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What the event sector can learn from the retail space

May 22, 2014 | James Rook

If we are a nation of shopkeepers, then there’s an army of shoppers out there, and – given recent economic predictions – they aren’t afraid to spend.

In a crowded marketplace, the challenge for the retail sector storeowner is to ensure it’s their store that encourages the consumer to spend more. This insight from Marketing Week shows some of the reasons people part with their cash.

So what can we learn from this 1,000 person survey* in terms of what we do on an exhibition stand?

1. Atmosphere counts

Ambience was selected by 41 per cent of respondents as being of paramount importance.

Creating a good ambience on stand is about providing areas for both public mingling and private conversation, creative tools to encourage engagement, and the buzz generated by something just that little bit new or different.

A lack of atmosphere in a store was cited as the biggest turnoff for prospective shoppers, and we know the same is true in the exhibition hall. We’ve all quickly walked past the empty stand with the single desperate-looking sales person. Make sure that exhibition presence isn’t yours!

2. Location, location, location

The research also highlighted that not everyone is prepared to go that extra mile to get the retail experience they crave. Location was cited as important by almost a third of respondents.

So when you’re given the exhibition map, study it carefully before you make your decision. I’d recommend having open-plan stands; corner stands are good as the more open they are then the more welcoming they become, allowing you to capture more visitors. It’s also worth looking for any areas that might attract a lot of exhibition traffic, like outside a seminar space, or on a main traffic aisle.

3. Smile please!

High street habits show that the friendliness of staff and the quality of customer service are key to how people choose where to shop.

So, when on stand, remember to smile and ensure that the stand staffers’ presence reflects your company culture. No huddling, mobile phones or eating or drinking. Remember your audience may be captive but they also have a lot of ground to cover, make sure you’re prepared and in the right position to start the friendly dialogue.

4. Be social and aspirational

The study also found that high street shopping is a popular social and aspirational activity: 59 per cent of respondents agreed shopping is a good opportunity to catch up with friends, while 57 per cent enjoyed making unplanned clothes purchases and 56 per cent liked to allow themselves to dream when shopping.

To capitalise on this, make the most of your brand on stand. Use compelling content. Make your exhibition stand an experience for your visitors, rather than just an information gathering exercise. Start a conversation. Let them play a game or take part in a survey or something interactive. Then they’ll remember you for the right reasons.

Read more exhibiting tips on Nimlok’s exhibition tips page.

*Design consultancy Dalziel and Pow surveyed 1,000 women, who were asked what was important to them when they shopped in store, how much they spent on impulse purchases and what they enjoyed most about shopping. All participants had shopped for clothing, electronics, health and beauty and/or small household items within the past three months.