Western & English Today


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

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48 Western & English Today level and, in turn, see them as a trusted authority (Instagram also offers live and video "stories"). He says you should use a video to solve a problem for your customers — such as three tips on how to pull together a date outfit or the most important things to look for when buying a pair of boots — because people tend to share such posts. Every Tuesday, Miller posts a live video of the store's Outfit of the Day, new arrivals, and styling suggestions, while Lorec Ranch Pawhuska associates post live videos of customer appreciation giveaways and the manufacturing process. TECH TOOLBOX While social media reigns supreme, additional tech can make tourists and new customers aware of your store (and remind locals). Retailers should ensure that their location and routes to their store are showing up correctly on Google Maps and other GPS apps, as well as online review websites like Yelp. Don't hesitate to contact a company if something is incorrect. And because many people research a store online first, it's essential to seek and respond to online reviews, which oen pop up in the top search results. Brown of SaveYour.Town recommends starting a free Google My Business listing, which allows you to manage your store's online information and reviews. And Lopez, in coordination with her local Better Business Bureau, recently started using e Review Solution app, allowing her to easily text review requests to customers. Because Lorec Ranch Pawhuska is adjacent to Ree Drummond's Pioneer Woman Mercan- tile, which welcomes thousands of visitors a day, Lopez says they "only have a split second to capture that audience," so her associates gather contact information and follow up with emails about their biggest sales. She also emails and texts clients photos of their custom furniture be- ing made so that "they get to watch the process through their phone." Lopez says she once tried an app that would text people who were in a geographic boundary near her shop—akin to a digital beacon or "geofencing"—but eventually stopped because it was invasive and nobody wanted to download the app. Miller, meanwhile, emails a sneak preview of and coupon for her Outfit of the Day to people who subscribe on her website, and her employees invite all in- store customers to sign up for a texting program to receive promotions and birthday coupons. PURCHASING POWER Here are a few tips to help enhance your customers' in-store purchasing experience through the convenience of modern technology. • Consider a modern point-of-sale system — such as Shopify, Rain, or Square — that offers tablet or smartphone-based card checkout. • While some payment tools don't require a sales associate, have employees continue to oversee the process and engage with customers. • Use portable smartphone-based payment solutions during busy times and at events (Square says its "chip dipping" time is less than 2 seconds). Some of these products send instant digital receipts to customers and allow retailers to send them free marketing emails. • If you're in a remote area with spotty WiFi or cell reception, look for a credit card processor, such as Square, that functions even when you lack service. Both Lopez and Miller say they are careful to not overdo it with these types of communi- cation, and Phibbs cautions against thinking that discounts are the only tool and stresses that it's all about the experience that custom- ers have inside your store. In addition to cultivating a good word- of-mouth reputation, delivering premium customer service with quality employees, and embracing effective tech, small-town retailers should also promote their location. Make sure your associates can provide inter- esting information about local attractions to help your town become seen as a desti- nation. Attract tourists by including social hashtags for the town and popular events. Schulke, for example, oen uses #roundtop- texas and will write captions with restau- rant suggestions or an invitation to direct message her to receive a list of her favorite rental houses. And to entice visitors to come back, she'll put gi cards and coupons in the rooms. "It's not just about us," she says. "It's about everybody. If we do well, everybody does well. We can all grow and thrive." "I think that creates a sense of, 'This is where I live, this is what my barn looks like, and now let me bring the furniture inside that they're selling and let me bring it home.'" KARI LOPEZ OWNER, LOREC RANCH PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY LOREC RANCH

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