If a new store opening is on the horizon for your shopping centre, it’s never too early to start planning how you will promote and support it. Store openings are exciting and strategic opportunities to strengthen your centre’s positioning, retail mix, and to appeal to primary and/or secondary targets. Here’s a checklist of considerations to help you get ready for the big day and to ensure that you meet and surpass your goals.
1. Start early. This means as early as six months or more to give you enough time to plan and implement a great grand opening program.
2. Establish a good relationship with the new retailer as soon as possible. Take the time to understand their expectations for the grand opening, and work together to fulfill those needs. Some retailers have their own “grand opening” programs and way of doing things, other retailers need more help. You may want to discuss the idea of your centre creating a special welcome package for employees of the new retailer and/or even having a special private event to welcome management and staff. A gift card for them to enjoy other retailers and services at your centre is always a hit!
3. Pick a date. Many retailers like to have a quiet launch before the grand opening to work out any kinks in their systems. Again, leasing and the retailer will have input here. Be sure to pick a grand opening date that doesn’t compete with other events in the community or at other competing malls.
4. Develop a strategy. Be sure to identify your goals for the opening, target, strategies and tactics to help you meet those goals, and of course, a budget.
5. Creating buzz. It’s likely you will want to create buzz and excitement leading up to the opening of the new store. There are a number of cost-effective channels at your disposal to help with this including social media, your e-newsletter, website, blog, and in-mall merchandising including kiosks, posters, decals, tent cards and one of our favourites, hoarding. There are many creative ideas when it comes to hoarding. For instance, at first, it could include a teaser campaign to generate buzz and get people talking; it could include interactivity by sharing clues about what’s coming and asking people to submit their ideas to guest services for a chance to win fabulous prizes; and as the opening date draws nearer it could reveal the brand name and opening details. You may want to use the hoarding as a place to establish a countdown if the store is highly anticipated! You can read more about hoarding at one of our previous blog posts.
6. Retailer communications. Be sure to include retailer communications in your plan; you will want to let your other retailers know who is coming, when, where the new store will be located, how the new store will be promoted, and why having the retailer will benefit the centre.
7. Public relations. Let the media know about the new retailer and why the retailer is an exciting addition to your centre and the community. Be sure to have press materials (write up, pictures, logo, and store facts) prepared as part of your outreach to make it easy for the media to provide coverage.
8. Grand opening day. Develop a plan for the day that will drive traffic like crazy. This may involve working with the new retailer to create special incentives. For instance, perhaps the first 200 people to visit the new store receive a special gift. Perhaps all those that visit the centre on grand opening day can enter to win a fabulous gift card to the new retailer. Maybe all those that visit the new retailer receive a special bounce back offer to the retailer or complementary retailers valid at a later date. Depending on your goals, budget and the nature of the retailer, you may want to have music, food, cake and VIP guests from the community as you cut the red ribbon to open the new store in style.
9. Provide opening support. Once the grand opening takes place, don’t abandon ship. Continue to promote the new retailer through the noted channels and include it in key campaigns and communications in the future. Even retailers in high demand benefit from repeatedly communicating the store name in primary and secondary markets.
10. Learn and improve. Be sure to document what worked and didn’t work, and if you met or surpassed your goals. This information will help guide the way you approach your next store opening.
Follow this checklist and you will be on your way to a successful new store opening and helping to grow sales per square foot!