You should work with your fellow retailers to get people to ‘BIE’
(or why smaller shopping centres, high street type shopping areas and suburban precincts need to take a leaf out of the big centre playbooks)
There are lots of downsides with bricks and mortar retailers right now for all the obvious reasons (cough! the internet, the virus, the economy), but there are a couple of surprising upsides due to COVID: suburban shopping precincts are benefiting considerably from the WFH (Work From Home) trend which shows no sign of snapping back to ‘normal’ anytime soon – check out this article last November on smartcompany.
Cafés are doing well and all sorts of other shops, where customers who would ordinarily be shopping in the CBD are now doing it locally. It’s the CBD cafés that now need help. That’s not to say that shopping precinct-based shops can relax… the internet is still out there, and people know how to use it even better now than before.
Bateson Consulting has worked in the retail precinct activation space for several years now (see some case studies here), and we generally suggest shops based in retail precincts work together Three Musketeers style – ‘All for one and one for all!’ – to give local residents a reason to come to the precinct as a whole, as opposed to simply drawing people into their own shop. If you can increase precinct foot traffic, everyone should benefit.
The ‘BIE’ Approach
A great way to do this is to set up communications channels to locals – websites, social media channels, email lists and print – for the precinct as a whole. In terms of what approach to take and what content to put on these sites and channels, I recommend the B-I-E approach (of course pronounced ‘buy’)…
B – Bribe (giveaways, quizzes, draws, competitions etc)
I – Inform (eg let people know about new shops, closures/moves of others, give some background on what retailers do and some of the specialist items they stock)
E – Entertain (this can be quite a lot of fun if done right + does require a certain amount of stepping outside the normal sales patter; events are also an important part of this category)
A good way to do all of this is… imagine you’re running your own little tourism office for your precinct. What would you do then?