By Bill R. Shelton, CEcD
“Becoming integrated in a community can make the difference between a store’s success and failure… it makes good sense for the brand (store) to try to become an intrinsic part of the community,” according to Carrie Rossenfeld, a columnist for GlobeSt.com – an online source for commercial real estate news.
Improving a Retailer’s Bottom Line
This is an opportunity for the public sector to make a positive contribution to a local retailer’s bottom line, improving retail retention rates. In addition to facilitating buy local campaigns, government can act directly to establish and support efforts to involve and assist retailers in becoming embedded in the social fabric of the community, leading to these benefits:
- Reduced retail leakage
- Increased sales tax revenues
- Fewer retailers closing stores, as firms that become active in the community are not as apt to relocate but find reasons to stay
Here are four ways you can improve retail retention by helping retailers build lasting relationships in your community:
1. Build Relationships Within the Community
Encourage retailers to engage their customers in discussions about what is important to the customer’s needs and where the involvement of the retailer could be beneficial. For example, if schools are struggling, can the retailer make a positive impact by adopting a school or engaging in specific fund raising activities?
2. Create a Custom Volunteer System
In cooperation with other local government agencies, educational institutions and the non-profit sector, create and maintain a list of opportunities for volunteers to serve on committees and boards. Provide these lists to retailers and encourage the participation of their employees as volunteers and board members.
3. Catalog Opportunities for Sponsorships or Hosting Events
Numerous organizations are continually seeking hosts, sponsors and participants in community events. Guiding retailers to be active participants in these events with sponsorships, promotions, giveaways or contests is just one more step to assist retailers in becoming an active part of the community.
4. Let the Community Know Which Retailers Are Giving Back
Recognize those retailers who are making contributions to the community through releases to the media and announcements at special events. In a study by Cone Communications and Echo Research, 82 percent of customers consider corporate social responsibility when deciding which products or services to buy and where to shop.
The needed time and resources to accomplish these programs holds the promise of citizens who are more satisfied with local businesses and shopping opportunities and who are willing to buy locally. When citizens are willing to buy locally, it positively affects retailers’ bottom lines and improves retail retention rates.