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Pushing independents boosts footfall and sales

Sarah Decent is the owner of footwear retailer Modish in Cambridge and Saffron Walden.

Once more Independent Retailer Month has proved to be a useful tool for promoting my two women’s shoe shops in the east of England.

This time round has been a little different, at least in Cambridge, where my main shop is. The emphasis is much more on the whole month of July, rather than focusing on one-off events for Independents’ Day. This makes much more commercial sense for us because many independent retailers here were also promoting the Tour de France, which came to Cambridge on July 7.

My promotion this year was to give visitors to my shop the chance to enter a prize draw if they provided me with their email address. To try to promote my shop further, we offered a second entry into the draw if the customer posted pictures of their new shoes on our Facebook page.

I’m working hard to improve my customer database and focus on customer relationship management, so this offer was perfect. Sometimes I can find it a bit awkward to ask for people’s emails and this initiative has really helped.

One thing I’ve noticed is that my fellow indies have become much more creative in the offers they’ve come up with to tempt people into their stores. From lucky dips through to “invent a new drink and the winning entry will be named after you”, a lot of thought has gone into it this year, which I’m sure is paying off in terms of increased footfall and sales.
I also have to say Cambridge Business Improvement District has really got behind Independent Retailer Month this year, which has been very helpful. It produced a glossy brochure dedicated to the event, including a guide to where the best independent shops in the city can be found.

The BID team also launched a discovery card for the month, which offers visitors to the city the chance to win £150 if they go to six participating shops and get their card stamped in each - and all of this at no charge to the participants.

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