When you’re a business owner, the goal is to get the products that you offer in front of as many eyes as possible, increase customer satisfaction, generate enough revenue and profit margin while continuing to provide consumers with products and services year after year. This sounds simple enough right? Not exactly….
As culture and social structures of communities continue to change this has become more and more challenging for local business owners as the effects of urban sprawl, strip malls and online shopping have played a huge role in everyone’s business, especially those in down town cores. This development has lead to community minded and ‘businesses first’ organizations such as “Business Improvement Areas (BIAs)” to help build a better shopping experience that includes more than just the purchase and bridges the gap between those searching for information online but still wanting the in-store experience of the fit and feel of a certain product.
An example of a pioneer making improvements by leaps and bounds are BIAs who have a mandate to drive awareness, engagement, foot traffic and revenue to down town businesses. BIAs help bring the business community together to share in problems and collaborate on solutions with one goal in mind; making downtown the place to shop, eat, attend events and most importantly, own a business and create a unified community.
HOW DO BIAS DO THIS?
From personal experience with BIAs, an example I would like to use is an extremely creative organization our team has had the privilege and opportunity to work with first hand, the Downtown Vernon Association. The DVA works with over 550 local businesses including 52 restaurants and 220 retail locations. This is a team comprised of out of the box thinkers that have developed some very exciting initiatives, such as:
CIVIC SOUNDS & JAMMIN’ IN JUSTICE
Free concerts available for everyone to come see! Consumers have the opportunity to listen to free live music by a variety of talented artists, a fresh air experience and businesses get an injection of energy and foot traffic in the downtown core. Now, we are not talking about hosting one of these, try 16 over the summer months this year!
CREATING BIG CITY MARKETS IN A SMALLER CITY CLIMATE:
I had the opportunity to judge a cooking competition at the Avenue Market this past summer. I was amazed at the local vendors and retailers that had collaborated and made such a fun event for consumers! No doubt fruitful evening for the business community.
DOWNTOWN VERNON LIGHT UP
Driving locals downtown to visit Santa, decorate cookies, listen to holiday carols, view Christmas displays, take part in a Hot Chocolate Challenge and of course do some holiday shopping in between all the activities and entertainment. The Downtown Light Up is Vernon’s largest Christmas celebration which attracts the entire community to come together in celebration. Downtown Vernon businesses value the increased exposure, foot traffic and excitement this event brings to the core.
A New promotion in 2015, where every three Saturday’s throughout the year are promoted as Shop Local Days. Over 30 businesses actively participated with Shop Local Day deals & discounts, co-operative advertising in various local media outlets and contests/giveaways. This Drives awareness about supporting small and locally owned businesses through the campaign focused heavily on social media.
EMERGING TECHNOLOGICAL SOLUTIONS
Businesses now have to consider offering consumers even more of a smooth and enjoyable experience by adding multiple channels and finding the best way to combine e-commerce (online) to driving in-store shopping to create an even more connected retail and shopping experience. Businesses need to help consumers reduce the scope of their search and simplify the buying, shopping experience, and as a result,make retail stores more naturally attractive for them.
As consumers are accustomed to the empowerment of online shopping they expect their in store experiences to be the same à or better than online! To do this the DVA recognized an opportunity with GetintheLoop to help bring the ease and speed of online searches while also providing a more rounded, personal and enhanced shopping experience. The DVA is using GetintheLoop to help connect locals with any business information they may want (deals / offers) directly to their phones via the GetintheLoop app, e-mails and website. Locals can conveniently search local deals and offers in the downtown core for their retail purchases while also complementing their shopping experiences by visiting a downtown Vernon restaurant, pub or coffee shop that has a deal on the app too. So while you are planning your trip to buy a jacket, shoes or pair of jeans you can also go out for a nice cocktail or bite to eat and also enjoy a deal while your at it….
Through GetintheLoop, the DVA, has created a direct channel for local retailers to send their promotions, specials and offers directly to the phones of GetintheLoop members (locals who have signed up to receive the offers) and in turn locals conveniently get relevant information about local deals, savings and new experiences in their downtown core.
As culture, sprawl and communities continue to develop and adapt it’s exciting to see grass roots initiatives like the Downtown Vernon Association’s being put into play to help rebuild down town cores and help local businesses succeed!
For more information visit http://downtownvernon.com to stay in the Loop!
Matt Crowell, CEO, GetintheLoop