Western & English Today

SOURCE 19

W&E Today provides retailers and manufacturers with education and ideas that provoke innovation in the Western and English markets.

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The Source 2019 47 she is doing exactly what Bob Phibbs, CEO of the Retail Doctor consulting firm, recommends that small-town retailers do to increase their foot traffic. According to Phibbs, you should start by "creating an exceptional experience in your four walls that people will rave about" and then learn how to leverage this. "Online is cold and impersonal, and it's all about price," Phibbs explains. "And a brick-and-mortar store provides something that online can't by de- sign—and that's a feeling that your shoppers matter." ankfully, every retailer, no matter the size or location, has access to a number of technol- ogy tools that, when embraced, can help them reach new audiences and convince potential customers that their stores are well worth stopping by. SAVVY SOCIAL A recent survey found that most customers start any shopping journey online, even though it may end in a store, and Entrepreneur magazine likewise reports that more than 70 per- cent of millennials do online research before checking out a shop in person. is is why social should be seen as "an in- troducer," a way to increase public awareness of your store. According to Deb Brown, a small-town business consultant with SaveYour.Town, it is best to first determine who your ideal customers are and then reach them through their pre- ferred channels "before they come to town." Adults over the age of 50 mostly use and share photos via Facebook, for ex- ample, while younger adults flock to Instagram and Snap- chat and are drawn to video content. Don't underestimate the power of the hashtag, which con- nects people to your posts even if they aren't yet familiar with your store. All of the retailers interviewed for this article use a number of signature and product specific hashtags, such as #westernfashion, #kansasboutique, or #originalart. Schulke says that social media absolutely brings people into Curate. She manages a Facebook page as well as two Instagram accounts: one for Stash because it does corporate branding and wholesale and another for the shop, which sells Stash and other brands and holds local events. Schulke, a professional photographer, once thought about outsourc- ing her social but decided it wouldn't feel authentic. Curate's Instagram feed is a unique collection of beautifully craed product shoots, behind-the-scenes shots of makers produc- ing purses and bags in a 100-year-old former mattress fac- tory, and even a video of a cocktail kit being used in-shop to make a delicious drink. Captions inform readers about the store's recent shipments, artist pop-ups, and extended hours. Interestingly, Schulke posts few images of the store itself. "e idea," she explains, "is that you really need to come in and experience it." And when they do come in, she asks shoppers to tag the store when posting on their own social accounts, and she then shares their photos and videos on the store's feed. Julie Miller, owner of High Call Outfitters, is also employing several kinds of tech at her brick-and-mortar in Great Bend, Kansas. "You're talking to a girl who just pushes buttons until it works," Miller says. "[Customers] see the great products that we offer on social media, and that's been an avenue to drive people to our store." She dabbles in Pinterest but prioritizes High Call's Instagram and Facebook pages, which are a mix of outfits carefully arranged on an old barn door backdrop, sizing recommendations and availability updates, shots of the store's interior displays, and close-ups of products. She says she aims to communicate quality, which draws people in because they want to hold a product before purchasing. is strategy is echoed by Kari Lopez, owner of Lorec Ranch in Pawhuska and Okla- homa City, Oklahoma. Lorec's social pages feature detailed shots, like fringe on a purse or a carpenter's hands at work, as well as en- vironmental shots that she hopes customers will relate with. "I think that creates a sense of, 'is is where I live, this is what my barn looks like, and now let me bring the furni- ture inside that they're selling and let me bring it home.'" And because Lorec Ranch offers customization at its brick and mortars, it posts photos of furniture with captions like "come in & customize how you'd like." Phibbs highly recommends Facebook Live because it allows potential customers to get to know a shop owner or associate on a personal "[Customers] see the great products that we offer on social media, and that's been an avenue to drive people to our store." JULIE MILLER OWNER, HIGH CALL OUTFIT TERS PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY HIGH CALL OUTFITTERS

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