Getting to the stage of opening your first retail premises is a milestone moment for any small business owner. You’ve put in the hours to launch your brand, perhaps built a successful e-commerce business first or put together a funding pitch designed to make this moment happen. No matter how successful you have been in the digital space, making the transition to branding a physical environment is a big step.
Research indicates that the power of a brand is more important than ever in developing a customer relationship. Even with a strong online presence, opening a physical retail space allows customers to experience what you have to offer very differently. This type of experiential selling has become part of the development of successful businesses – witness companies such as Glossier, which started off entirely digital before opening a handful of flagship store locations. When you’re moving from one environment to the other, it’s very easy to make a few marketing mistakes. You need to translate your presence online into something which works really well when it’s more tangible. So, how do you translate your brand into a retail environment?
Consistency Above All
Think of the titans of retail branding – blue-chip mega-corps such as Starbucks, Apple or McDonalds. What is the one thing they all have in common? It’s consistency. Walk into their store and you know immediately exactly where you are and what to expect. So when it comes to bringing a smaller brand identity to a physical space, you also need to capture the brand values you’ve developed with consistency. It’s worth working with a marketing agency at this point to help to create and apply some brand guidelines and think through the story that you want your space to tell. All the customer touchpoints that you create, online and offline, must feel like they flow together – that means using the same logo, font, tone of voice and feel of marketing materials.
Dress Your Space
What you’re offering customers when they come into your store is more than just a transaction – it’s an experience. This may be their first interaction with your brand, or it might be a continuation of an online relationship. Either way, using the signage and dressing in the store to create that positive moment is important. Working with a specialist retail branding producer such as Eye Designs Group can bring your vision to life in a way that works on a practical level. You have an opportunity to make a deep impression when you move into a physical retail space, so pick up on details like display, set dressing, signage, spacing, and lighting to create the atmosphere you need – and remember, you will need a plan to seasonally refresh the space as well. Look to retailers you admire with a similar brand identity to create something that works.
Choose Your Associates Carefully
Your sales associates within the store are the living embodiment of your brand and form a major part of the customer’s experience and perception, so making the right hiring decisions here is crucial. Make sure your new recruits share the same vision and values as your business and are enthusiastic and well trained on the product – a comprehensive onboarding process is an absolute must. They must add to the experience your shoppers have with helpful knowledge and understanding, as well as representing the brand ethos. A great sales associate can do so much to make a casual customer into an advocate for what you do.