Trade shows used to be the primary way to introduce your product on the marketplace. These industry-specific fairs brought together lots of companies in one space, allowing them to showcase their products to customers while generating buzz and boosting sales. But today, getting your products out there and building hype doesn’t necessarily call for a spacious venue or elaborate tradeshow booth.

Hosting a more intimate retail event allows you to connect with potential customers, and they can easily take place virtually, too. You can even offer a hybrid event, a strategy that the clothing and home goods store Anthropologie found to be successful. Read on to discover retail event ideas that can make your event more engaging and help you increase sales along the way.

1. Offer freebies and prizes

Want to get potential customers hooked on your product? Your retail special events can include samples for customers to try and take home. You can also host a giveaway where you put every guest’s name into a drawing to win a popular product or a gift basket of samples. Little Bumpers Boutique generates more excitement around their events and encourages attendance with prizes and raffles that showcase their baby and toddler clothing.

Giveaways and samples don’t just give guests a reason to attend your retail event. They’re also an opportunity to try out your product, which might result in them coming back for more. Whole Foods hosts cheese tasting nights that give guests the opportunity to try before they buy – and get them into the store.

2. Encourage prompt shopping

Turn casual browsing into sales by offering discounts for your guests. Provide an exclusive coupon code or discount, such as 10% off of the total purchase, for event attendees. Want to lock down the sale? Only keep the coupon code or discount open for a short time. If potential customers know they only have 24 or 48 hours to use the discount, they won’t delay in placing an order. Plus, if they’re debating a purchase, knowing the price today is lower than the price tomorrow is a great incentive.

3. Get a related sponsor

Finding a related sponsor can increase the visibility of your event and, in turn, boost ticket sales. For example, if you’re hosting a sales event for your activewear brand, a local yoga studio would be a strong target sponsor. Your sponsor can promote your event through their business’s social media, which allows you to extend the event’s reach. You can win sponsors over by writing the perfect sponsorship email.

4. Host an event with multiple retailers

When it comes to retail promotion, the more products, the better. Bring together different retailers to showcase their products at your event. The appeal of a diverse product offering can encourage potential customers to attend. Art Party Central brings the fun and interaction of in-person craft fairs to a virtual environment. These events allow makers to connect with customers, showcase their new designs, and give insight into their craft – all while promoting and selling their products.

5. Host your event around a holiday

Gift-giving holidays tend to bring out shoppers, so consider hosting your event in conjunction with a holiday like Mother’s Day or Christmas. You can even promote your event as a way to find a unique gift for those hard-to-shop-for loved ones. TYT.Talent hosted a virtual spring event where attendees could shop for Easter basket fillers and fresh fashion just in time for the season.

6. Make your event social

Even though the purpose of luxury retail events is to promote sales, you want your guests to have a little fun, too. Focus on creating social opportunities at the event, like a live or streaming music performance to entertain guests. Or, host a cocktail hour to kick off your event and let guests mingle before they shop.

Anthropologie put on a Sit, Sip, & Shop Online Pop-Up that let guests enjoy music, raffles, games and prizes while they shopped from the comfort of their homes. Made in DC’s hand lettering happy hour allowed event-goers to learn a new skill while sipping on their favourite beverage in their own living rooms. Terrarium Therapy hosts in-person events at local restaurants and wineries, which gives participants the opportunity to eat, drink and socialise. These social events are memorable and entertaining, which can help build brand loyalty.

7. Highlight the makers’ stories

While the products might be the focus of your event, the makers deserve some time in the spotlight too. Design a retail event that gives the makers the opportunity to tell their stories. Event-goers can learn about the makers’ inspiration or how they got started in the business. This event-building strategy is especially effective for artisan retailers, who can offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how they make their product.

8. Tailor the event to your audience

If you have a target demographic, focus your event around them. They’re the most likely to purchase your product, so you’ll boost sales by selling to the right people. A boutique selling handmade baby clothes would want to target new and expecting parents, or perhaps grandparents looking for gifts around the holidays. This is why wedding expos are so popular. At Home Events hosts virtual wedding events that make it easier for engaged couples find wedding vendors, venues, and decor.

9. Host a live demonstration or fashion show

Depending on what you’re selling, a demonstration might be the most effective sales strategy. If you’re selling cosmetics, give a live makeup demonstration to showcase everything your product can do. Selling clothes or jewellery? Fashion events can include a catwalk show that showcases your collection and product offerings. San Francisco’s Fashion Community Week hosts virtual events featuring runway shows and shopping opportunities, helping to build buzz around the featured brands.

Once you’ve chosen a way to showcase your products, plan an event that guests love, and then get them through the door with creative event promotion. Eventbrite makes it easy for small businesses and makers to draw a larger audience to their events and build their brand.

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