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posted: 4/1/2013 8:09 AM

Geneva retail consultant suggests ways attract customers

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By Jim Kendall

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle's website, www.retailminded.com, is either a confusion of all things retail or the must-visit home of a multitude of creative ideas, articles, blogs, advice and resources for independent retailers.

Your call.

Whatever your choice, the site definitely reflects Leinbach Reyhle's belief that "Independent retailers need to be proactive. You want to keep foot traffic in the store," she says. "You have to have your calendar planned at least six months out."

Leinbach Reyhle is founder and editorial director of Retail Minded, a Geneva consulting firm that also boasts its own Retail Minded magazine, digital or print. If you're in retail, her site likely is one you should visit; truth is, the site is chock full of ideas.

So was the conversation we had. Highlights of Leinbach Reyhle's ideas for independent retailers follow:

"Stage one bigger event a month and two or three smaller ones," Leinbach Reyhle says. "The bigger event may only have 20 people, but (that's OK) if they're the right 20. The smaller events may be a sharing with other businesses. Use each other's mailing lists for joint promotion.

"Take your store to another store. Take your home décor to a florist, for example.

"Take your store to another community, maybe a pop-up opportunity in a different location where your inventory won't be stale.

"Invite your top 20 customers for a private shopping event -- Spring products, for example.

"Host a community event.

"Keep your merchandising current. What are the Gaps and Macys doing? You can't apply everything they do, but look at their products and inventories.

"Mobile marketing is a big trend, with lots of apps designed for smaller merchants.

"Customer engagement is too often overlooked. The store may be beautiful, but customer service -- what happens when a customer first walks into the store, the follow-up, a loyalty program -- can make the difference. You have to give people a reason to buy."

If you're an online retailer, or, perhaps more likely, if your bricks-and mortar store has a website, selling is "a different type of engagement," Leinbach Reyhle says.

"The website must be simple. Keep things clear and concise. Sell your product without words. Successful sites use the 'viewers who viewed this product also viewed' approach effectively.

"Make the checkout easy, (and) don't make people register to do business with you.

"Note your security features" so online shoppers are comfortable buying.

"You don't have to sell online, but you do need to be there. You need at least a static site so the Google search engines can find you."

Want more? The Illinois Small Business Development Center at Waubonsee Community College is hosting a Leinbach Reyhle retailer seminar on May 2 in Aurora.

• Jim Kendall welcomes comments at JKendall@121MarketingResources.com © 2013 121 Marketing Resources Inc.

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