of the year that features merchandise marked with colored dots indicating special discounts. For example, blue dot items could be 10 percent off, yellow dots 20 percent off, green dots 35 percent off and red dots 50 percent off. Make several charts to display throughout the store to remind customers which color stands for which discount. As the sale progresses, you might want to reduce prices further. If you do, just add a second dot. The extra dot shows the customer it was marked down a second time and gives an extra incentive to buy. Tip: These adhesive dots are available at an office supply store.

Along with price promotions, community promotions are helpful in building goodwill and name/brand recognition, which can translate into improved sales in the long term. These ideas may not boost sales immediately but contribute to ongoing support from your community.

Amateur Photo/Child Art Contest: These contests demonstrate your interest in community affairs and offer opportunities for public relations and press coverage. Tip: Contact your local newspapers, radio stations and television stations.

Community Car Wash: Volunteering your parking lot as the location for a fundraising car wash sponsored by a youth group, scout troop or other organization demonstrates your commitment to the community and attracts customers who wouldn’t be there otherwise. Tip: Position the car wash to be visible yet not jeopardize parking for your regular customers.

Children’s Story Hour: Providing a regular hour of entertainment for young children early in the store Saturday morning encourages parents with little ones to visit, showcases children’s products and keeps the kids occupied so the parents are free to shop in your store. Tip: Have some coffee for the parents and be sure to collect email addresses to keep parents informed of upcoming children’s events.

At the Munce Group, we work hard to provide opportunities and encouragement to our retail customers who bring the community into the store and take the store into the community. With the right plan, Christian retailers can make a difference and see an increase in sales and loyalty.

Kirk David Blank is president of Largo, Florida-based Munce Group, an association of 400 independent Christian retail stores, and publisher of More to Life (