As making purchases online through a variety of devices continues to be an uphill battle for small businesses, the independent gourmet housewares market has found a bright spot by creating events — both food-focused and not — to bring people to brick-and-mortar locations.
However, retailers have the option to tap vendors for store events as well. Vendor-driven events often come with a plethora of benefits, including the ability for cross-marketing help and merchandise discounts.
At a recent GOURMET INSIDER® roundtable, which took place at the summer 2018 Atlanta International Gift + Home Furnishings Market (see story on page 30), Mary Moore, CEO of Atlanta-based The Cook’s Warehouse, discussed the importance of important vendor-driven events.
“Vendor events are a great way to collaborate and to build a broader audience,” she said. “We do several events a year that are specifically-vendor related and we also do some cooking classes that are vendor-related. I think the more that we can do together, the better we are.”
According to Moore, who currently owns three The Cook’s Warehouse locations in the Atlanta area, here are some of the best practices retailers should zero in on when planning a vendor-driven event.
Talk About Marketing
Moore explained that many vendors are heavy into social media, which can help with advertising and marketing the event. This, she said, helps create more buzz then an individual store can and also helps broaden the customer reach. She recommends discussing these options with your vendor representative to allow for maximum reach.
“We look for a lot of that in events that we do,” Moore said.
Have A Plan
“I think it’s really important to have a plan in place when you’re working with your vendor on an event, because sometimes a lot of what is talked about doesn’t get executed,” said Moore.
She said that having a written plan that everyone — from vendor representative to staff members — can adhere to makes everything run more smoothly.
“I would plan an event just like I would plan a cooking class or anything else,” added Moore.
Make It Special
“You want to create different interests and opportunities for your consumer than you would have on a day-to-day basis,” Moore said.
If it’s a product-driven event, Moore said to have an in-store special surrounding the featured product or line. This will not only entice people to attend, but an event special or a discount on an offering during the event may also entice them to make a purchase.
Get Vender Participation
Moore explained that while owners, managers and staff members need to have product knowledge about goods, it is the representatives of the vendors themselves that can often bring increased expertise and enthusiasm to an in-store event.
“Vendors are great salespeople. You definitely want to have them in your store and have that other authority who is there representing [the vendor], as well as you and your staff,” she said.
Moore said that she also tries to work with vendors that she may not necessarily sell herself, but ones that may bring in a new clientele to the store and can help her gauge interest in new products or brands.
“Outside of the box vendors is another business that has a completely different base that we can tap into,“ she said.
If you are hosting an in-store event with a vendor representative, take full advantage of their presence to conduct trainings with staff.
“I would have a vendor rep come in early and do a staff training and make sure that everyone on the team is up to speed,” said Moore. “Just having your staff be able to utilize [the product], it becomes their go-to. All of that training, education and experience really generates sales.”
She also said to host as many events as possible while the vendor is available.
“You definitely want to leverage as many opportunities as you can. You can do events both during the day and at night because some people are available during the day and others will attend in the evening,” Moore explained.